Covid at Thumb Correctional Facility
by Edmund Fields

 I was locked in a housing unit and deprived of fresh air from April 14, 2020 till May 23, 2020. The housing unit functioned like an incubator that encouraged the Covid-19 virus to run rampant and infect most of the people in the housing unit that I was locked in.

Due to the MDOC locking us all inside the unit with the Covid-19 virus and giving us absolutely no opportunity to step not one foot outside for fresh air, my cellmate became infected with the virus. Due to that close contact I was, on April 29, 2020, moved to another housing unit and placed in a single-man cell. With the exception of 30 minutes every other day to shower, use JPay, and the phone (all within that 30 minute period) I was placed on 24-hour lockdown - still not given an opportunity to step outside and fill my lungs with fresh air for 14 days. I was quarantined with other close contact and Covid-19 positive inmates - each in our own cell. I could not walk around the unit because the cell door stayed locked. The door could only be unlocked and opened by the officers. The only time they opened it was to give us food trays, let me out every other day for my 30 minute shower period, or for the nurse to come by and check on us every morning.

The nurses checked out heart rate, oxygen level and blood pressure. They put this clip like thing that was about the size of my index finger on my index finger. Considering the fact that they put that clip on everybody’s finger - sick and close contact - one after another, I asked if they could please sterilize it after each use. They replied that they didn't have to do all that.

In the cell I was provided with my television and tablet. Papers were not permitted. After about the 10th day of complaining that I need my legal brief due to the fact that I have an active appeal, they finally brought me a few of my papers. We could not order or possess any food nor hygiene items off of the prisoner store list.

The tiny tubes of toothpaste that they gave us were useless. The small deodorants only foamed up and burned my skin. Also, due to the fact that we couldn't possess moisturizing lotion or ChapStick etc., my lips produced big cracks and bled. At the time my hair was 14 inches long and due to the small soaps and ketchup packet sized shampoos washing my hair was impossible. The cells were dirty with inadequate ventilation because the windows were blanketed with dust, spider webs, and dirt. Most of the supposedly hot meals were served cold in violation of Safe Serve guidelines mandated to prevent growth of bacteria on food. Of course, we complained. Although I signed up for the Healthy Choice meals option - twice a day with choice of fruit. Many days I was not provided with any fruit at all, depriving me of my main and sometimes only source of nutrients. We were usually served breakfast around 5:30am. By 3pm-4:30 dinner was usually served. For the next 12-14 or so hours my body fed itself off of my stomach’s growls. Every other day I was permitted showers but the joy of finding cleanliness ended when I discovered many days that the water was nowhere near warm. 

On May 11, 2020 I was tested for the Covid-19 virus. According to the paperwork the test was developed by NxGen and administered by the National Guard.

On May 13, 2020 after 14 days of quarantine I was released from quarantine status and placed back into my original housing unit in general population and still not provided the opportunity to step outside and receive fresh air.

On May 18, 2020 the results of my Covid-19 virus test administered on May 11, 2020 were provided to the MDOC. The results were: Negative.

On May 23, 2020 I was finally permitted to go outside for an hour to take in breath of fresh air. On May 26, 2020 approximately a week after receiving my negative Covid-19 virus test results, the MDOC, against my will and without my consent, forced me to give up blood to the National Guard for an antibody test or be thrown into the hole for 14 days or placed into a housing unit with Covid-19 positive inmates.

To avoid being punished by being thrown into the hole or in a unit filled with Covid-19 positive inmates housing in two-man cells whereby I would be exposed to a Cellie infected with the virus, I gave up the blood. The test they gave that day, May 26, 2020, was a Covid-19 IgG Antibody test administered by the National Guard. It was for demographic purposes and I was just told today (July 21, 2020) that the University of Michigan had something to do with it. I was told that they only needed a small amount of blood to see if I had antibodies. However, they ended up taking one and a half vials of blood. The vials were approximately 4 inches long; maybe a little longer, and about a half inch in diameter. My antibody test results came back on May 27, 2020. Due to past infection status of the coronavirus, I tested positive for antibodies

If the MDOC wants to remove money from my account, I have to give them authorization by signing a disbursement of funds sheet. If they want to extract a rotten tooth from my mouth, I have to sign a medical consent form. Therefore, being told that I must  give my blood or face punishment sounds unconstitutional. This failure to obtain consent and/or informed consent, seems like a medical ethics violation. I would like to know if this was legal. If it wasn't, can you please help me? According to the case of Andrew John Walker v. George W. Sumner, 917 F.2d 382; 1990 U.S. App. Lexis 18366 (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, filed 1990; No. 88-15544) this was not legal. Along with myself there are a few other inmates who were also told this same thing. They also decided to give up their blood.