State-run COVID-19 testing site for asylum seekers opens to prevent, slow transmission

State-run COVID-19 testing site for asylum seekers opens to prevent, slow transmission

Taylor Martinez via Riverside County Health

In order to protect the health and safety of border communities and migrants alike, the State of California today opened a new Testing, Vaccination and Receiving Center (TVRC) in Indio. The new testing site will provide critical support to County of Riverside teams receiving asylum seekers dropped off by the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) since early March.

The TVRC will operate seven days a week to provide COVID-19 testing for all families and individuals dropped off in Eastern Riverside County to ensure the safety of residents, response teams and asylum seekers. Strict COVID-19 safeguards are practiced at the TVRC to reduce and stop potential disease transmission. These safeguards include ensuring all staff and asylum seekers are wearing personal protective equipment.

“The opening of this site represents important progress towards protecting public health and safety in the communities near the border while maintaining dignity and respect for newly arrived immigrants,” said Tom Osborne, Deputy Director of Homeland Security at the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

In addition to tests, the county and state teams will provide medical screening, transportation to appropriate shelter accommodations and support with travel plans to asylum sponsors in other parts of the United States. Plans to offer COVID-19 vaccinations at the TVRC are planned for future operations.

“The opening of the Testing, Vaccination and Receiving Center is a great step in our coordinated response to this humanitarian need,” said Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez.  “It will definitely help, and I thank the State of California for fulfilling this request and supporting the county.”

The number of asylum seekers dropped off in Riverside County each day is entirely dependent upon CBP. Since early March when drop-offs began, the county has received more than 2,000 individuals throughout Riverside County. Approximately half of these individuals have needed to either isolate or quarantine based on a positive test within their family.

The length of time each family spends in Riverside County ranges from a few days to a couple weeks depending on if isolation or quarantine is needed. Any positive test results among asylum seekers are not counted in Riverside County’s ongoing coronavirus case numbers.

The costs for the TVRC will be funded by the State of California. The federal government has pledged to reimburse the county’s response costs. Travel to asylum sponsors is paid for by the families.

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