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Judge orders Buffalo Federal Detention Center to address COVID-19 outbreak

Buffalo Federal Detention Center

A judge is requiring the Buffalo Federal Detention Center to come up with a plan to vaccinate detainees from coronavirus.

The Batavia immigration facility has been beset by the disease. More than 40 detainees were being held in isolation or under monitoring as of Friday after testing positive, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The facility has about 260 detainees.

The Buffalo News reports that U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Vilardo is requiring the facility to come up with a plan to give vaccinations to detainees who would otherwise be eligible under state guidelines, such as people over 65 or with underlying health conditions.

Justice for Migrant Families WNY has been a watchdog for what it calls the "public health crisis" at the Detention Center. Executive Director Jennifer Connor said the facility has been using solitary confinement as "standard medical practice" for quarantine since march 2020 and two detainees are on a hunger strike to call attention to the conditions.

"Mitigation is impossible in a detention center and staff are not required to be tested. The detention center does not have adequate medical staff or facilities to protect people from COVID-19; even before the pandemic, inadequate medical care was a frequent complaint," she said.

Connor has been advocating detainees be released "into the care of the community...in the interest of public health."

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