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On January 14, a week before President Biden’s inauguration, the Pentagon’s senior deputy general counsel at the time, William S. Castle, recommended that medical professionals be allowed to offer vaccinations to inmates. He noted that the Pentagon “has repeatedly asserted in litigation that detainees receive health care comparable to that afforded to active duty members on the island, and that the level and type of treatment depends on and conform to the accepted medical standard. of care.”

The US military base at Guantánamo has around 5,500 residents, including around 250 school-aged children, and a foreign workforce of around 2,200 Jamaican and Filipino workers who work under Pentagon contracts. The children are too young to be offered the vaccinations, but the foreign workers have been offered to them.

As of April 1, according to base health officials, all but about 400 adults were eligible for vaccines, and about 47 percent of those eligible had not taken a single dose. Health officials there were unwilling or unable to quantify how many of those people claimed to have refused to get a vaccine, which was offered in a basic ballroom that, before the pandemic, had served as a living room. bingo.

It is also unclear how many people have been infected with the coronavirus at the base, which is separated from Cuba proper by a minefield. The military acknowledged two cases in the first month, both involving servicemen who recovered, but then blackouted specific disclosures.

The military managed to prevent a major outbreak there by forcing people arriving from the United States to be quarantined for 14 days.

No war court hearing has been held for over a year and almost none of the defense attorneys have traveled there to meet with detainees due to the pandemic. The International Red Cross has also canceled a series of visits for the protection of unvaccinated detainees.

The few lawyers who traveled there and endured the two-week quarantine said they then met their clients under conditions they said made communication virtually impossible. Detainees and visitors were kept several meters apart, separated by plexiglass barriers, and wore protective clothing that left only their eyes exposed. They spoke through masks and had difficulty hearing.

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