Update: Here’s what’s happening

preparing for quarantine

Written by Melissa Schmitt

January 29, 2021

An update from our friend in WSRU in WA DOC – read his post Preparing for Quarantine that he wrote just before being moved. Today he was moved back to general population.


I’m doing great physically. I developed a sore throat (which became a slight cough) and rolling chills for a couple days. Otherwise, I didn’t have any breathing issues, didn’t lose my sense of smell or taste, no headaches, cramps, or other issues.

The section of the IMU I was housed for 7 days was actually comfy. It was spacious, had a 21″ flat screen with cable and a remote, the best mattress I’ve slept on in prison, and I got showers, clothes (t-shirt, boxers, socks, towel, and rag) and phones every other day.

But IMU living wasn’t so good for other guys elsewhere in the hole. One guy said he didn’t get a shower for 5 days. An elderly man tested positive, fell and hit his head and died in IMU. Another didn’t get medical treatment to change his colostomy bag for 6 hours and developed extreme stomach pains. The bag was used after he caught COVID-19. They didn’t get clean bedding or hepastat cleaner. They didn’t have TVs or electric outlets.

Five other guys were were lost after being housed in 3 Seg with probation violators. They reported black mold, freezing cold showers, being given 2 ounces of disinfectant (in a Dixie cup) to clean their cells for two weeks. One guy filed a medical emergency grievance for complications with COPD and asthma (needing inhalers) and staff returned it to him saying it didn’t constitute an emergency. A memo said the water was unsafe. So, they were given 1.05 pints of bottled water every 8 or more hours.

Two of the guys in 3 Seg tested positive, weren’t tracked, and were mistakenly transferred to A/B units and infected guys there.

Yeah, I’m in the gym with about 100+ guys living on cots. There’s some chairs and tables. It’s loud throughout the day, hard to sleep, and a pain to use one of two phones, which can take as long as 1.5 hours.

We don’t have WiFi, but I’m able to send and receive messages because there’s a section of the gym that has one bar of reception. We don’t have enough clothes so we’re hand washing our clothing and linen. Since we all tested positive, virtually everyone is NOT wearing a mask.

We have these portable Royal Restrooms (w/ nonpotable water) outside for showers and bathroom. They’re decent but some are tight on space. Some have half showers. We can watch one of about 20 DVD movies (on 3 TVs) and regular Cable TV (on 2 TVs).

One morbidly obese guy doesn’t have any extra clothing. He sleeps on the floor because the cot doesn’t support his weight. And numerous guys are being kept in the gym beyond the 20 days claimed by prison staff and prison medical staff. One guy was quarantined for 23 days.

These living conditions are cruel and inhumane. Many IMU and 3 Seg staff are apathetic to guys and ignore them, feed them lies and don’t follow through, and treat them like they’re being sanctioned for disciplinary reasons. This is in direct conflict with DOC’s memo that we’re not supposed to be treated like those for disciplinary reasons. But I say that they shouldn’t be treated that way anyway.

After being diligent in my mask wearing, hand washing, and other precautionary measures, I still caught COVID-19. I sent the WSRU superintendent a letter identifying 5 breaches in protection against COVID-19 and provided solutions to remedying them.

1. The showers are where guys de-mask and talk from stall to stall, infecting one another. A shower schedule is needed that limits showers to one person at a time.
2. The unit vents blow air further than 6 ft. and there are no barriers, especially because guys are not regularly monitored or told to put their masks on.
3. The open cell bars need plastic on them to prevent cell-to-cell spreading when guys stand at their cell bars and yell to other guys in other cells. Their airborne saliva transfers to neighboring cells of unmasked guys.
4. The TTY and Jpay video visit kiosks are where guys pull their masks off to talk while other guys stand in the area.
5. Porters are instructed to deliver ice and other things to unmasked guys locked in their cells, risking cross contamination.

WSRU and IMU administration, medical, and other staff have mismanaged the pandemic with flagrant negligence.

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