Visiting has been locked down for a couple of months now, and as they say, the natives are getting restless. I've said from the beginning of the CoVid 19 shutdown that the folks inside seem to be handling this enforced separation better than those of us outside. Indeed, many paroled lifers have posted amusing comments and memes on surviving lockdowns (check out some of the posts on Lifers Success Association Facebook page). Unfortunately most of those who've been inside for any length of time have had to endure their often unfair share of lockdowns, so this is something of a familiar situation, one they know how to handle.
For those of us out here, however, that isn't the case. Sure, if you've been around for awhile you probably remember the days when a violent incident at PBSP, HDSP or anywhere would cause immediate lockdown of the whole state, with no end in sight. When I first started visiting at HDSP the population was coming off a 2 year lockdown. Those were the not-so-good old days; long lockdowns don't really happen anymore, the the credit of CDCR.
But here we are, 2+ months and counting and the clamor for reopening of visiting is increasing. Recently someone on our FB page noted that 'only' 5 prisoners had died (as yet) from CoVid and in her mind, 5 out of 115,000 was good enough odds to restart visiting. Sorry, I can't agree. Hard as it is for us to accept, the cessation of visiting at the start of the outbreak was probably the single biggest reason the death rate is as low as it is.
No, visitors aren't intrinsically more contagious that anyone else,--but we've all been to visiting. Any day is petri dish day--lots of people, no distance, sharing tables, standing close in line, crammed into small buses getting to the yards, really close contact with our folks inside. It's a Cornoa virus paradise. And the ones who would suffer the most from this would be those we're aching to see, the ones we love but can't be close to often.
Who's gonna be that one, asymptomatic virus carrier who brings it into visiting--and how many will develop the virus and how many will die--no way of telling. As we're seeing as the testing numbers at CIM go up, so do the reported cases--some of them showing no symptoms, but still positive. You've just got to look at the national scene to see how this plays out. Not well.
Yes, it's hard. Yes, we want to see our family. Yes, there haven't been many deaths in CDCR--but---while that number held at 1 for a long time, its gone up by 4 more recently. This is not over. Nor is it a hoax. When you talk to the folks inside at CIM, when you talk to staff (and we do both), those closest to the situation know it's no hoax. As do the families of the 5 who have already died. So as much as we want to throw our arms around them and reassure them--throwing our arms around them is just what we shouldn't do right now.
That's why the issue of everyone wearing masks is so important and why we're worrying this issue like a dog with a bone. Will the numbers go up, will there be more deaths? Probably. Sadly. Tragically. Awfully. But if all we can do to help keep those we love safe is to suffer thorough lack of visiting--it is, indeed, the least we can do. And no matter how long the wait, I still believe, better a late visit than a late husband--or son--or daughter--sister.