Mesa Verde is located in the heart of a region that has high rates of coccidioidomycosis cases, a disease also known as “cocci,” valley fever, or death dust. For most, valley fever is a momentary illness, but for some people, it can be life-threatening, requiring hospitalization or a lifetime of medical treatment.
It’s enough of a public health concern for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to spend $5 million to screen inmates held in prisons in the Central Valley in response to federal court supervision. The CDCR also moved more than 2,000 California inmates from Central Valley prisons earlier this year because of the health risks associated with valley fever.
Those at high risk for severe cases of valley fever include Black, Hispanic, and Asian people–who, due to the systemic racism and inequities in our criminal justice and immigration enforcement systems, are also the ones most likely to be detained at Mesa Verde.
The situation is particularly troubling considering that many of the future Mesa Verde detainees face deportation to countries where valley fever does not exist or with medical systems that are ill-equipped to treat it.