Note: Jacob and a number of other prisoners at WSRU in WA DOC were escorted to quarantine (we believe on 1/10/21) after testing inconclusive or positive for covid-19. We will not be able to hear from him until he has tested negative twice, and is out of quarantine. Preparing for quarantine is a misnomer. Nobody is prepared, including prison officials.
January 8, 2021
According to the WSRU grapevine, my unit (D) is being tested again today. But the spooky tension that permeates the unit is when staff come to inform guys that they tested positive or inconclusive and are going to quarantine. One guy likened the moment to his sentencing hearing, and another openly admitted on the tier, “I’m scared as hell. I ain’t gonna lie.” Even for those who don’t admit they’re scared, they’re deeply concerned about how COVID-19 will affect them.
Since December 1, 2020, over 4,000 incarcerated individuals have tested positive for COVID-19, and the numbers continue to rise. The last headcount for C-Unit (across from D-Unit) was 59, which is nearly a quarter of its 193-man capacity. Positive and inconclusive tests are turning C-Unit into a ghost town! Proportionally, D-Unit has fared much better with fewer cases.
And believe me, most guys have realized that quarantine is essentially purgatory because until the whole unit produces two negative tests, another two-week round of quarantine will be imposed — indefinitely. They recently opened up the gym to house positives and inconclusives. And last anyone heard, no makeshift showers are set up.
The situation is unnerving all the way around for guys, especially because there’s no Wi-Fi access or phones in the gym. The one positive (no pun intended) is we’re allowed to pack one paper bag of our belongings (e.g., our Jpay media tablet, food, hygiene products, socks, phone book, Education-issued laptops, etc.) to take with us.
So, in anticipation of going to quarantine, guys are taking preparatory steps to make their quarantine stay as comfy as possible.
For example, I downloaded various movies to my Jpay media tablet (while I have Wi-Fi!), I created a list of everything I plan to take with me and have it all ready to be packed in a paper bag. And in the event that I’m taken to quarantine, I pre-wrote the following message and saved it as an email draft. I’ll send it before I’m taken.
Note, if you receive the following w/o any preamble, it won’t be a drill. I WILL be heading to quarantine…
IMPORTANT: Quarantine and Communication
Family and friends,
I’m sending you this message because I’m about to be escorted to the quarantine unit after testing inconclusive and positive for COVID-19. Since phones and Wi-Fi (meaning, no emails) aren’t available in the quarantine unit, you won’t hear from me for a few weeks or longer. But I still have envelopes!
Keep me and the guys with me in your prayers.