COVID at Avenal

This story was told by a person incarcerated at Avenal.

UCI: Okay. Then how’s the COVID situation right now at Avenal?

Caller: We’re having actually another round. We already went through the first one about four or five months ago.

Pretty much the majority of my building got it, including me. And now here we are like I said about four or five months later, and they had a whole building go basically lockdown about yesterday or the day before. And then today, they tested the whole building and now I’m not sure what protocol they’re using for that.

UCI: So, how did they handle COVID-19 the first time around?

Caller: Basically, not at all. They didn’t institute social distancing until basically after it had become a relevant issue in the prison. And even then, they basically gave us these masks that weren’t really masks, they were kind of just like cloth like just strung together.

And then on top of that, they were saying basically like, you don’t have to wear them when you’re outside of your dorm, but if a sergeant walks into the building, put them on. You know, basically make it look like you’re doing something. And there’s, you know, they didn’t enforce social distancing because you can’t here. You know, they’re not doing anything to really give us any product to sanitize our dorms. They basically just let it run its course and kept themselves away from us.

UCI: So, I was going to … Do you know how your prison caught COVID-19, like who brought it in?

I don’t know specifically who, but from what I remember, about like I said, four or five months ago it was one of the kitchen staff I think that brought it in. And it was the main kitchen, so it kind of spread, you know, after that.

UCI: So, besides the masks, has there been any other changes that they’ve implemented?

Caller: They cleared out – so, there’s kind of a difference between the setting. So, in some of the buildings, and one of the buildings I’m in, there’s two floors of housing. So, you have the bottom floor, you know, like the first story, basically. And there’s one, two, three four, five.

There’re six racks in there. So, the middle two they taped off. They moved people out of those racks and basically put caution tape on them so nobody’s supposed to be on those or housed there. So, basically provide social distancing so to speak. But the other racks in the building or in the dorms aren’t, like they’re not less than six feet apart. So, there’s really no way to stop that. And we all live in close proximity to each other. And then I mean really other than that, there’s really nothing else that’s been implemented that’s keeping, you know, the spread down.

UCI: Do you have any ideas of what they should be doing?

Caller: I mean to be honest, they need to at least be giving us some sort of sanitation for our dorms, you know, for us that live in the dorms, not just the porters that mop and disinfect the sinks, you know, a couple times a day. You know, we need something that’s going to actively keep our dorms sanitized so that even if we do come into the dorm, you know, we can sanitize our areas as frequently as needed to make sure that none of us get sick.

And they recently actually changed out the soap dispensers. Because before, we didn’t even have soap dispensers. And then now they put them in. And then they switched them. So, now they’re these big steel boxes where you can’t even really get anything out of it. Maybe because they’re basically accusing us of draining it out and watering it down and using it for our own purposes. And now there’s a situation where we can’t even really get it out.

And when we do, it’s basically like, it’s detrimental to your hands. Like me personally, it started cracking my hands. It started burning my hands after a while. So, I mean me personally, I just take the state soap that they give us once a week and wash my hands with that.

UCI: That’s not very good.

Caller: No.