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Supervisors Vote For Formal Request To Feds On COVID Testing For Migrants

Migrants hoping to claim asylum in the United States marched from there camp ...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: Migrants hoping to claim asylum in the United States marched from there camp at the El Chaparral border crossing to the San Ysidro port of entry and kneeled in prayer asking the Biden administration to create a process for them to make their request.

County supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a request that the federal government ensure that any person released from immigration custody is tested for COVID-19, followed by treatment if needed.

Meeting virtually, the Board of Supervisors took action after receiving an update on county efforts to combat the pandemic. Supervisor Jim Desmond suggested the county send a formal letter to its federal partners, including the Biden administration and immigration agencies.

Because some migrants may enter the United States through an unofficial process, Desmond said he was concerned that federal agencies may not be testing them for the coronavirus.

"We've worked very hard to get into orange tier," Desmond said, referring to the state classification method for counties, based on the average daily number of new COVID-19 cases and the percentage of positive cases out of the total number of tests administered.

Previously, the county had been in the most restrictive purple tier, but its overall numbers have dropped as more residents get vaccinated against COVID-19.

"We need less than two people per 100,000 testing positive," Desmond said, adding that if migrants come in without proper testing, that puts the county's population at risk.

Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher said he was happy to support Desmond's proposal.

"Obviously, we want (the federal government) to do their job," Fletcher added. "If there are gaps, then the county has to step in."

County health officials on Monday reported 172 new COVID-19 cases, increasing the cumulative total to 276,692 since the pandemic began. No new deaths were reported Monday, leaving the region's death toll at 3,712.

A total of 3,038,735 doses have now arrived in the county, with 2,830,008 of those administered. The county received 292,950 vaccines last week, 18,000 fewer than the week prior.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, told supervisors Tuesday that 83% of county residents 65 or older have gotten as least one dose of the vaccine.

"As cases decline and more people are vaccinated, we are consistently encouraged," Wooten said.

Wooten asked residents to continue doing their part to further drop case numbers by wearing masks, avoiding big groups, and getting tested and vaccinated.

Supervisors also unanimously approved extending the deferral period for those who rent county-owned commercial or residential properties, but currently can't afford to pay. The repayment period will begin Jan. 1, 2022.

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.


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