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  • Rahul Athavale

Covid-19 in Custody

I think a good place to start is to share about what it was like to get Covid-19 in custody. The jail system tells the public that they offer free health care to inmates. I wouldn't call what they offer care of any kind. The medical system and care of inmates is laughable at best and criminal at worst.

I know a lot of my friends asked me what jail was like. That's a loaded question. How do you explain what hell is like?

I can tell you this, I was surprised to find that all but one or two of the Sheriffs officers where respectful and kind. I was incredibly grateful that the police in jail treated us with dignity and respect. I know it doesn't look good to say that the police were kind but this is my blog and my experience.

The medical staff on the other hand was atrocious they had an attitude that said you are here in jail and therefore you not only deserve no medical care but you deserve to die in here.

On February 15th early in the Covid-19 Pandemic the entire dorm was sick all 72 of us. We all had dry coughs, we were vomiting with severe sore throats and high fevers. The medical staff gave us Tylenol and cough syrup. I started asking for help on February 15th, by February 22nd I had lost 31 lbs, I was so weak I couldn't walk and I went again to see the nurse. By the time I saw her I was coughing up dark green mucous and blood. I had a fever of 105 and my blood pressure was 70/30. I knew I was going to die.

The nurse told me "we can't help you go back inside." That is there way of saying your close to death hurry up and kick the can.

I was wheeled back into the dorm on a wheelchair to weak to walk, and called a good friend and former federal prosecutor. As a rule attorneys have immediate access to the jail at any time. Peter stopped what he was doing and drove down to Elmwood from San Francisco and hour drive. When he arrived he was horrified at what he saw and the condition I was in. He said something I will never forget "Rahul, I promise you I will have you in an ambulance in 10 minutes" I don't know how he did it, he's a humble guy who doesn't flaunt his connections. I don't really care how he did it, but in 10 minutes I was in an ambulance lights blaring on the way to the hospital.

As I watched the gates of the jail close, I knew I was finally safe and my body finally let go. I slipped into a coma that would last more than 12 hours. When I did return the hospital had started a blood transfusion. I learned I had pneumonia in 90% of my lungs, my body was in septic shock with no hemoglobin left and my white blood cells almost at zero. The doctor said " I thought you were done, in fact sir we don't really understand how you survived, with the amount of fluid in your lungs no one should have survived this."



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