The questions that keep popping up on the spiral staircase of my mind are:
Are inmates, whether in jail or in prison, safer or more vulnerable during this COVID-19 pandemic? And how do they feel about our use of words that describe their inescapable reality? Particularly in the coronavirus scenario, whenever I see the words lockdown, isolation, or quarantine, I think about my incarcerated people.
On one hand, inmates are some of the most 'quarantined' populations on the planet. On the other, one sick deputy or visitor can infect an entire facility.
Are they extra safe because they're definitely more than six feet away from almost all outside vectors? Or, like in this simulation, will they pass around that one COVID-19 germ like enthusiastic children collect and trade childhood illnesses in preschool because of an asymptomatic, unaware, or careless interloper?
As many feelings as I have about being confined to my house through a statewide shelter-in-place initiative, nothing I experience will compare to the confines of a jail or prison cell. It doesn't even compare to program facilities without bars, where inmates are in direct contact with each other and with sworn staff, but who remain in the same room, save visits to medical or the courthouse, for days weeks months years on end.
I whiiiine to myself about canceled events and panic about toilet paper oh yes, but really--what am I missing? What true hardship am I facing? I'm fully engaged in life, I have the internet, and I'm trying to view this as an opportunity to reset, reflect, and be grateful even as I format Word files and stick them one by one in my company's document management system, an agonizingly mind-numbing activity.
This line of thinking applies only to me; I know plenty of people who are facing actual hardships and who don't have the privileges I have. I'm trying to get into and out of my own head when I start to go down the poor-me path as it relates to the pandemic.
"I'm on lockdown!" I sometimes cry! Do you cry the same? If so, try this.
Take a pillow and either a twin air mattress or a pile of blankets and go into your bathroom at home. Shut the door. Have someone come around three times a day to deliver a small tray of bland food to you containing all your favorite allergens like gluten and dairy. Don't come out until the pandemic is over. Oh wait--you may come out for one hour once per day so you can go to the porch or the back yard. Have someone watch your every move during that hour. Then get back in that bathroom!
This experiment is for us able-bodied, privileged individuals who can move freely about the country whenever we choose.