Peter’s* cellmate was the first inmate to get Coronavirus in his unit. He says since then, 8 or 9 people have come out of his unit with COVID-19 (most from his pod, maybe two cases from the pod next door). Peter started exhibiting symptoms on March 28th or 29th – it started with just sniffles. However, by March 30th, he was starting to get a fever, chills, and body aches. He started losing his sense of smell and taste, which would continue for two weeks. He says once he lost his sense of smell, he could only smell one particular distinctive smell that seemed to block everything else out. He finally went to OPHU, where they put him in an isolation cell with a gurney set up on the floor.
Peter was tested for COVID-19 on April 5 by taking a swab inside his nose, but the test came back negative. He was confused by this, as he had all the same symptoms that other guys in his unit had, who had all tested positive. But, they didn’t give Peter another test to double check. He stayed in OPHU for 5 days, and they then sent him back to his pod on April 9th. He said that while in OPHU, they didn’t do much for him aside from check his fever constantly. However, his fever had mostly died down by the time he was in there.
As far as sanitation and prevention goes, Peter says the jail started handing out wipes and soap around March 24th. For a while, they were giving out wipes every day and soap twice a week, but inmates haven’t hand wipes in about a week, and the last soap they got was three days ago. Staff didn’t start checking the temperatures of inmates until Peter’s cellmate got sick, but now staff members check their temperatures 2 or 3 times a day. Peter says that the only people in his pod who are getting tested are either folks who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or if, for example, someone’s cellmate tested positive for it (they have to come in very close contact with it).
He was starting to get a fever, chills, and body aches. He started losing his sense of smell and taste, which would continue for two weeks….He finally went to OPHU, where they put him in an isolation cell with a gurney set up on the floor. Peter was tested for COVID-19 on April 5 by taking a swab inside his nose, but the test came back negative. He was confused by this, as he had all the same symptoms that other guys in his unit had, who had all tested positive. But, they didn’t give Peter another test to double check.
Since the pod still does split tier pod and meal time, Peter expressed concern that far more people in his pod have COVID-19 than they may know – he thinks everyone should have been tested immediately after his cellmate initially tested positive. He says that 2 or 3 more inmates in his pod just left to go get tested today since they all just started to show symptoms. Deputies have even told Peter that they themselves want to be tested, but haven’t been able to.
Staff has lately been changing inmates’ linens and clothing every few days and handing out cleaning supplies every day. The cleaning supplies consist of a broom, a dustpan, a toilet scrubber, towels, and some cleaning solution. He said they haven’t been getting a mop – they have to use towels on the floor. The cleaning solution smells and appears to be watered down. However, he says the cells were professionally cleaned once 2 or 3 days ago and another time 3 or 4 days before that. While the pod was getting cleaned, inmates were able to use a large trailer parked outside that had about 18 showers in it, so they had the chance to shower while their pod was cleaned. Staff also came to take inmates’ property and set the property somewhere outside to “decontaminate.” Staff are wearing masks, and Peter just got a new mask, but the last time they handed out masks before that was 2 weeks ago. He hasn’t had a cellmate since March 30th. He says of all the inmates that he knows of that went to OPHU for COVID-19 symptoms, he is the only one that has returned to the pod. His attorney’s recent motion for release was denied.
*Name has been changed.