Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Original submission from author.

Hello, My name is Happy StompingBear and I’m in prison at Ouachita River Corrections Unit in Arkansas. We recently contracted COVID-19. It swept through our unit. 

It swept through our unit even though they were taking precautions, and we were on quarantine status. There were many flaws in how they handled the situation. For example, at chow everyone who got water or tea had to push a button, the same button as everyone else, and then sit down and eat a sandwich, contaminated. 

Guards were not wearing their masks, mainly the ones with rank, because who’s going to tell them anything. They shut down everything, no library, no yard, no church, but we were forced to touch the same button or go without drink with our meal. 

It doesn’t matter if I took all these precautions because others didn’t, and if one person gets it we all get it. We sleep less than six feet apart. The stuff is airborne, and in a place like this, in these open barracks style housing units, there’s no running from it, no hiding. If one person gets it we all get it.

My neighbor died, Hoffman. I called him Mr. Google because if we were having a debate or just was curious about something, he’d know. “Hey Mr. Google, what’s the difference between an asteroid and comet and a meteorite?” Many other people died here, and more will be dying soon. Though for a lot of us, we barely noticed it.

Anyone with previous medical conditions are in trouble. Those are the people who are affected, and it seems to attack your weak points. Bad knees will be worse, arthritis really flares up, whatever your weakness is it will attack, lungs, liver… For others it goes like this: headache maybe with fever, some will then feel blah, maybe queasy to the stomach, headaches come and go for a day, then it goes to the sinuses, you feel stuffed up, some lose their taste and smell, more headaches, maybe you feel achy all over too. The loss of taste and smell may linger for days, frontal headaches.

I was lucky. I only had the headaches off and on for a week, and the stuffiness. But a lot of people lost their taste and smell for about five days. For most of us it wasn’t much of anything, but for some it was more than they could handle. In this environment we can’t run or hide from the COVID-19, we can only hope and pray that they’ll pull through.

Happy StompingBear #651503
PO Box 1630
Malvern AR 72104

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

Happy Mystik Rainbow StompingBear is a Native American transgender writer incarcerated in Arkansas.