Otay Mesa workers, detainees reveal shortcomings in management of COVID-19 at San Diego ICE detention center

California
A Protester stands outside the Otay Mesa Detention Center during a "Vigil for Carlos" rally on May 9, 2020. The vigil was held to commemorate Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia, the first immigrant who died of COVID-19 related symptoms while being held at the detention Center. (SANDY HUFFAKER / AFP via Getty Images)

A Protester stands outside the Otay Mesa Detention Center during a “Vigil for Carlos” rally on May 9, 2020. The vigil was held to commemorate Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia, the first immigrant who died of COVID-19 related symptoms while being held at the detention Center. (SANDY HUFFAKER / AFP via Getty Images)

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Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego was the site of the first big outbreak at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 221 detention centers.

The origins of the outbreak are uncertain, but in interviews with The Associated Press, workers and detainees reveal shortcomings in how the private company that manages the center handled the disease: There was an early absence of facial coverings, and a lack of cleaning supplies.

Symptomatic detainees were mixed with others.

Some workers at the center quit; the Mexican consul general, responding to complaints from detainees, raised concerns about how the facility handled the outbreak.

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