This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Tehachapi.
OK, so here’s my perspective on this coronavirus and how it can be like the flu. That it originated in China and that it has spread to Europe and Italy.
I remember watching the news and seeing it, they were saying that this is a plague from China. Then thousands were dying and I remember thinking at that time, like around March or April, that this was an end time prophecy like it says in Revelations. And then it just got worse and worse.
In prison, they didn’t start passing out masks until June and July. They made these facemasks out of thick cloth. Then around April they shut down our prison yard. And due to COVID there would be no yard or movement. How about kitchen workers or porters? How are they going to do the daily activities like clean, go to medical? And how about our groups like self-help and church services? So they all got shut down until they could figure out what to do. Prison officials started letting people go to work only if you are a critical worker. Medical was one at a time and if it wasn’t an emergency, they were not calling you.
Then around July they tested all of us to see who had coronavirus. Staff were required to wear masks. And some correction officers were careless and they didn’t. And so people and inmates started to get COVID-19. Inmates were symptomatic. They were moving them. So they were giving us yard one block at a time. We went from getting yard everyday to once every four days. Big difference. People complained, people agreed, and I didn’t like it. But if you wanted to be safe, you could stay in your cell. But anyway, that’s how it happened.
We were wearing masks and the prison implemented rules of social distancing and posted up memos and put videos about how to stay safe and healthy. I think it was cool and ethically and morally correct. But a lot of inmates didn’t care or they don’t follow the protocol. And inmates think, we don’t have it, so why should we be doing this social distancing?
But in August and September, it was getting worse. More people were getting sick. And they tested all of us again and some people were positive and weren’t sick and some that were sick tested negative. So inmates were thinking: How sure are these test things? And people who were sick, who knows what they gave them to get better? I think they just quarantined them for 14 days and gave them Tylenol and Motrin and told them to drink a lot of water. They also did temperature checks and vitals. Inmates were quarantined in their cells anyways. At yard, they took away the basketballs and handballs, so we just go out there and walk around. October was the same. We are just in the cells all day.
In November, I got transferred. Before you get transferred, you have to get tested for COVID-19 and test negative. I did. Since we arrived here, we have to quarantine for 14 days. Then they’ll move you to a housing unit.