In mid September we reported on a substantial uptick in COVID 19 cases at CSATF in Corcoran. On Friday October 23, there was another large wave of tests performed in the facility in response to a nurse having COVID 19 and many people sporadically showing symptoms. Out of nearly 1200 tests 396 have been returned positive, which means that 33% of people tested are known to be sick within the facility.
Despite the dangers people are still being sent to work in large numbers, even to their kitchen jobs. In addition to prisoners’ cases at least 7 free staff members who work in the kitchen have also tested positive. COs are trying to solve this problem by forcing people from other yards to work in the affected D yard kitchen. Some are protesting this as it puts more people at risk. The opposite is happening as well, people from affected yards are being sent to their kitchen duties. These are procedures which are likely to allow the virus to spread to the entire facility.
Furthermore, some prisoners have gone over a week without their test results. While they are screening officers when they come to work, officers who show symptoms are allowed to return to work after only 5 days. Equipment is being moved from yard to yard without sanitation. COs also travel from building to building being exposed to several people and creating greater potential for the virus to travel. It is also known that some of the disabled prisoners have had their breathing machines taken by guards citing it as a COVID 19 safety measure, even though it is perfectly possible to socially distance with a breathing machine. Another clear example of CDCr being negligent in taking the proper steps to accommodate people. So not only do these conditions increase the likelihood of the disease spreading, but leaves disabled and immunocompromised people at its mercy.
In addition to the health and safety risks, this also makes prisoners’ already meager daily conditions even more unlivable. Because of the shortage of healthy kitchen staff, people have been given cheese and cracker lunches for at least a week. Breakfast is two tiny silver dollar sized pancakes and a radish. Dinner tonight consisted of a chunk of mysterious meat and a boiled potato.
Of course we know that visiting has been stopped and programming severely limited, but here’s how one person on D yard lists the restrictions in the wake of the outbreak:
“No Access to Program Status Report (PSR)
No Access to IAC/MAC Reps.
No showers but every 72hrs. for five minutes, (If that)
No reasonable power to flush toilet faculties, but twice per 30min.,
No substantial cleaning agents to ward off the spread, or in cell cleaning,
No access to Clean Commune Showers,
None but one roll of toilet paper per prisoner per WK.,
No access to clean Bathing Towls/ Laundry Exchange,
No Hot meals, Or meals of Adequate portion,
No Telephone Access,
No Access to library materials/ Reading books, or Faculty,
No Recreation, or Physical exercise space,
No Access to purchases of canteen and Quarterly Packages,
No Access to ADA Services,”
Moreover, in classic fashion CDCr deploys the outbreak as further cause to blame and punish. Many prisoners are written up just for being near to one another, while COs often fail to wear their masks with impunity. A CDCr memo from F yard from October 28th blames prisoners for failing to take adequate safety measures and threatens further restrictions. All the while the institution fails to acknowledge that the COs and free staff are the only possible way for the virus to enter the facility or travel between yards. This outbreak is UNQUESTIONABLY the fault of CDCr
Family members on the outside deserve to know what is happening regarding the health and safety of their loved ones. People are angry about these conditions and beginning to take action. Four people in D yard have refused testing (see a thread on the many reasons why someone in these circumstances would make this choice) and are currently on hunger strike in protest of these ongoing abusive conditions. Friday will be their eighth day without food. Others have been refusing movements knowing that going to certain job assignments is likely to put them at increased risk. It’s time to stand with them and sound the alarm on what’s happening in CSATF, not letting it be hidden again.