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A month ago I tested positive for COVID-19 and was scared. I kept seeing bodies on the news. I prayed so hard my knees turned red. 

Outsiders have no clue about what has gone on in this prison. I was moved to a unit which was not air conditioned. The good thing was that we had Wi-Fi  to email our family and let them know about the unit change. The California Institution for Women (CIW) didn’t have a web page at the time, so our families posted a lot of stuff on social media. The California Department of Corrections got wind of it, and we were moved to another unit with no Wi-Fi. We hadn’t taken a shower in four days. Our food was thrown all over the tray. No water, only ice twice a day. It was horrible. 

Protesters came to the prison and shouted, “Feed them! Let them shower! Give them water!” 

My advice is please wash your hands and wear your mask. If you don’t it could cost you your life. Two weeks ago my friend Madonna died from COVID-19. She just beat breast cancer and died in the hospital. This pandemic has been an eye opener for me. 

Always, safety first.

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.

Shanay Strawder is a writer incarcerated in California.