By Sean O’Brien June 2020, typed by Emelia O’Brien
On June 4th, 2020 I tested positive for COVID19. Wrongfully convicted and trapped in prison, it only seems fitting that I got Corona virus. There is nothing that I would have done to avoid it. No where else I could have gone. I wore the mask which was not provided to me until late April, 2020; over a month into the pandemic. But I am at the mercy of the state prison and the countless staff who come and go as CSP-Corcoran daily. Many who still believe COVID19 is a “hoax” and fail to wear their mask properly.
Thankfully COVID19 has not hit me as hard as it has hit some. My symptoms have only included nausea, vomiting, headache, and tiredness. I have had no respiratory symptoms. If it was not for the positive test results I would not have known I have COVID19. On June 2, my birthday, I was still feeling nauseous but the next day I began to feel improvements. I was still sick but beginning to feel better. We went on lockdown on June 3 and they told us it was because of positive COVID19 cases on the yard. Lockdown happened first thing in the morning, our out of cell time has been reduced from 8.5 hours per day to 1 hour per day or less if you don’t get to shower. I am locked in a cell 24 hours per day. All of our rehabilitation and education classes and programs have ben cancelled. They tested everyone on the yard on June 4th. The test results came back the morning of June 7th and they told us we had tested positive for Covid that morning and took our vitals for the first time.
The nurses come to take our vitals and ask about symptoms, but they have lots of other guys to get to and check. They have provided each of us who gets out vitals checked our own blood pressure cuff. It stays in a bag taped to our door and is only used by us. And they do clean the equipment after each use. The nurses do not know how long this will be for, of if they do they are not saying it to us. I want off this COVID19 isolation so I can call my wife. I wish I could have spoken to my lawyer on her scheduled legal call and found out more of what is going on. I am really upset the prison wouldn’t allow it.
Prison is isolating and the separation from family, especially during an unprecedented pandemic, is excruciating. There is nothing I can do to help or care for my wife. I do not know when the lockdown will end. I do not know when I will be able to call my wife, and with Covid cases most likely to increase, I have no idea when I will be able to see my wife again.
They should not have let anyone out to use the phones and move around until they re-tested all the guys who had negative test results in the first batch of testing . Instead, guys have been moving around outside their cells for days: phone calls, porters, getting out somehow and not locking up right away; including guys who tested negative for Covid who are on quarantine status living in a cell with a guy who tested positive for Covid. So all these guys have been moving around outside their cells, interacting with each other, potentially spreading the virus and they are only re-testing them now, about 11 days later. The problem is that it can take 2 to 14 days for some people to test positive. Potentially someone tested today could come back negative but then turn up sick in a few days. It is such chaos and stupidity. And officers are still not social distancing and some of them don’t wear masks correctly or they don’t wear the masks at all. I see this when medical does the afternoon and evening pill line. About 10 officers will come in with the nurses and all congregate together, often harassing the the inmates. There is no reason for the officers to come in other than intimidation and boredom. To me it is scary because they are bringing in the virus with them and potentially spreading it because of their failure to wear their masks or practice social distancing. I almost feel relieved I have Covid and have no more symptoms and I am feeling better. I say this because I would be so scared of catching it with the way the prison is doing things. I would be terrified of seeing all the guys going out in the ambulance to the hospital. I have seen many men leave on the ambulance for Covid related symptoms. Covid is very serious and scary and I am relieved I am ok physically.
California Department Of Corrections is incapable of protecting us from Covid or preventing it from getting in here, especially when their staff do not follow proper protocols such as wearing masks properly and failing to socially distance themselves even after they have been ordered to do so. The whole thing is cruel and unusual punishment. I should not be punished because the officers gave me Covid. This is all their fault. They are the ones that bring it in but they act like we are the problem. We did can not go anywhere, our visitors are not allowed in so you cannot blame our visitors, that leaves only inmates transferring from COVID19 hotspots and staff. I know it is inhumane to keep us in here. The prison is not safe. I am incredibly fortunate to be feeling as well as I am.