This testimony was a declaration from the May 7, 2020 filing of a new class action lawsuit over jail conditions related to COVID-19 on behalf of prisoners at Santa Rita Jail against the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.
I am currently an inmate in Santa Rita Jail, the County Jail for Alameda County. I had been housed in Unit 7E. On April 15, 2020, I started having a headache and sharp pains in my chest, but no temperature. When I reported it, they moved me from 7E to 8A. 8A is where they hold inmates while they test them for the corona virus. I learned the next day that the cell they placed me in, in Housing Unit Eight-A had just held an inmate who had tested positive for the corona virus. The cell had not been cleaned, and there was no smell of bleach. It’s not clear where I contracted the virus, but it could very well have been that I contracted the corona virus from the infected cell they placed me in, in Housing Unit 8A.
A few days later, the jail moved me to 8C, and I knew that I had tested positive for the corona virus, because 8C is where they hold all the guys who are positive, and every staff person comes in covered, head to toe, in a hazmat suit.
I have had terrible headaches, body aches. I have a fever. I have a pain in my chest whenever I take a breath. I am usually an energetic person, but now I have no energy and spend all of my day laying down. The staff here has given me nothing for how I feel. The only thing they tell me is to drink water, and the only water I have is tap water out of the dirty sink in my cell. My cell is dirty, but I have no energy to clean, and I have no cleaning supplies even if I had the energy to clean. My cell is very cold, and I only have the one thin blanket that is standard issue. I have asked the deputies and the nurse to provide an extra blanket because I am cold, but the deputies say they don’t have extra blankets.
I have pressed the emergency button while I have been here, and tried to tell the technician that it was very hard to breathe. And after telling the technician I am having difficulty breathing, no one came with any medication or help for the difficulty I am having with my breathing.
On Tuesday morning, April 21, 2020, I saw the doctor between 6 or 7 a.m. for just a few minutes. I asked her for something for my body pains and headaches. I asked her what I can do to help my breathing, and she said to use the asthma inhaler they have given me. She told me if I feel worse, to push the emergency button. I tried to tell her that the inhaler does not help, and she walked off. As of 3 p.m., I had not received anything for my body pains and headache, not even Tylenol or ibuprofen for my body pains. I have pressed the emergency button while I have been here, and tried to tell the technician that it was very hard to breathe. And after telling the technician I am having difficulty breathing, no one came with any medication or help for the difficulty I am having with my breathing.
I have been let out of my cell once every two days, for an hour. That is the only time I have access to a phone. It is also the only time I have for a shower, so there’s not enough time to shower. I have asked for a washcloth so I can at least wipe myself off in my cell, and the jail has refused. I have had to tear up a tee shirt to use as a wash cloth. I have received no hand sanitizers. I have gotten no soap. The only medical treatment I receive is twice a day they tell me to get on my knees and stick my forehead in the slot in my door that they shove the food trays through. The person in a white hazmat suit then takes my temperature. I then stick my finger through the slot and I guess, they measure my oxygen level. That’s it. The jail provides nothing for my frequent headaches and body aches. The jail is providing no medicine or help for the difficulty I have breathing. I get nothing for running a temperature.