Crystal, Sanford

Storyteller: Courtney Pieper

The first time Crystal, 45-year-old women, really heard anything about COVID-19 was back in February when the Diamond Princess cruise ship had thousands of passengers and crew members quarantined. From there, she claims that everything just escalated. As a correctional officer, who works as custody staff inside the St. Louis prison in Michigan, her day to day life changed drastically.

The work aspect part of her life made many changes to follow new guidelines and procedures put in place to keep everyone safe. First, the prison began limiting the number of prisoners out at a time, making activities take longer such as their “chow” lines, there are no visitations, no schooling, and attorney visits only. There is weekly COVID-19 testing being done on both inmates and officers, and daily testing done on those who were in close contact to anyone who was positive. Due to the COVID-19 they have lost around 77 inmates statewide, and it has resulted in massive amount of over time and officer shortages. Outside of work, Crystal states that shopping online has become her go to now, as she can no longer do late night shopping trips. She also expresses that doctors and counselling appointments have been harder to arrange and are done over the phone more often than in person.

Like many people, Crystal claims that along with 15 extra pounds, she gained piece of mind knowing that she could handle anything thrown her way and can handle on the fly changes to policies to deal with COVID-19. Along with the gains comes the loses, as she had to put in for lost time at work twice, resulting in her losing seniority, she’s missing precious work time, and is unable to do any late night shopping, as she works at nights, so night shopping is more ideal for her life style. When it comes to the pandemic, she explains that due to the constant testing for COVID-19 she always feels like she can smell ammonia from the swab testing, and the number one thing that she learned from this pandemic is that “people are sheep, and that people don’t know how to properly wash their hands.”

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