WASHINGTON– The Pentagon announced Saturday they would pause their strategy to provide coronavirus vaccinations to detainees at Guantánamo Bay, reversing course simply days after they stated that the vaccine would be administered to those that wanted it.
” No Guantanamo detainees have been vaccinated. We’re stopping briefly the plan to progress, as we examine force security procedures. We stay dedicated to our commitments to keep our soldiers safe,” stated John Kirby, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, in a tweet.
Kirby’s statement came just over an hour after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tweeted that President Joe Biden “told us he would have a plan to defeat the infection on day 1. He just never ever informed us that it would be to provide the vaccine to terrorists prior to the majority of Americans.”
The marine base in Cuba has 6,000 residents, including 1,500 U.S. soldiers who work at the jail, where 40 prisoners stay. By law, detainees should get all of their health care on the base and there is only one neighborhood health center to service the location.
Some public health specialists and criminal justice advocates have actually argued that incarcerated individuals need to be high up on the top priority list to receive the vaccine, as lots of are detained in tight quarters and are in close contact with prison staff, producing ripe conditions for an extensive Covid-19 breakout.
It is not known the number of people at Guantánamo have actually been infected with Covid-19 The Pentagon in March 2020 prohibited commanders from publicly reporting new coronavirus cases among their personnel as cases surged worldwide.
The pandemic has actually delayed military commission procedures at Guantánamo, including the joint death-penalty trial for the guys accused of outlining the Sept. 11, 2001 fear attacks, which was at first arranged to start Jan. 11, 2021.
Guantánamo Bay has housed hundreds of wartime detainees given that the 9/11 attacks and legislators for many years have actually struggled to close the prison, which is expensive to run and has actually given questions about human rights infractions. President Joe Biden said during his campaign that he supported closing the detention center, however offered no concrete timetable or commitment to doing so.
A group of former detainees who at one point were apprehended at Guantánamo Bay penned a letter to Biden in the New York Review of Books on Friday prompting him to shut down the facility.
” President Bush opened it. President Obama assured to close it, but failed to do so. President Trump promised to keep it open. It is now your turn to shape your legacy with regards to Guantánamo,” they composed.
Lauren Egan is a press reporter for NBC News based in Washington.