News & Politics

Nightmare in Chicago: Coronavirus Outbreak in Shelter for Immigrant Youth, 19 Kids Test Positive

Vials with samples taken for the new coronavirus are counted before they are prepared for RNA testing at the molecular pathology lab at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Thursday, April 2, 2020. The test is identical to the PCR test being used by the Centers for Disease Control to ease the testing crisis and stop the spread of COVID-19, which has hit the New Orleans area especially hard. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

At a Chicago shelter for immigrant detainees, at least 19 children and two staffers have tested positive for the new and deadly Chinese coronavirus. This is the largest known outbreak of the virus in shelters for unaccompanied minors.

Heartland Human Care Services officials said in an email sent to staff Sunday that the first positive test results were reported at its Bronzeville shelter on Friday. Over the weekend, the additional cases were confirmed.

The Heartland Alliance, the umbrella nonprofit organization that oversees the shelter program, fears that this is just the start. “We are operating under the assumption that we will see additional positive diagnoses as we receive results from the other tests that have been administered, and the steps we are taking to ensure the health and safety of our participants and staff are based on that assumption,” spokeswoman Mailee Garcia wrote in a statement as quoted by ProPublica. “The prognosis for all of the children in our care is very good, and we are continuing to focus on our participants’ health and well-being.”

This is extremely troubling news because, at least in Europe, we have been told that children have little to nothing to fear from this virus. They aren’t supposed to get very sick and supposedly only play a very minor role in the spread of the pandemic.

If this outbreak is confirmed, it’s definitely time to rethink that position. Clearly, kids are just as able to spread the virus as adults, especially if you put them in closed environments such as shelters and schools.

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