It’s been 2 — very long — months, since I’ve been able to really sit down and wrangle my thoughts into anything even remotely intelligible. Something that seems to have become a more & more common trend with the people I talk to. Especially here, where these guys are just blaming their declining focus and ability to concentrate on having the “Covid-Brain”. Now whether we’re really suffering from the side-effects of having had this virus or just figured out an excuse, for extreme neural-inactivity — that would gain sympathy rather than frustration — is still being debated. But, if I HAD to choose, then I would lean towards the former. I say that because even though my short-term memory had already become, embarassingly, short-term AND I’d already been struggling with focus & concentration-issues, there can be no question of the decline in all these areas…. post-Covid.
I started by writing that, because already my thoughts and focus are all over the place. Everytime I’ve tried to sit down and write anything, since November, I’ve had 100 topics run through my mind, 100 different ideas of things I wanted to say, but ulimately the results are always the same… those 100’s of thoughts/ ideas all begin to jumble together in a choatic dance, that just ends in confusion and frustration. I’m trying to fight that mental-confusion right now, by writing here… struggling against the chaos that’s dominated my ability to focus & concentrate, for more than a few minutes at a time. In my own effort to follow the old-adage of “use it or lose it”…. trying to force or manipulate my focus towards something and keep it there, even when the mental-chaos begins and tries to strip it all away.
So, besides my own struggles with “Covid-Brain” and the effects it’s had on my daily life in here, things are still drudging along very slowly. We’re coming up on our 11th month of basic lock-down in the Michigan Prison System. For those 10-11 months… ALL visits with our family and loved ones have been eliminated, ALL movement has come to a screeching halt, All recreational activities, schooling and programming has stopped. Currently at this prison, they have isolated the individual units so that none of them cross paths… yard time is split-up, work details have been split-up (having moved certain detailed workers all to the same units) and these “video-visits” we’ve been promised are on a TBD schedule of being implemented (at least at this prison). So, even though our last positive case — that we know of — was over 1 1/2 months ago they still have us restricted to our individual units BUT not officially on quarantine or outbreak status anymore. It makes no sense! But I am amazed at the level of civility that the prisoners have maintained here… even after being denied ALMOST all the normal freedoms and routines that were previously at the foundation of all prisoners’ daily lives. Just imagine being 1 of 240 people, all stuck in a household together with no relief or escape… all from different areas, with different backgrounds & beliefs and different temperments. Keeping in mind that none of these people were picked, as roommates, because of their (previous) decency, good-natured behavior or ability to play nice with others! So, to look at the fact that these men have maintained a peaceful & civil co-existence, in an environment that — at a1st glance — looks like it should breed the opposite, is an amazing feat in itself. Some may see it as, just what should be done or how “normal” people should act… let me tell you, that that has not always been the case inside these fences. But to maintain this level of lock-down, after EVERYONE has already been infected and recently recovered from the coronavirus makes zero sense to me. Some normalcy is necessary, if they ever want to bring some regularity back within the prisons. Just as some normalcy is NEEDED by the prisoners — if for nothing else, then to stimulate and encourage mental & emotional wellness… things that are in great demand within these fences, just as they are outside these fences right now!
There may be some hope in sight though?! They came through last week and gave out 100 doses of the vaccine, to elderly prisoners and those at very high-risk. I guess they’re following the same plan as they inacted in the streets, for distributing the vaccine…. deciding who’s eligible and when they’re eligible. Of course the prisons aren’t making the vaccines mandatory for the prisoners OR the staff, which makes transitioning back to “normal” a little unsure. See, a lot of both prisoners and staff have already voiced that they’re not taking the vaccine… which I can’t understand, cuz I’m jumping in line AS SOON as it’s offered to the rest of us. But, the Administration has seen this as a new tool they can use to restrict and control what the future of our normal will be. Outwardly they say that it’s a persons choice and everything will move forward after the majority of the vaccinations happen. Yet, they spread the word (off document)… that if ALL the prisoners fail to get vaccinated, then things WON’T be going back to the normal movement. Also that if prisoners AND their families/ friends don’t have proof of vaccination, then they won’t be allowed contact visits when(ever) they start back up! I mean, personally, I don’t understand not utilizing the vaccine… especially in here, where it runs uncontrolled. But, when the prison isn’t mandating the staff to get vaccinated it makes even less sense, since 100% of the Covid-cases were brought in by staff!
*The last # reported was 19,238 prisoners recovered from Covid and 3,122 in step-down and currently recovering… totalling 22,360 prisoners — of course that doesn’t factor in the hundreds or (more likely) thousands who’ve contracted the virus multiple times! Or excuse the 132(+) people who’ve died within the prisons, due to this virus*
These are the facts that have so many prisoners and their families upset. The prison Administration wants to pressure and punish the prison population, IF they choose to not participate in the vaccination process. But WON’T mandate it for the staff who’ve already infected OVER 22,000(+) prisoners and killed AT LEAST 132(+) prisoners, due to their reckless & selfish actions… allowing them to continue to come into work regardless of whether they vaccinate or not! This makes zero sense to me… prisons are NO different than any other “long-term living facility” and if just 1 staff member comes in positive for Covid, that staff member becomes a single-person super-spreader, who can (and have) infected entire prisons. As I said, this is what’s happened over and over (and over) again within all the prisons. When 2/3’s of the States’ prison population have already been infected with the coronavirus, it’s hard to argue against mandating vaccinations for ALL prison staff, too! It would seem like “common-sense” and the “smart” decision, IF they were really concerned about the health & welfare of any of us… prisoner and staff alike! Maybe I’m wrong or just naive… I guess those decisions are made by people smarter than me though?! I’ll just have to wait and see what happens and when our “normal” comes back… whatever it’ll look like this time.