I Survived the Apocalypse

I Survived the Apocalypse

My inbox says I have 2 emails. I click each and discover that one is from the chaplain, something about being thankful for our situation yadda-yadda–I promptly click delete. The other email is from the medical department.

We’re being ‘encouraged’ to update our next of kin contact information. The email says that there have been a number of ‘incidents’ where next of kin couldn’t be contacted. I think: That’s what they’re calling COVID hospitalizations and deaths ‘incidents’?

I sit for a second to remember what my contact information currently reads. The email insists that if they don’t have accurate information then they can’t contact family “should something happen to you”. I conclude that my information is accurate, but if it isn’t, I’m not worried. The last thing I want to do is worry my family, so either way it works for me.

As for the email from the chaplain? We’ve been receiving a lot of them lately. Emails citing verse from the Bible, Koran, Torah about how we should turn to god during these times. This whole COVID thing has been as big of a bonanza for organized religion (“It’s the End of Days!”) as it has been for funeral homes.

Ohio Corrections Failure of Leadership

COVID finally finished mercilessly tearing through my dormitory  a little over a week ago.   My unit was quarantined for more than 2 weeks. While we were locked inside I watched, day in and day out, as man after man sickened to the point of needing emergency medical services. Not once were we COVID tested to separate the healthy from the sick. The main avenue of determining infection was to take our temperature twice a day and to finger test our O2 levels. Since 90% of all COVID infections are asymptomatic, this method fails completely. I know the state and the institution know this. The whole world knows this. Yet, this is all that was and is done here. The end result? Terrible sickness, long-term health consequences, and inmate deaths.

There was a time when I thought that the state of Ohio had a well thought out plan to handle COVID in its institutions. I now know first- hand that this was an illusion, and any insistence otherwise is to perpetrate a lie upon the public, inmates, and their families. To contrast Ohio corrections with other states across the nation consider this:

In Clinton, NJ at the Edna Mahon Correctional Facility (EMCF), the entire population of inmates are tested for COVID multiple times over a period of a week. Positive cases are moved to a special quarantine unit. After 2 weeks these inmates are tested again, and those that test negative are returned to regular population. Those testing positive remain in quarantine until a negative test.

In Sioux Falls, SD at the South Dakota Womens Prison (SDWP) the entire population is COVID spit tested regularly. Positive cases are quarantined in a unit at the main prison for 2 weeks. A negative test is then needed in order to return the inmate population.

In Ypsilanti, MI at the Women’s Huron Valley correctional facility (WHV), the entire population is COVID tested. Positive cases are quarantined and then there is a step-down process before inmates are returned to regular population.

In Ashville, TN at the Tennessee Prison For Women (TPW), the inmate population is tested for COVID. Positive cases are then quarantined and do not return to population without a negative test.

In Shakopee, MN at MCF Shakopee, positive COVID cases are quarantined and do not return to regular population without first testing negative.

In Winnebago, WI at the Taycheedah Correctional Institution (TCI), the entire inmate population is tested for COVID. Positive cases are quarantined in a special housing unit for 2 weeks and do not return to population without a negative test.

As it is in Concorde, New Hampshire at the New Hampshire Correctional institution For Women;

As it is in Pueblo, CO at the La Vista Correctional Facility; and Denver, CO at the Denver Womens Facility;

As it is in Pearl, MS at the Central Mississippi Corretional Facility;

As it is in Windham, ME at the Maine Correctional Facility for women.

A Timeline of Death

To understand how COVID-19 spreads through our prisons, Ohio institutions are excellent models of what NOT to do. I wrote about COVID here from the very first case. Watch the spread unfold for yourself.

From Video Fridays In 60 Seconds #36
“This past week saw an explosion of COVID cases here amongst staff, all traced back to one individual. In an effort to try and stop further spread, more than 60 staff were sent home for quarantine. This scenario is hauntingly similar to that leading up to Marion Correctional’s, Pickaway Correctional’s, and Belmont Correctional’s COVID-19 spread. Between these institutions alone, dozens of inmates perished.”

From Coronavirus: A Letter of Worry:                                                                   

“Well, it looks as if our “beautiful island” isn’t going to dodge the Coronavirus Death March after all. For the past several months I’ve blogged about how my Ohio facility has remained an odd oasis in a sea of pandemic. I’ve watched the world outside slowly contort and twist upon itself as the virus has slayed its way across the planet. All of us here have watched apprehensively as several Ohio prisons exploded into worse case scenarios…”

“This past Friday I mentioned the scenario just now unfolding at my facility. Since then more staff have fallen ill and even more have been sent home for quarantine. But the news that really has our attention is the probable first inmate case of COVID-19, a recent arrival from the reception center. One of the cell blocks has been designated for quarantine and that’s where you’ll go if you get sick. And, that’s where you will stay until you get better or until you die. That’s the reality of COVID-19 for inmates.”

From Video Fridays In 60 Seconds #37:

“This weekend brought the first community spread inmate case, a second came mid-week, and Thursday brought 5 more positive, sick inmates. Two dorms, approximately 240 inmates have been locked down. They have remained that way as of this writing. No one  is telling us what’s actually happening. I’ve had to rely upon avid observation and extensive use of “the grapevine.” As of this writing, there are 12 known positive inmate cases and a dozen known staff cases. The only question now is, how many of us are going to die in the coming weeks?”

From Video Fridays In 60 Seconds #38:

“Hundreds of inmates here are on quarantine, and nearly150 have tested positive. There are so many positive cases that the entire gym has been cleared and refitted with beds to house them. To make things worse, no one is telling us anything. So we are all left to wonder and worry. The lack of communication is causing unnecessary suspicion and distrust amongst the guys here, and I’m baffled at it all. If someone would appraise all of us I think there would be understanding and collective action. There’s no containment of the virus, and some of the symptomatic cases have become life threateningly I’ll. By this time next week we will likely have lost lives here.”

From Video Fridays In 60 Seconds #39:

“There are so many positive cases here no one really knows for sure how many there are save for medical staff…On Thursday 4 men were uprooted from the COVID positive MC Unit, and {italics} distributed {end italics} to two other COVID negative units: JC Unit and MB Unit. What the hell happened? Who ordered that? No one is saying, and the nursing staff were visibly angry and upset over the action.

As an inmate, what am I to think of this? There’s rumors being circulated by staff that the powers that be want the virus to ‘run it’s course’ so we can be done with it, rather than incur all the expense and trouble. We’re told that a close look was made at Marion correctional and Pickaway correctional, 2 institutions where thousands of inmates fell positive earlier in the year. The conclusion was that the loss of life was acceptable.

In Conclusion

Why does Ohio corrections allow COVID to spread and kill inmates, and then spread into our communities? Is it all about dollars and cents? Is it political? I think the answer is far simpler than that: Maybe it’s because we’re ‘just inmates’.

—Christopher—

For a complete historical chronology of COVID’s effects at my institution and across the state of Ohio view the following posts: Video Fridays In 60 Seconds #24, #25, #26, #27, #28, #29, #30, #32, #33, #34, #36 #37, #38 and #39; “Coronavirus: A Letter of Worry

 

 

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