Vulnerable Inmates Left in Prison as Covid Rages

A nurse told him that it “probably is the flu,” and that Mr. Heim had not been seen by a doctor or tested for coronovirus until December. 4. When Mr. Heim, who has chronic lung disease, was infected and kept in isolation, he told the staff that he could not breathe.

“They said there was nothing they could do for me,” he said in an announcement in court. “The first four days I was in isolation, thinking I was going to die.” He said he stayed there for 20 days, during which he was seen only three times by a doctor.

Isolation is important to prevent the spread of the infection, but almost a full year after the epidemic began, suitable isolation quarters for infected women in prison were not ready.

In December, when dozens of women tested positive, they were kept in a room for jail visits, in court, and in the makeshift quarters, according to accounts of seven female prisoners provided through court written declarations and phone interviews.

Rooms had no beds, only rudimentary toilet facilities and no showers. (Temporary shower units were eventually installed.) The women were hastily transported; Many people said that they do not have time to pack important items like medicine, asthma inhalers and feminine hygiene products. Many said they were without their prescriptions for days.

Upon arrival, the infected women were taken to the visiting room of the men’s prison, some of them visually ill, they were asked to collect metal planks to sleep on. According to many accounts, mattresses were not available before, and bedding was rare. The room was cold, especially at night.

“I was really cold, and they didn’t want to give us extra blankets,” said 53-year-old Stacey Spagnardi. He is serving a sentence for tax evasion and insurance fraud.

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