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Of course, everyone is going through some type of issue dealing with COVID-19. A lot of my family members have caught it. I had a cellie who caught it, and I was forced to quarantine with him in the cell. 

They put us on a mandatory lockdown even though we’re already in prison, which took its toll on my mental health. 

The prison puts us under these protocols without providing us with adequate information and without any care as to how it is going to impact us.

For example, when my cellie got a positive COVID-19 test, they quarantined us together for 14 days, but they never tested me. I had to harass the medical staff to get a COVID-19 test. Finally, seven days into the quarantine, I got tested. My test was negative, but they continued to put me on mandatory quarantine with my cellie, putting me at risk. 

I can’t call anybody, my mail is taking forever to reach my family, if it gets there at all, and I’m dealing with anxiety stuck in a cell with a sick cellie. We also don’t get fresh air. Something as small as getting mail could make or break my day. 

My thoughts have been extremely down. Mental health checks should be included along with a medical checkup, but they are not.

Just like everybody in the world, I can’t wait for this pandemic to slow down.

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.

Hamza Rashad X is a writer incarcerated in California.