The following are comments received by readers regarding COVID-19 coverage at HDSP.
You’re the only news outlet providing coverage
Thank you for your coverage of the COVID outbreak at the High Desert State Prison. I have a loved one who has been housed at HDSP for many months. On Nov. 18 I received a letter from him dated Nov. 12 stating that he tested positive for the virus. He was housed in Building 1 in a standard double-bunk cell. He, as have all the inmates, has worn the only mask he was given more, which was new more than eight weeks ago.
He is responsible for the purchase of his own antibacterial soap — currently out of stock at every company that supplies inmate packages to this facility.
These are the only two “safety” measures afforded to the prison population in this building. Double-bunk cells make it impossible to social distance, and to the contrary force two men to be no more than a few feet from each other at all times.
With the intake of COVID positive inmates on Nov. 5 (as previously stated by another family member) the institution was put on lockdown on Nov. 10, which is when my husband was tested. Results came back quickly supporting the efficacy of some protocol. Beginning around Nov. 8-9 my husband fell ill. He displayed all COVID symptoms with the exception of respiratory distress. His cellmate tested negative.
My husband was moved to Building 4, which was, as of Nov. 12, unheated. He was initially assigned to a double-bunk cell with another COVID positive inmate, which he had the presence of mind to refuse. When finally able to speak with a higher up he was moved to a single cell and threatened to be written up for “Refusing Housing,” which I understand is SOP.
I have received no further word from my husband since Nov. 12. I read today that there was one confirmed COVID related death on Nov. 17. I have called the prison several times in hopes of getting an update, but to no avail. It appears that there is currently just one extension set up to receive inquiries and the mailbox at that extension is full. I and all other family members who support our loved ones financially as well as in other ways are left with no means of obtaining an update about those whom we love.
This is an unbelievably trying time for everyone, and I can’t imagine the strain this and other facilities must be under. When we remember our front-line workers it is imperative we keep all prison staff in thought and prayer. Is there any way we can get in touch with the facility?
Are there established Family Support Centers or the like in place? If not, is there a projected timeline for when family members can expect some form of update? As a long-distance family member, is there anything that I can do to help in any way?
Thank you so much for your continuing coverage. I am based northwest of Boston, Massachusetts and yours is the only news outlet I can find that is providing such essential reporting. With warm regards and prayers of comfort for all.
Help us if you can
Hello. I am reaching out in hopes you can help. Our only hope is the news media. The total number of positive cases (at High Desert State Prison) is up to 686 now with one death. The virus started off in B Yard.
Correctional officers moved all infected men to D Yard, and then when D Block started getting sick, they started taking them to C Yard. All they’re doing is spreading the virus from yard to yard.
The same nurses who are treating the infected are the same ones going cell to cell checking temperatures. The water to wash the trays is below temperature, so it is not killing the virus. They where serving the infected on paper trays, but warden Kibler stated it was out of the budget to keep buying the paper trays, but yet the water temperature to disinfect the trays is less than 100 degrees.
The men have no cleaning supplies or disinfecting items to keep themselves safe. The nurses who are at the prison are sick as well but have to continue to work until they get a positive test. When they shower, they have no hot water or heat. The cells are ice cold. Please, if you can, help so that way the carelessness can stop.