Ga. Immigration Center Confirms First Case Of COVID-19 As Emplyee Tests Positive

A detention officer walks through the halls at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. A guard at the facility tested positive for the virus on March 30.

David Goldman / Associated Press

The Stewart Detention Center in Southwest Georgia has confirmed its first case of COVID-19. An employee at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility tested positive for the virus on March 30.

The center is one of the country’s largest, holding about 2,000 detainees. It is run by CoreCivic, a government contractor.

Last week, immigration rights advocates called on the center to release its detainees to prevent the spread of the virus. They said detainees typically live in close quarters and that social distancing within was impossible.

In a statement, CoreCivic said the employee is in isolation at home, and it has directed nine employees who have come into contact with the guard to self-quarantine.

As of publication, ICE has not recognized the case on its website describing its response to the coronavirus. It states that nationwide four detainees who have been in ICE custody and five personnel have tested positive for the virus.

None of the detainee cases of the virus confirmed by ICE are at the Stewart Detention Center.

The immigration center is just one hour from Albany, Georgia, which has one of the most concentrated outbreaks of the coronavirus in the world.

CORRECTION: Stewart County officials identified the confirmed case of COVID-19 as a night-shift officer at Stewart Detention Center but CoreCivic has not confirmed the employee’s role. The story has been updated.