COVID Prison Testimonies: Mark Kersey in Virginia, September 2020

September 17, 2020
Mark Kersey
Sussex I State Prison, Virginia

Dear Friends, 

I hope & pray this correspondence reaches and finds each of you experiencing well being, especially in light of these critical times that are hard to deal with. 

I am a fairly new subscriber to the “Prison Health News” which I am grateful to be a recipient of. The information contained in each issue is very informative. 

I would like to contribute to the cause of keeping the prisons of Virginia population informed on various health news. 

As of now Sussex I State Prison has had a major COVID-19 “outbreak.” I believe it started being contracted through the facility’s kitchen supervisors who passed it on to the offenders who work in the kitchen. 

Continue reading “COVID Prison Testimonies: Mark Kersey in Virginia, September 2020”

COVID-19 Updates: Delta Variant and Vaccinations

By Lily H-A

From PHN Issue 47, Fall 2021

A newer variant of the COVID-19 virus called the delta variant, which is more than twice as contagious as earlier variants of the virus, is now the most common coronavirus variant in the US. Earlier in the summer, US cases had dropped to some of their lowest levels since the beginning of the pandemic, but now the delta variant is driving new surges. In the US, Southern states are currently most affected. Hospitals in some heavy-hit areas have reached their capacity. Many states, after rolling back COVID-19 restrictions earlier in the summer, are putting some restrictions back in place. There have also been new lockdowns in some jails and prisons after outbreaks.

Based on data coming out so far, it seems like the currently available vaccines are still very good at preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths from the delta variant. The large majority of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are people who were not vaccinated, and spread of COVID-19 seems to be worse in communities with low vaccination rates. But, vaccines do seem to offer less protection from people getting milder cases of COVID-19 with the delta variant, and spreading it to others, than with earlier variants.

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COVID Prison Testimonies: Randy Wynn in federal prison, May 2020

May 7, 2020
Randy Wynn
United States Penitentiary Lompoc, California

As you can see, I am writing from USP Lompoc, CA. Because of the coronavirus, we have been in lockdown over six weeks. The first four weeks we were allowed a 10-minute shower, and the next day 20-minute phone calls. Then came the 24/7 lockdown with no showers or phone calls. We went 17 days without a shower. This week, one day 15-minute shower and the next day 15-minute phone calls. By 11 a.m. we have received all three meals. The cells are very very small, and I do have a celly [cellmate]. I can almost touch both walls at the same time. No room to walk or exercise. The food is not enough. Have not seen the sunshine in over six weeks. To top it off, I was very sick from March 24 to April 4, 2020. And when I said sick, I mean sick. Did not think I was going to make it. I am 60 years old. I see no end in sight. So my question to you is, how healthy is this for a 60 year old? I look forward to hearing from you ASAP please. Thank you for your time. Stay safe.

Continue reading “COVID Prison Testimonies: Randy Wynn in federal prison, May 2020”

COVID Prison Testimonies: “Coordinated Manslaughter” by C.S. Robledo, paralegal

May 6, 2021
by C.S. Robledo
Colorado Department of Corrections

The Colorado Department of Corrections presents a facade of honesty, integrity, and progressive agenda to the rest of the world, while simultaneously violating prisoner rights. During this pandemic, one prison in particular decided to handle COVID-19 in its own way. Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility (AVCF) is an old prison in Ordway, Colorado. It is essentially in the middle of nowhere.

Continue reading “COVID Prison Testimonies: “Coordinated Manslaughter” by C.S. Robledo, paralegal”

COVID Prison Testimonies: Scotty in California, June 2020

June 23, 2020

I am a “high risk” medical lifer (LWOP [life sentence without possibility of parole]) out here in the Central Valley of California at a joint called CSATF-SP at Corcoran. We have been on a modified lockdown since March 15, 2020, with “masks reusable” cloth types given on April 12, 2020. Most convicts comply with wearing them. However, when the staff (CO’s) refuse, it has caused issues, to say the least, with COVID-19 getting behind the prison walls. We all know the potential deadly link comes from the outside world. We (convicts) are threatened with RVR’s [rules violation reports] if we don’t comply with mandatory masks. The prison website is telling the world that hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies are available, and that is not factual at all. Continue reading “COVID Prison Testimonies: Scotty in California, June 2020”

COVID Prison Testimonies: Richard S. Gross

May 5, 2020
by Richard S. Gross
SCI Phoenix, Pennsylvania

We have been locked down here at SCI Phoenix since the end of March. Four cell cohorts come out for 40 minutes to shower, use the phone and kiosk, maybe go outside in the concrete courtyard. The time goes fast. For two weeks around Easter, my block was under 24-hour quarantine. We didn’t even get to shower during the first 8 days, then got out one cell at a time every other day for 10 to 15 minute showers. The showers were cleaned after each use.

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COVID Prison Testimonies: Parish Brown

February 19, 2021
by Parish Brown
Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections

I wrote this poem in the beginning of this COVID pandemic. My first thought was, will I see my mother again? My second thought was, I should be safe because the only way I could get it is through the staff and the DOC is going to take extra care of their staff, right? But I was wrong. The COVID entered the prison as fast as the convicts that is housed in it. Before I even felt the symptoms of COVID it attacked my mental health. Everything I did became excessive. I washed my hands so much that my skin started to pull off around my fingernails. Cleaning my cell went from two times a day to five times a day. With only an hour for rec, I took a half hour shower. I did all of that and still caught COVID. I couldn’t eat for the first five days. I found out after I went to the hospital that I had pneumonia. I thought that I wasn’t going to make it because mentally I wasn’t prepared to fight it. I pulled through because I didn’t want my family to remember me for this. I have a higher purpose and through my poetry you’ll hear my voice. Continue reading “COVID Prison Testimonies: Parish Brown”

COVID-19 and Vaccination Update

By Lily H-A

From PHN Issue 46, Spring/Summer 2021

On February 27, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a third COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Johnson & Johnson (J&J, sometimes called “Janssen”) under the same shortened process as the other two currently approved vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna).

The J&J vaccine only requires one dose instead of two, and doesn’t need ultra-cold refrigeration, so it’s easier to distribute. It also uses slightly different technology from Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines. All three vaccines work by making the cells in your body produce harmless proteins that look like parts of the coronavirus, which teaches your immune system how to recognize and destroy the actual coronavirus if it enters your body. Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines use a messenger called mRNA to do this, while J&J’s uses a deactivated virus called an adenovirus. This deactivated virus cannot infect you, and is not the same as the coronavirus.

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COVID-19 Treatment Options

By Frankie Snow

From PHN Issue 45, Winter 2021

The Search for the Right Treatments

Over the past year, many types of medications have been studied and tested as possible treatments for COVID-19. Currently there are some that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on an emergency basis and some that have been shown to be effective but are still being studied. It’s important to get health information from trusted sources and talk with a doctor about what is best for your health needs if you are seeking treatment for COVID-19.

Many people catch COVID-19 but do not require treatment because they do not have symptoms. Others may be able to recover on their own, with basic care like rest, drinking enough water, and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Other cases become more severe and require further treatment. Reports from Prison Health News readers and journalists have indicated that prisons are not offering the same treatments available on the outside. The information in this article is being shared to help our readers know what treatments should be available to them. When filing a grievance or lawsuit, it may be helpful to specifically list what medications have not been offered. The following are different treatment options available outside prison, based on the severity of symptoms.

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Staying Safe in Prison During COVID-19

By The Prison Health News Advisory Board

From PHN Issue 45, Winter 2021

Prison Health News asked our Advisory Board members for suggestions on how people in prison can advocate for their safety during the pandemic. We’re very grateful for these responses, which we edited for length and clarity.

Try and stick together, because there are a lot of people fighting for you. I’m for sure one of them.

The first thing I thought of was having people join the lawsuits being represented by the ACLU. People can write to their state representatives and the health department about health violations related to COVID-19 and lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for inmates. I also would recommend consulting with the healthcare workers in the prison, because they could be allies in fighting for more PPE and better health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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