So, absolutely everything you hear about right now is related to the CORONAVIRUS or COVID-19. But when you’re in prison, where “social distancing” is already a forced practice… you kinda lose touch, especially when it comes to realizing the seriousness and the impact of whats occurring in the world outside these fences. And a lot of guys look at this like its all just being blown way outta proportion… a lot of extra-actions, that are just fueling the fears of the public. Either that or someone somewhere knows something that the rest of us don’t know?! Which is an even scarier idea to think about! But conspiracy theory aside… this shits looking more and more for real! And whether you believe the fact or fiction surrounding the coronavirus… one thing for sure is that it’s here and it looks to be spreading.
I swear, all this seems like the 1st 20 or 30 minutes of the movie “Contagion”, where you see some new virus come from Asia (coincidentally) and spread outta control… ultimately touching the majority of the global population. All this happens while Governments frantically work toward locating the source, so they can create a vaccine to fight it. Now look, that was a good movie, but it’s a very scary reality to see play out in real-time! And who really wants to believe that something like that could happen and not just be a scare-tactic that was made into a screen play?! But, where else would you see an entire country shut-down and go into a LOCKDOWN status? Up until a few days ago, that type of truth was left for screenwriters and movie studios… now all you have to do is watch ANY news station (actually ANY channel right now) to see that and find out the impact that’s taking effect across the board!
As I said, being in prison, we’re a bit outta touch with whats really going on in the streets. Some of this stuff doesn’t seem real, ‘cuz it doesn’t directly affect us in here… we don’t see the empty businesses, the shelves wiped clean at the stores or how people are holding up in their homes until the smoke settles on this global pandemic! So, I watch a lot of the news (CNN and FOX news, to get the best of both versions) to kinda keep up on whats happening out there and how this is progressing. And between the high praise for our President, for his bold actions in trying to prevent further wide-spread of the virus (domestically)… the repeated slamming of that same President, for his failures in getting ahead of the virus (domestically)… how the Presidential candidates can utilize the virus and its spread, to better their #’s in the poll (all depending on which news provider you choose?!). You do eventually get some information that’s actually about the virus, the rate it’s spreading and what we should do to prevent putting ourselves at risk. So what we see is a lot of good “tips” to avoid contracting and/or spreading the virus… the same as for all colds and flu. The most simple being: stay home; avoid big groups of people and; practice good hygiene (wash your hands). These are all very good tips and generally easy to manage. The one difference from being in prison and out of prison, especially in a time like this… washing our hands is really the only 1 of those 3 tips we can follow. We live in VERY close quarters, with around 800 to 1,000 people at any time (on average, from prison-to-prison). It’s like living inside a self-contained petri-dish, that nurtures, grows and spreads ANY infectious bug that hits the grounds here. Realistically, every flu or cold that’s ever hit the State around us… ALWAYS finds its way in the prison and once it does, it spreads like wildfire! Shit there was just a flu, in here, that had me laid out for about 2 weeks… along with about 1/2 the population. This was before any threats of the coronavirus were even considered, so I’m definitely not anxious to see it hit here.
The thing is, there were only 2 confirmed cases, as of the other day. (in Michigan) But, I’m confident that all the prisons in Michigan will be on a quarantined lockdown within the next week. As a preventive measure, for the potential of a massive outbreak, inside these fences, as I had just talked about. I mean, Ohio prisons were put on some form of lockdown, just recently (I believe), which is a very close neighbor. I don’t look forward to it, but what can you do? Honestly, if the virus was gonna get introduced into the prisons, the greatest chance of that is from staff… so the “lockdown” won’t really prevent anything! All that aside, all I’m really concerned with is the level of testing and treatment we’ll be able to receive in here? I’m not sure if the public really understands this or not, but our “healthcare provider” is… barely healthcare and barely a provider! That’s not even an exaggeration, ‘cuz I literally was told once that “if I wasn’t bleeding out or full of cancer”, that I wouldn’t have anything coming. This was a direct statement from a nurse, in reference to the medical providers’ orders on what to treat and what to “spin-off” or ignore. What kinda chance you think we got, if this pandemic makes its way inside these fences?!
Well, almost like watching a news channel, we just got a –BREAKING NEWS ALERT– when I went and checked my JPay messages! It would appear that the Governor and the Director of prisons were just thinking about these things themselves, ‘cuz we received the following messages:
As you are aware, state and national authorities have identified Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) as an ongoing threat to the public and have warned that it will spread in many communities throughout the country. Governor Whitmer has declared a state of emergency and activated the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC). These actions occurred after the first two positive cases were discovered in Michigan. There are now 12 cases statewide. None of these cases have a known connection to the MDOC.
The Department of Corrections has implemented its initial COVID-19 response plan and is continuing to work in conjunction with the SEOC on future planning to combat this illness. The focus of this plan is to keep everyone within our facilities safe, but this will cause disruptions to normal activities. The most immediate impact will be a suspension of visits at select MDOC facilities with high risk populations until further notice. It is important that accurate information is shared during this response, so this will be the first of many updates to all offenders within the MDOC.
There have been no identified cases of Coronavirus in MDOC facilities.
Each of your units will soon have posters describing the common symptoms and risk factors for this illness.
Common symptoms include:
Fever, Cough, Shortness of Breath
If you suspect you or anyone else in your unit has these symptoms, contact healthcare immediately for evaluation.
Enhanced Screening for Visitors, Volunteers, Staff, and Contractors
All staff and certain volunteers allowed to enter will be subject to enhanced screening prior to entering your facility. This includes answering questions about potential Coronavirus exposure and will include having their temperatures taken. Anyone suspected of having symptoms will not be allowed in the facility.
As of today, all visits will be indefinitely suspended. Please ensure your family knows of this decision so they do not travel to the prison unnecessarily.
The MDOC will continue to process paroles and release prisoners as scheduled. At this time the parole board is also continuing normal interviews.
The MDOC will be providing updates as this situation continues. We believe it is important that you receive accurate information and share that information with family and others, because misinformation and rumors will only slow the efforts of public health and corrections officials to combat Coronavirus.
and then, 2nd MESSAGE RECEIVED:
UPDATES CONCERNING STATE FACILITIES AND THE CORONAVIRUS:
Director H. Washington has announced all outside volunteers, visitors, tours and other groups are restricted from entering the State Prisons. A timeframe has not been given.
Governor Whitmer has closed all K-12 schools statewide through the first week of April to be proactive with the spread of the virus.
-All staff are being screened before entering the facility.
-Currently the State has 11 or 12 facilities under quarantine for the flu.
-Programs (ASAT, VPP, MiDVP) and Religious services will continue; Meetings (Wardens Forum, Block Rep) will not.
-HealthCare to suspend the $5.00 copay for anyone that have flu-like symptoms. If you are sick do not hesitate to kite HealthCare for any available treatment.
Flu shots are available for those who have not received one. Send a kite request to HealthCare.
-ARF is NOT currently under quarantine but Lansing has given permission to use bleach for cleaning.
-Unit porters should be cleaning all surfaces hourly – cleaning consists of, spraying disinfectant on the object, allowing the disinfectant to dry before wiping off.
-Food Service will probably slow down due to Warden Campbells instructions of cleaning thoroughly after each unit is done.
So, I guess this is becoming a very real situation here in Michigan! Actually, the last # I saw was 33 positve cases or (presumptively positive cases), so it’s officially here in Michigan and now touching (us here) close to home. And I’ll tell you one thing for sure… these guys in prison are WAY worse than any people in the streets who feed into any and every fear-based fears, that they create for themselves! I wouldn’t care what “facts” they receive… they’re quickly turned into some dramatic and outrageous “fictions”, that they try and spread amongst each other as a truth they heard from some reliable source.
All I do know, is that I’m hopeful things will be good in here… ‘cuz it’s hard to maintain 6′ of distance, in a cell that’s just about 6’ wide! But, I’ll just have to wait and see, ‘cuz shit the regular flu-season’s been kickin’ everyones ass in here already… I do not look forward to anything worsening beyond that!
Be safe and wash your hands!!