Friday, April 17, 2020


Dateline: Friday, April 17, 2020, 11:39 a.m.

Two nurses decked out in personal protective gear are proceeding down the rows of bunks checking the temperatures of the 68 prisoners in my housing unit. So far, no one in this dorm has registered a high temperature or other symptoms of COVID-19, but that's not true elsewhere in Tomoka C. I.

Latest word is that now 10 men are in isolation after testing positive. Three prison employees, including the female kitchen manager, also tested positive. It appears that most of those infected inmates were kitchen workers.

Everyone is now locked down, confined to our housing units 24/7, no canteen, no rec, except for the dozen or so men who were drafted to work in the laundry, washing and re-washing clothing and linens now seven days a week. Cabin fever is setting in for some, but so far most everyone has stayed calm, realizing the authorities are doing the best they can, operating in uncharted territory. They've been handing out ''bag lunches'' with peanut butter sandwiches three times a day. Ugh! There is some squawking about that. Last night, they surprised us with an actual hot meal: mystery meat patty, sandwich bread, boiled pasta, lettuce, and a cookie. Better.

The TV is on, and there are a few men who stare at 1960's and '70's sitcoms most of the day, but that's not for me. The news is steady coronavirus, or the president droning on for hours about how beautiful the pandemic response is, as they juxtapose drone videos of coffins being stacked in mass graves in New York. Some of us are readers, and swap books, but the selection dwindles rapidly. I'm getting desperate--that romance novel my neighbor is reading is tempting. A few telephone home several times a day, while others, myself included, settle for less expensive emails sent via WiFi from our Jpay tablets, like this one.

Four men are playing a raucous game of Spades, which may devolve into Smackdown, yelling at each other, disturbing the TV watchers. Close quarters. Forget about social distancing--double bunks are spaced three feet apart.

Uh oh! An elderly inmate just fell out as the nurse was taking his temperature. If you must have a medical emergency, having it while being attended by two nurses is optimum. Now there are five nurses and a medical orderly with a gurney. One nurse must be senior--she took over the blood pressure equipment and is using a stethoscope. More guards showed up than medical personnel.

The old man is sitting up now. They're taking him to medical, I suppose, for observation. Cancel that--he refused treatment, said he was all right, will lie down on his bunk.

Everyone cleared out, except the two nurses conducting temp checks. Mine was 97.9 F.

I must hurry---they open the tablet charger in a few minutes, and this tablet is getting low.

You are in my prayers. Don't worry about me. I've survived worse. God bless you. Let everyone know.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Praying for you all. Sue (Ryan's Grandma)