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Thirteen test positive for COVID-19 at L.A. County juvenile camp

Thirteen people have tested positive for the coronavirus at an L.A. County juvenile camp this week, marking the first time youths already in custody have contracted the illness, officials said.

Seven juveniles and six Probation Department employees assigned to the Dorothy Kirby Center in Commerce have tested positive since June 15, officials announced in a weekly report on the virus’ spread in juvenile facilities.

Six of the youths were asymptomatic, and one became mildly ill, officials said. The status of the employees who tested positive was not immediately clear, said Adam Wolfson, a spokesman for the Probation Department. The employee who first tested positive has not been at work since June 11, Wolfson said.

Until this week, all of the juveniles who had tested positive for COVID-19 found out they were sick during the Probation Department’s intake process, meaning they contracted the disease before they were in custody.

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The Dorothy Kirby Center houses youths struggling with mental illness or addiction whose cases have already been adjudicated. There are roughly 55 youths at the facility, living in “cottage"-style housing, Wolfson said.

Eight juveniles were living in the cottage where the sickened staffer was assigned, said Wolfson, who added that officials are testing the rest of the facility’s population.

Since the pandemic began, 23 juvenile detainees and 39 probation employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, records show. None have died or been hospitalized, and 15 of the probation employees have since returned to work.

Some advocates and attorneys have expressed frustration that at-risk youths were not being released from custody early at a time when most rehabilitative and education services have been suspended. Overall, records show the Probation Department has lowered the population of its juvenile halls and camps from 840 in early March to 520 as of June 12.


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