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Mesa Verde On Hunger Strike Again Amid Positive COVID-19 Cases

Mese Verde ICE Processing Facility.



People detained at a Bakersfield ICE Processing Facility began a hunger strike last Friday, after learning a nurse who worked there tested positive for COVID-19. Detainees are demanding ICE release them or provide a healthier environment.


Roughly 70 people across all four dorms at the Mesa Verde Detention Center are hunger striking, said Susan Beaty, a fellow with Centro Legal in Oakland. She says she’s worried not enough people are being tested for COVID-19.


“Officials tested a handful of people who had come into contact with her in the days following her positive test but only a handful,” said Beaty. “So the vast, vast, vast majority of people in the facility including the people who were treated by the nurse in her last week of work have not been tested for COVID.” 


As of July 6th, one person detained has tested positive. Meanwhile, the detainees want to know how they can fight the virus when they aren’t getting the nourishment they need, Beaty said. One complaint people have is the food served in the facility is often expired or moldy, Beaty said. That’s why they are demanding ICE release them. 


“Until then you have to provide for daily, very, very basic human needs and that includes nutritious and unspoiled food,” said Beaty.  

The people at Mesa Verde are also striking in solidarity with those incarcerated at San Quentin where there’s been a large COVID-19 outbreak.  ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Madi Bolanos covered immigration and underserved communities for KVPR from 2020-2022. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border.
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