New Mexico Congressional Delegation Seeks Accountability Following COVID-19 Outbreak at Cibola County Correctional Center

August 17, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C.– On Friday, U.S. Representatives Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02), Deb Haaland (NM-01), and Ben Ray Luján (NM-03) and Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich raised serious concerns with the Directors of the U.S Marshals Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and CoreCivic, which privately operates the Cibola County Correctional Center, about their shared ability to effectively manage COVID-19 within its facilities following an outbreak that led to hundreds of positive cases. 

“We write to express serious concerns regarding recent COVID-19 test results showing a significant rise in positive cases among inmates and staff at the Cibola County Corrections Center (Cibola),” the delegation wrote, “This increase in positive COVID-19 cases raises questions on CoreCivic’s preparation and ability to keep inmates, detainees and staff safe, and puts the county of Cibola, NM, which is designated as a primary care health professional shortage area by the Health Resources and Services Administration, at risk of viral exposure.” 

The delegation continued, “We are concerned that while CoreCivic stated it implemented a ‘Coronavirus Medical Action Plan’ for all facilities it operates, ordered test kits for COVID-19, and developed contingency plans in the case of an outbreak, it was not until NMDOH directed Cibola to conduct mass testing—with test kits provided by the state—that CoreCivic realized it had a massive viral outbreak in its facility endangering the safety of inmates, detainees, staff and the local community.”

The delegation also drew attention to reports that correctional officers working at the Cibola facility are not wearing adequate PPE when escorting COVID-19 positive inmates into the local hospital, “which jeopardizes the safety of hospital workers and patients and puts a strain on the hospital’s PPE stockpile [...] and also affects the hospital’s ability to continue elective procedures, which local residents depend on for critical health care and the hospital depends on for monthly revenue.” 

Read the full letter by clicking here.