This is a report by Dennis Solo McKeithan, SCI Phoenix, Collegeville, PA, pertaining to the second surge of COVID-19 in the state prison system.
You know, I reported about the first surge and how frightening it was. Well, when we were given a little bit more leniency, uh, coming out three times a day, you know, being able to make more phone calls, have more exercise in the gym. But then suddenly a second surge came and, once again, we had locked back down 23 hours, 15 minutes a day. It was reported that 1700 staff people across the state, COVID.
Also was reported that 40 prisoners died and two staff. That’s reported: that could be much higher. Thing that everyone was concerned about is how? We live in a bubble. Every pod is a bubble of its own, and we had no cases on our pod and our bubble, it was clean. The only ones that go in and out of the bubbles is staff. So it was, so it was reported by an anonymous source amongst the staff that filed a complaint. It was reported that staff, that test and find out they positive don’t even have to report it because it’s not mandatory.
So they could come to work knowing that they can affect someone. It’s legal here. Well, the prisoners, my personal pod, the past five months, no one positive for Corona. It’s still to the day I haven’t seen anyone taken off of this pod. So the question is, if you’re tracing the origins of this and it leads somewhere bbut no one seems to know. As I said, because staff does not have to report like, “Hey, I’m asymptomatic.” Or in fact, a guard recently filed that complaint through the union, that he was forced to come back to work, even though he was ill. Reports were in the spotlight [inaudible] When talk about prevention, they consider taking your temperature “prevention.” As we know, your temperature could be just fine and you could still be asymptomatic or you could take a test and come up positive.
The fear and anxiety of being locked in 23 hours a day is starting to overwhelm a lot of people. And a lot of, especially a lot of younger people, that’s not used to any form of solitary. And as you look around, even myself, I find myself sometimes just drained, drained from doing nothing, you know, in a cell, you don’t- you reading or you’re looking at TV, but that doesn’t take the place of interacting with other human beings. You know, as far as- you know, like going down to gym, going down to the law library, you know, those things of those natures, you know? So when I read about people on the outside and the way that COVID has devastated them, it’s devastating us in here. But it’s behind the walls and it’s almost silent, you know, it’s almost silent. And it’s cause, you know, we have no- as I said, no contact with anyone except prison officials. And the thing is why are prison officials forced to take tests mandatorily, and once those tests are discovered to be positive, why isn’t it mandatory that that be exposed? You know, that that’d be put out there so somebody can say, “Hey, that’s the same person that I was around yesterday. Let me go get tested!” Not going on it. And here with the COVID that needs to be addressed.
Just ask that those that have family incarcerated, that they ask questions. You know, when the governor and the secretary, you know, speak about what they’re trying to do in here. The main thing is not the prisoners. The main thing is the people that come in and out. That’s the question: what are you doing about them? Not what are you doing about the prisoners. Locking us up 23 hours a day is not going to prevent anything if you got staff running in and out of here bringing COVID in and outta here. Thank you for your time.