Two Guards at an ICE Detention Center With a Major Coronavirus Outbreak Have Died

Colleagues say the men died of COVID-19. Test results are pending.

Inmates on cots at Winn Correctional Center in Louisiana while Mother Jones' Shane Bauer worked there as a guard.Shane Bauer/Mother Jones

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Two guards at Louisiana’s Richwood Correctional Center, where at least 45 people in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody have tested positive for COVID-19, have died in recent days, according to the local coroner’s office and colleagues’ posts on Facebook.

The Ouachita Parish coroner’s office confirmed both deaths and said that COVID-19 test results are pending. Mother Jones is withholding the men’s names to protect their family’s privacy.

On Facebook, colleagues mourning the deaths pointed to complications from COVID-19 as the cause of death. “We are going through it at Richwood Correctional,” one woman wrote. “2 of my coworkers has passed due to COVID-19 and plenty are infected y’all keep us in your prayers.”

“Prayers for my richwood family need as much as they can get right now!!!!” a second person posted. In response to a comment asking what happened, he wrote, “corona.”

LaSalle Corrections, the private prison company that runs Richwood, has not responded to multiple requests for comment. ICE spokesperson Bryan Cox referred inquiries to LaSalle Corrections, confirming that the two men are not ICE employees.

Richwood has more confirmed COVID-19 cases among people in detention than all but two of ICE’s detention facilities. Across the country, 425 of the 705 people in detention ICE tested had COVID-19, the agency revealed Tuesday. ICE’s 60 percent positive test rate is more than three times higher than the national average, further evidence that ICE is not testing many people who are infected.

Public health experts have been warning for more than a month that outbreaks in immigration detention centers were inevitable if ICE refused to use its power to release large numbers of people. ICE largely ignored those recommendations. 

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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