The Coronavirus as seen through the eyes of our Insiders
Part V: The Caronavirus has become a joke
Jay 4/15 (OSCI, Salem, Oregon)
The Coronavirus pandemic has become a joke, and deliberate indifference is shown toward an outbreak among inmates here at Oregon State Correctional Institution.
– Social distancing measures did not go into effect until April 8 despite the Governor’s “Safer At Home” measure, and it still does not go far enough.
– Hand soap dispensers are empty beside posters taped to the wall that encourage the frequent washing of hands.
– Cloth masks were issued to unit food service workers on April 13, but since they are not required to wear them, they don’t.
– Nursing staff at HSU (health services unit) wear masks, but security officers there and on the unit do not; in fact, they joke about who is infected.
– My cellmate was put in segregation on Unit W (where inmates already tested positive) for 10 days, then returned to share a cell with me — he now has a dry cough and may have brought the infection in with him, putting myself and the entire unit at risk; inmates from other buildings were transferred to my unit suddenly as well, thwarting efforts to reduce cross-contamination between units by reducing access to recreation yards, school, libraries and other amenities to single units at a time.
– Some inmates on the other hand are REQUIRED to mix with inmates from other units, such as maintenance and food preparation workers. They are either not provided or not required to wear PPE (personal protective equipment), nor do the staff who supervise them; daily they go back and forth, possibly spreading contamination.
– Supposedly inmates displaying “flu-like” symptoms can see HSU without the $7.50 copay, though there are reports of inmates with coughs, congestion, even fever being sent back to their (shared) cells, without being tested, and still being charged what is more than a week’s wages for some, a sufficiently-effective deterrent to asking for medical help.
– Visitors and outside volunteers who run religious services and other programming have been banned for weeks, but staff come in and out daily, and it is unclear what kind of screening or testing they undergo.
– We see news reports not just of the alarming numbers around the nation and state but also what’s happening at other institutions, such as nursing homes and especially Riker’s Island and the Cook County Jail.
I would not doubt there are many other unsafe violations of good judgment and safety measures; this is only what I see on a firsthand daily basis. I was hesitant to send this because some inmates are complaining messages are being held back or disappearing when they are critical of DOC, and there is always the fear of retribution. I feel it is important to let the world know what’s happening inside the electric fences. We are without a voice; don’t let us be invisible and forgotten about. If truly “we are all in this together,” then please help me bring these situations to public awareness.