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We were put on lockdown on September 28. We had over 1,100 cases by January 2021, though cases had reduced a lot. 

The first two weeks of the lockdown were the worst. We could only go out to get our trays, but we had to eat in our cells. Each week, we got two showers, two phone call, and 40 minutes of kiosk time. Eventually, we were allowed 45 minutes outside, but only half of the unit at a time. Starting in November, the whole unit was allowed to go outside. They just restarted the law library, but you have to have an active case in order to use it. 

Here’s how we celebrated the holidays. On Thanksgiving, we each got one extra phone call to our family and a meal which consisted of turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, roll, and pumpkin cake with frosting. We played three categories of trivia: DOC Rules, sports, and general. The top five contestants each received a prize: two sodas, one bag of chips, and a candy bar for 1st place; two sodas and one bag of chips for 2nd place; a soda and a bag of chips for 3rd place; a soda for 4th place, and a bag of chips for 5th place. 

Right before Christmas, they started allowing Zoom video visits, with a cap at 30 minutes per month. Neither my dad nor my friend had a computer for it. 

Our Christmas meal consisted of turkey/ham, mashed potatoes, dressing, herb roll, and chocolate pie. For $5.25, we could aso order 8 ounces each of meat and cheese with crackers, as well as a chocolate chip cookie. We played another game of trivia with songs, movies and general as the categories. I won 1st prize in general trivia. 

During the lockdown, they also showed holiday movies, including “White Christmas,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Story,” “Home Alone”1 and 2, “A Christmas Carol,” “Last Christmas,” “The Lion King” (new), “Wonder Woman,” all of the “Star Wars” movies, and most of the Marvel movies (“Spiderman,” “Iron Man,” “Ant Man,” “Avengers,” “Black Panther” and “Doctor Strange”). 

Throughout this last lockdown, the only people that have been able to work are the ones who had already tested positive with COVID-19. I work on the snow shoveling unit. My boss asked me once how I was doing. He can’t call me in, but I don’t think he would have cared if I were shoveling snow.

On Jan. 17, everybody went back to work. Since then, games in the day room, haircuts and recreational pull-up bars have been available too.

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Richard Schmidlkofer

Richard Schmidlkofer is a writer incarcerated in Wisconsin.