Employee Critical of Anti-Coronavirus Measures at Otay Mesa Detention Center

The employee is on medical leave right now, but said she won't be returning to work due to the lack of proactive measures there

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A woman who works at the Otay Mesa Detention Center claims the facility is not providing proper protection from coronavirus to its 400-plus offers in charge of caring for the detainees, despite another employee’s positive test results.

The woman, who only wanted to be identified as Margaret, went on medical leave March 17 before the first case of COVID-19 was detected there, but she’s not April fooling when she says she won’t be returning to work.

Margaret is a supervisor for CoreCivic, contracted to work at the facility, and is responsible for the day to day lives of detainees whose number is three times theirs.

CoreCivic announced Tuesday that an employee contracted COVID-19. They had no had no known physical contact with the detainee population, according to CoreCivic. Margaret said the employee was in charge of handing out equipment to other officers.

A spokesperson said a contact investigation involving Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshal Service is underway. CoreCivic is also attempting to notify other employees or contractors who may have been in contact with the individual who tested positive.

Since the positive case was confirmed, CoreCivic staffers have been identify those at high risk for infection at intake and are isolating them.

Margaret doesn’t think CoreCivic is doing enough to curtail the transmission of the disease within the facility, and claims she and other officers are risking their lives coming to work here every day. 

Margaret says there are 20 to 40 people crowded in one room during daily briefings. Officers charged with patting down detainees when necessary don't have proper gloves or masks. Detergents used in the facility fall short of proper cleaning, she said.

“The ones that fall through the cracks are the officers. Without the officers, that facility is not going to run,” she said.

CoreCivic is encouraging both staff and detainees to practice social distancing. Face masks are not routinely worn inside the facility but there are disposable gloves readily available.

Contact Us