The La Joya Police Department in Texas said Monday that a migrant family ''coughing and sneezing without covering their mouths and … not wearing face masks'' at a fast-food restaurant told him they were released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection due to a positive COVID-19 test, prompting a public health warning.
The police department shared details of the incident in a Facebook post on July 26.
A concerned citizen, they said, ''explained to the Officer that she had observed a family group who were not being observant of proper health guidelines. She stated that the family was coughing and sneezing without covering their mouths and were not wearing face masks.
''The Officer was also told by Whataburger management that they wanted the people to leave the establishment due to their disregard to other people's health.
''The Officer approached the family and was told by them that they had been apprehended by Border Patrol days prior and were released because they were sick with COVID-19.''
The police said the family was also housed at a hotel by a charity group, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, and that a group of about 20 to 30 immigrants who had entered the country illegally and were detained by the Border Patrol were also staying there and were out and about, ''the majority without face masks.''
''It was also learned that people being detained by Border Patrol that showed symptoms of illness or were positive for COVID-19 were being quarantined by the agency and then later they were given custody to Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley to be placed in hotels in the McAllen area as well as La Joya,'' the post said.
After finding out about the migrant families, Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez issued a statement calling on federal agents and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to better protect the community from COVID-19.
''We have been doing well as a community in slowing the spread of this deadly virus. … But ill-conceived policies by both the federal and state governments are beginning to have serious consequences on Hidalgo County,'' he said. ''I call on federal immigration officials to stop releasing infected migrants into our community and I am further calling on Governor Abbott to return to Hidalgo County the safety tools he took away that would help us slow the spread of this disease.''
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