This letter was written by a person incarcerated at San Quentin.
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Dear PrisonPandemic Project,
I have a bit of sad news. My father died from COVID pneumonia on Friday, January 15, 2021. He was 83 years of age.
He and mom lived alone and they had taken every possible precaution to avoid COVID-19 (masks, face shields, gloves, hand-washing, hand sanitizer, social distancing, etc.) and stayed COVID-free all year long until Christmas.
A brief gathering on Christmas exposed him and mom to COVID-19. Within days, they had a fever, cough, and body aches. On Thursday, December 31, 2020 (New Year’s Eve) they dialed 911 and were taken to the hospital.
Many feared my mother, 74, would perish because of her severe health problems and her compromised immune system. But after a week of treatment, she started to feel better and was discharged. It would not go as well for dad.
The virus had alone completely destroyed his lungs. He died afraid, in severe pain, and worst of all, alone. His last words were please to see my mom, his wife and companion of over 54 years.
His death has caused me intense emotional pain. This is the absolute worst pain in my life. I cried for days and didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, I had access to mental health staff and the custody officers in North Block, along with sergeant and captain, have been very understanding and supportive.
I still have a duty, as president, to oversee multiple special elections in all of the housing units this month, but staff has encouraged me to take all the time I need to grieve.
According to my family, there are over 1,000 bodies in Santa Clara county waiting to be buried. Dad’s funeral will not take place until after Valentine’s day. Also, local laws only allow 10 individuals to attend a funeral.
Here at San Quentin, I applied for a TCL or Temporary Community Leave, to attend dad’s funeral, but it was denied because I have a violent felony conviction. I am working with Visiting staff on being able to live-stream the funeral in the visiting room via a platform called Web-X.
My dad is my hero. He and mom are my best friends. I love him deeply. I always will.
I will miss hearing his voice. Since visiting was suspended in March 2020, I am heartbroken that I was not able to see him or embrace him before he died.
I did speak to him and mom on Christmas Day. I told them that they were the loves of my life. I wish I could have warned him and mom, for the umpteenth time, to not go anywhere.
But they got tired of being locked in all the time.
I take COVID precautions seriously. Even more so now. I never refuse to be moved, tested, or to have my vitals taken.
Many on the line refuse to move, to be tested, or to be checked by the nurses as a form of protest. They don’t like to wear masks or social distance. I cringe when I see guys hug, handshakes, do fist bumps, or work out together on the fifth tier.
I respect their autonomy, but I wish I could encourage them to take this seriously. I hope my story can motivate the population to do the right thing.
By the way, my cell housing has changed to.
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