SAN DIEGO — Another group of migrant girls arrived in San Diego on Monday night headed for a stay at the San Diego Convention Center. It was unknown how many girls were in the group, but around 250 had been expected to arrive just days after nearly 500 arrived in San Diego over the weekend. The unaccompanied children seeking asylum are between the ages of 13 and 17.
The arrival of the new group came the same day as it was confirmed that over 30 from the weekend group had tested positive for COVID-19. On Tuesday, Health & Human Services said of the 247 girls received on Monday, 32 tested positive for COVID-19 bringing the total of positives to 70.
At least 27 of the girls in the group, who were transferred to California from a Border Patrol facility in Texas this weekend, tested positive for the virus, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The agency's Acting Regional Director Bonnie Preston said the cases stem from the Texas facility.
Another six girls tested positive after taking rapid tests while at the convention center.
None of the 33 had been hospitalized as of Monday. All were being treated and housed on a different floor of the convention center separate from the main area where the rest of the girls are staying.
The San Diego Convention Center opened Saturday night as a temporary shelter for unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the United States. The facility will operate as a “way station” where the children will stay until social workers can connect them with relatives or sponsors in the United States.
The asylum seekers are separated into pods of about 50, which won't intermingle.
The girls were tested for COVID-19 before arriving in San Diego and will be tested every three days while staying at the convention center, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The creation of such emergency intake sites is designed to shift the minors -- most of whom are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador -- more quickly out of U.S. Border Patrol custody while helping to alleviate overcrowding at border holding facilities.
On March 22, city and county officials announced that they would make the convention center available for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to use as a temporary shelter for minors up to age 17.
News 8 was told that early Monday the girls who arrived Saturday were tired and anxious as they arrived at the convention center.
“A lot of the girls were holding each other’s hands as they were being processed and brought in. So a lot of comfort, a lot of kindness, a lot of smiles being shared amongst staff and the girls but not a whole lot of verbal,” said Larissa Tabin, with SBCS, formerly known as South Bay Community Services.
The average child will stay for about a month at the shelter which can hold about 1,400 girls in total. During that time, social workers will try to confirm their identity and find relatives or sponsors in the U.S. where they can stay until their asylum cases are adjudicated. A judge must decide whether they can permanently stay in the U.S. or if they must return to their home countries.
The facility is scheduled to run through the end of June. City officials said they must be out by the middle of July because the convention center is scheduled to host its first convention in more than a year in early August.
A recreation area will also be used on the exterior of the facility. The children will not be permitted to leave the facility until they are reunified with family members in the United States or connected with other sponsors.
The Health and Human Services Refugee Resettlement Program will fund the temporary shelter, and additional partners include the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Center for Disease Control and the convention center.
WATCH: Questions and answers regarding migrant children staying at San Diego Convention Center