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A coronavirus pandemic while incarcerated has been mentally difficult because I have nothing to do but think and worry about when this will be over. When will the prison program and activities go back to the way they were? Most of the inmates I’ve talked to feel that the administration will try to trick us. They might want to keep things as is and may give us only certain privileges back.

I’m only getting stronger by being forced to deal head on with my mental thoughts. In the past these thoughts would cause me problems or get me into physical altercations with officers and inmates. Yes, there are more, hard days ahead, but I’ll be able to handle it.

My mom worries about me catching COVID-19 because she feels that the staff here won’t get me help at an outside hospital if I need ventilators and the proper medicine to keep me alive. Honestly, I think the same. The staff at this prison would have to cut through the official red tape to get us to an outside hospital. The medical staff are only prepared to quarantine us, if we are showing symptoms or have a mental or suicidal episode.

It’s ultimately up to us, the inmates, to stay safe. We need to be sanitary by washing our hands and body, disinfecting our living spaces, washing clothes, and wearing masks daily. Of course, we must be social distancing. A person in prison can’t be too careful.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Global Forum Online has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Shariff Taylor is an African-American transgender writer who is incarcerated in California. Shariff is from Newark, N.J., and is an activist for LGBTQ rights in and out of prison. They identify as gender-fluid. Shariff has been published in the American Prison Writing Archive, a partner of the Global Forum Online.