This letter was written by a person incarcerated at SATF (California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison).
Despite all the precautions taken, an outbreak ultimately took place. It began with isolated cases, which were then followed by program shutdown and COVID-tests. As the outbreak became apparent, prison officials designated one of the three buildings in the facility as a quarantine building.
It began moving all of the infected people there and moving the non-infected people to the other two buildings with the intention to stave off the outbreak. However, things didn’t turn out as planned, as the outbreak continued to grow. Prison officials this time put the whole facility on quarantine and moved the rest of the people who’ve yet to test positive to another facility where there are so-called settings so that each person can be isolated from those that might infect them.
These actions by the prison officials, as good as they may sound, were futile. Due to the incubation period, and the four to five days it takes for the test results to return, people began showing symptoms after they have moved to the other buildings. Thus, cross-infections occurred. The outbreak lasted a month. There was no death in the facility that I am in but, last I checked, there were six deaths in this prison. Overall, and even to this day, only about five percent of the population have never been tested positive for COVID-19.
Most infected people showed symptoms such as lost of taste, fatigue, and persistent coughs to name a few. The majority of the people recovered from the illness in a couple of weeks and did not have any lingering problems. Those with major complications took longer to heal and have many lingering problems. Perhaps the most astounding, although not surprising, thing is no medical treatment was given. The infected people were basically told to “ride it out” by medical staff.
Through it all, the only thing that negatively impacted the people in prison the most, other than the loss of visitation, was the mental toll of moving. The stress of each move and the knowledge that you could be move if your test comes back positive was unnerving. Anyone who has moved to a new place, or have traveled can understand the loss of what little comforts he or she accustomed to.
It’s the uncertainty that we have to deal with when going to a new place. Like, for example, meeting new people who come with their own personalities and quirks, or moving to the bunk area without knowing if it is infected with COVID-19 by the previous occupant. On top of that, many were dealing with the coronavirus that is affecting their health.