This letter was written by a person incarcerated at Salinas Valley.
So we have TVs in here, so we get to see and hear all the news that is happening in the real world. When the pandemic first started playing out, I honestly was quite confused, because the Trump administration was saying that it wasn’t that big of a deal. But on the other hand, other countries were shutting down their economies and bodies were stacking up.
I didn’t know what to believe. All I kept hearing was that people with underlying conditions and the older population were the most vulnerable. I had a mother-in-law who was diabetic and up in age, as well as a daughter who was a cancer survivor who defeated lymphoma cancer, so I for one was terrified in a way.
I myself had been a long time drug user in my past before cleaning up, and had smoked at least a pack of cigarettes a day since I was 14 years old. I would have breathing problems, so like many others I was concerned.
Around last year, around this time we were all giving masks. They were this dark thick material. I ain’t going to lie, it was hard to breathe in and if you wear glasses as I do, they consistently would fog up.
We each were issued two of them. If you lost it, another one was hard to get. I don’t call them masks, I call them chin-straps cause that’s how majority of the inmate population wore them, including correction officers, unless a sergeant would walk in or some high ranking official.
They did start minimizing our yard and dayroom. Dayroom is a place where you can play cards or watch TV or congregate with fellow inmates. Social distancing was never enforced. As the days grew, a few would get sick to where they couldn’t take it and finally tell staff. So yeah, inmates didn’t want to go to quarantine for two weeks and the buildings would go on lockdown.