Last month, AZ Mirror’s Laura Gómez reported CoreCivic’s Eloy Detention Center had seen such a massive surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases among detainees that it accounted for nearly half of new positive results among facilities nationally. “On June 11, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reported 22 positive cases of COVID-19 at the Eloy Detention Center in Pinal County. Four days later, that number jumped 460% to 123 confirmed cases, ICE reported Monday.”
Among them has been Marisol Mendoza, who earlier this year pleaded for release amid the pandemic due to her medical condition. Instead, a federal judge ordered ICE to improve conditions. She got sick anyway.
NBC News reports the rise in sick workers at Eloy is now further endangering the well-being of detainees there: One told attorneys with advocacy group Florence Project that she didn’t get food or water for a period of over 24 hours because of lack of staff, while another said they’d been unable to contact their attorneys. “A client yesterday (Tuesday, June 16) said that due to lack of guards in Eloy they are being kept locked in the rooms (cells) all day, and it is impacting whether they can be brought to visitation to call their attorneys,” Florence Project said according to the report.
Eloy workers confirmed the staffing shortages to NBC News as recently as last month, saying that “(s)ometimes we don’t have enough staff to let out a pod … They stay on lockdown because we don’t have enough staff to open that pod.”
CoreCivic has denied claims that detainees aren’t given enough hygienic products and are unable to sufficiently social distance in detention, claiming “COVID-19 has created extraordinary challenges for every corrections and detention system in America—public and private,” the report continued. Yes it has, yet the private prison profiteer is still working with ICE and making lots of dough detaining people who could instead be sheltering in their homes or with family.
“Most of our staff is in a war zone,” one Eloy worker told NBC News. “We are exposed on a daily basis … They were not doing the best contract tracing in the facility, and that’s why I think the exposure has spread between staff, detainees and family members of staff.” This is a man-made crisis, no matter how officials try to spin it, and its endangering everyone inside these facilities.