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In an interesting twist of news from a month ago, Guatemala had suspended receiving deportations from the US saying that the US has sent them Covid-19-infected deportees.

Well, one flight - the first one was from March - on March 26 from Mesa, Ariz. It had about 41 Guatemalans, including about 10 kids. And so far, they believe about 75% of that flight ended up testing positive for coronavirus. And then the second flight was just on Monday, and officials told the Associated Press that about 60% of that flight, about 44 people out of 76 - and that came from Brownsville, Texas - have tested positive for coronavirus. And the Guatemalan government for some time has been afraid of this exact scenario - that the U,S. could be potentially exporting coronavirus to Guatemala, which has been relatively unaffected so far. There's about 215 confirmed cases, which means that between these two flights alone, I mean, that's about 35% of the confirmed cases in the entire country. [...]

So the interesting thing is that ICE has established health protocol for these deportation flights and actually sort of stepped up that health protocol because the Guatemalans have sort of stopped and started flights a few times, accepting deportations from the U.S. because of these health concerns. But all that they do is screen for obvious symptoms and take people's temperatures. They do not test for coronavirus as opposed to the Guatemalans who've been testing people when they get back. So it's very interesting that the U.S. has decided to send the CDC team to test the results that the Guatemalans are seeing given that the U.S. itself is not testing deportees before it sends them to Guatemala.

Has the US CDC team sent to investigate the Guatemalan claims reported anything back yet, insofar? If so, what were their findings, and what was the ultimate effect, e.g. have deportations resumed after some additional precautions?

  • I question the reporter's facts there... on May 15, according to WaPo, Guatemala had 1487 confirmed and 31 deaths. – CGCampbell May 22 at 23:19
  • @CGCampbell: that piece is from a month ago (April 17). I clearly said so in my first sentence. – SX welcomes ageist gossip May 23 at 22:03
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    Sigh, you're right, wasn't paying close enough attention. I couldn't find anything public by the team, not that they'd put out anything public, and the CDC is having enough internal troubles and with Exec Branch that I'd be surprised with a leak or uncleared statement. – CGCampbell May 24 at 1:53
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Although I can find no direct information about the trip from the CDC itself, on the day after the NPR story the NY Times reported the following:

In a televised speech late Friday, President Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala weighed in, saying that technicians from the C.D.C. had randomly tested 12 deportees who had arrived on the Monday flight and that all the tests had resulted positive on Friday.

Since then, deportations from the US to Guatemala have resumed, now with testing before departure. It is possible that the CDC trip had something to do with this, but again I cannot find direct confirmation. The following is from the AP, reported May 15 by way of US News and World Report:

Three Guatemalans deported from the United States this week tested positive for the novel coronavirus upon arrival in their country, Guatemala's Foreign Ministry said Friday.

The May 13 flight from Alexandria, Louisiana carried 65 adults, according to the country's immigration institute. More than 100 Guatemalan deportees have tested positive after arriving from the U.S.

[...]

On April 13, a deportation flight from Alexandria, Louisiana carried at least 71 infected Guatemalans. The CDC sent a team after that flight to confirm Guatemala's testing.

Guatemala suspended flights several times, including after that case, to pressure the U.S. government to better screen deportees. The country's health officials have complained that the deportees represent a significant portion of Guatemala's infections.

The U.S. had started testing deportees for the virus before their flights, but another deportee tested positive this month even after the U.S. certified he had tested negative before leaving.

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