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Despite being careful and practicing the necessary precautions, I still contracted COVID-19. I had to be placed inside the gym where the administration and medical staff set up bunk beds for about 100 inmates to be housed for isolation to treat and monitor our progress or decline. Our vitals were checked twice a day — once in the morning and once at night. Our areas were sprayed with decontaminating mist and we were fed boxed lunches, so we don’t cross-contaminate the others. I was in the gym for 11 days before I beat COVID-19. 

The next day, I was placed back in my building inside a cell by myself until I was able to be administered another COVID-19 test and show that I was now negative.

Just a few days after I had left, the gym was shut down for allegedly not complying with health standards. The leftover inmates were sent either back to their assigned yards or to a medical facility.

Since my release from the gym on Dec. 27, 2020, the infection rate of COVID-19 has decreased tremendously. As of March 4, 2021, there aren’t any infections or deaths among the inmates or staff, which is why inmates are now allowed to have dayroom and recreational yard access as well as one-on-one appointments with our assigned clinicians instead of makeshift cell-side visits called “welfare checks.”

Also, the medical staff has administered the vaccine to almost every inmate on C-yard — the yard I’m on. We are anxious and happy at the same time.

I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Mar. 4, 2021 and am awaiting my second dose, which I will receive 21 days after the first (Editor’s note: this story was written in between the writer’s two vaccinations). I felt light-headed and queasy after the shot, but other than that, I’m feeling all right.

We are still required to wear masks and sanitize, but I’m definitely fine with that if it means keeping me and everyone else safe.

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.