Three unaccompanied minor children in U.S. custody in New York have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Thursday.
The children, whose ages and nationalities weren’t released, are in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The office is responsible for housing migrant minors.
The agency said it is doing an evaluation of the children and will not release them from New York care provider facilities.
The resettlement office’s medical team “is working with the programs in New York and local health department to collect information and determine next steps,” a statement from the agency said.
The statement said the office has stopped placements of unaccompanied minor children in the states of California, New York, and Washington, which have been the hardest hit by the coronavirus. With more than 30,000 cases in New York, the state has become the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic in the United States.
“ORR is prioritizing local placements for all new referrals from DHS to limit air travel when possible,” the statement said.
The agency said 18 children have been tested for COVID-19, with three presumptive cases confirmed, 11 negative results, and 4 that are still pending.
The agency said if a health care provider or public health department recommends testing for a child, that they receive the testing. Any child showing symptoms is medically isolated from other children, pending negative test results, the agency said.
Five staff members and one staff contractor at three separate care provider facilities in New York recently tested positive for COVID-19, the statement said. One staff member at a facility in Texas, and one foster parent in Washington State have also tested positive.
“ORR is currently tracking down and notifying anyone that may have been exposed at these care provider facilities,’’ according to the statement.” The ORR medical team and affected programs are actively coordinating with state and local public health departments on appropriate public health measures.”
There are approximately 3,500 unaccompanied minor children presently in ORR care and custody.
The children are the latest in federal immigration custody to test positive for the virus which has spread quickly across the country, with more than 80,000 cases in the United States. More than 1,000 have died. The United States has more coronavirus cases than China, where the virus began.
Arizona Republic Reporter Daniel Gonzalez contributed to this report.
Monsy Alvarado is the immigration reporter for NorthJersey.com. To get unlimited access to the latest news about one of the hottest issues in our state and country, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.