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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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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