This story was told by a person incarcerated at SATF (California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison).
My fear became reality that in spite of mask wearing, many inmates became illed by this deadly virus. As testing became available for us, so did the amount of inmates who were testing positive for COVID-19. From this prison yard, I could see the level two yard inmates being escorted out their pods to be quarantined, week after week.
I was growing concerned just to think how terrifying it was to die of breathing problems, living in eight-men pods and spreading the virus from inmate to inmate. I am in a two-men cell and I thought I was safer than those in eight-men pods.
One morning, as I watched the news, they talked about 667 inmates being infected with COVID. Then two weeks later another 770-something inmates and staff were infected with COVID. D yard level four inmates went on a lockdown because 300 inmates came out positive in the very few weeks when testing had just begun.
Inmates from my yard, level three, had to go to the central kitchen and take their assigned job and cook for all the yard at this facility. My cellmate was one of these people going over to a level four yard and do the work.
He was so afraid of catching the virus where many inmates from that yard had just come out positive a few weeks before. Little by little, inmates from my level three yard started to give positive COVID tests.
Testing began here every Friday and then twice a week. One morning after seeing many inmates testing positive ,the building I was in was going to be used as a quarantine block. And then the movement began. Groups as many as 10 inmates were being moved to other buildings from shift in and shift out.
My group was the last one to leave building one around a time we went to building three where as weeks went by the testing and the COVID positives kept coming up. Two weeks later, my celly came out positive. He had many symptoms from fever to fatigue to weakness. He told me he had never felt like that before. I gave him some Tylenol and two days later he felt better.
The day they told him he was positive I was concerned with my health due to the fact that two years ago I caught valley fever, another respiratory disease which almost killed me. Having the valley fever still in my system and dealing with COVID, I thought it was going to be tough for me.
I was told I had to move to two building because I had been exposed to COVID. They ended up turning three building into quarantine block when hundreds of inmates tested positive. I was moved by myself to two block that same night. The cop told me he was going to put another inmate in there with me.
This inmate went in to live in another cell with someone else but the next morning he was told he came out positive and was moved to one of the quarantine blocks. Two days after being in two block I went to test. This time I came out positive.
That same day many other who also came out positive were told we are going to be quarantined. All two quarantine blocks were filled with COVID positive so we were moved to A yard level two gym. We were close to 50 inmates inside a gym, some with mild symptoms, some with very bad symptoms.
Many would share their stories of how they got it and how their smell and taste was lost for many weeks. My symptoms were very mild. I only experienced sore throat, headache, and runny nose and some flem. We spent from 14 to 20 days cooped up in a gym where some nurses use to come to check our vitals twice a day.