Whistleblowers: COVID spread at Fort Bliss migrant shelter for kids but HHS told us to 'make everything sound positive'

In May, the Associated Press reported that migrant kids being kept at an Emergency Intake Shelter set up at Fort Bliss in El Paso were living in poor conditions. One child psychiatrist who visited the site mentioned that kids were catching COVID during their stay.

“The children are coming out sick, with COVID, infested with lice, and it will not surprise me to see children dying as a consequence, as we saw during the Trump years,” Cohen said. “The Biden administration is feverishly putting up these pop-up detention facilities, many of which have no experience working with children.”

At the time, HHS was planning to expand the facility at Fort Bliss from holding 4,500 kids up to 10,000 kids, but two weeks later HHS Sec. Xavier Becerra announced he was reversing course. Not only would the site not be expanding but the total of number of kids would drop to under 1,000.

At the time, Becerra described the conditions at the site as “adequate,” but earlier this month two whistleblowers filed complaints saying the conditions were “dire.” The entire facility was being managed by ServePro, a franchise business that does disaster cleanup and which had no experience managing facilities for children. Here’s a ServePro commercial from last summer:

The first whistleblower complaints were made three weeks ago. Today, NBC News reports that two more whistleblowers have come forward. They claim that COVID was spreading among kids at Fort Bliss but that staff were told to downplay it if asked.

“Covid was widespread among children and eventually spread to many employees. Hundreds of children contracted Covid in the overcrowded conditions. Adequate masks were not consistently provided to children, nor was their use consistently enforced,” the whistleblowers, Arthur Pearlstein and Lauren Reinhold, said in a federal whistleblower complaint filed Wednesday

But at the end of their service, they said, federal detailees were regularly given written instructions from HHS public affairs that told them, “when asked, to make everything sound positive about the Fort Bliss experience and to play down anything negative.”

COVID isn’t the only problem they were asked to downplay. According to the whistleblowers, the facility also covered up lice outbreaks and even riots.

Pearlstein and Reinhold also said the contractors gave children false hopes of reuniting with family members only to pull them back at the last minute, even taking children out of lines for buses and off airplanes before takeoff.

They also alleged there was widespread lice in girls’ tents that was left untreated. And in May, they said, there were riots in some of the boys’ tents.

“Ms. Reinhold witnessed security contractors surrounding a tent during one incident. Detailees were never briefed about the riots or trained on how to act in the event a riot broke out,” the complaint said.

In short, everything the child psychologist claimed about Fort Bliss back in May was true. No wonder Sec. Becerra suddenly reversed course on expanding the facility.

Now that we have these reports, will the media start paying attention to this story again? The surge of migrants at the border hasn’t ended yet but the story has mostly disappeared from front pages in the past several weeks. And what happened to all of the progressives concerned about “concentration camps?” They sure seem to have gone quiet lately even as the evidence keeps piling up that the Biden Administration has been housing kids in lice and COVID infested hell holes.