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COVID-19 Case In Refugee Camp At Southern Border ‘Could Potentially Be Catastrophic’

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A refugee camp along the U.S. southern border faces its first confirmed case of COVID-19 as 2,000 people await their immigration court dates, according to a non-governmental medical organization.

Global Response Management, a nonprofit that provides emergency medical care to underserved areas, released a statement Tuesday about the positive case. “The presence of COVID-19 in an already vulnerable population exposed to the elements could potentially be catastrophic,” the group said.

While the positive case presents a clear danger, three of the patient’s family members tested negative with two other tests pending, according to the statement.

Located in Matamoros, Mexico, the refugee camp has previously garnered national attention for its squalid living conditions, lack of basic resources like food and water, and unsanitary practices.

“I face cold, hunger and everything because I don’t have resources, and my daughter doesn’t either,” a woman at the camp told the AP in November.

For months, there have been serious concerns about the possibility that COVID-19 would reach the camp.

“It’s a perfect storm of where something can go really, really bad. There is no real access to the full spectrum of medical care, there’s no potential for social distancing, and it’s a disadvantaged population,” Sam Bishop, a project coordinator for Global Response Management, told The Nation in April. “70 percent of the camp could be infected in four weeks.”

While there were reports that five people in the camp were showing symptoms for COVID-19 in April, Tuesday’s statement confirms the first positive case.

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Spencer Landis

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