This story below about two Custody Assistants who recovered from COVID-19 is an eye-opening excerpt from an Associated Press article (4/27/20) entitled “After COVID-19 Recovery, First Responders Get Back to Work”
LOS ANGELES — In jail-speak, it’s called “the line.”
For correction officers, it means any duty that requires working directly with inmates. Custody Assistant Sonia Munoz’s line is a 184-bed inmate hospital ward at the Twin Towers jail, with its beige walls and powder blue doors. It’s where she most likely contracted the coronavirus. And passed it along to her younger sister and her father.
Right now, Munoz, 38, is safe. She’s 10 pounds lighter, her thick uniform belt is tightened to the last notch, but she’s been transferred to an office gig, where she can line up three bottles of hand sanitizer on her desk and work alone.
Still, the line is there.
Any overtime shift could bring Munoz back. Her mother, 3-year-old nephew and 94-year-old grandmother escaped illness last time, but they may not be so lucky again.
It’s something her 27-year-old partner, Christopher Lumpkin, worries about.
On March 18, he became the first member of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, which oversees the nation’s largest jail system, to test positive for COVID-19. He likely passed it to Munoz and three other custody assistants. More than 60 sheriff’s personnel county-wide and at least 28 inmates have tested positive for the virus.
Using Facebook Messenger, Lumpkin and Munoz traded stories and symptoms, bedridden in their quarantined homes as the virus spread outside.
“I will pray for you guys as well,” Lumpkin wrote.
Now, Lumpkin is recovered and back on the line. He changes his gloves and sanitizes his hands each time he works with an inmate and keeps an extra mask hanging off his duty belt.
Munoz takes similar precautions in her office, separate from the inmates.
But she can’t avoid the line forever.
“I have to go back to the lion’s mouth.”
Original AP article, video and additional photos are here: https://apnews.com/ab5ceac4542026be8792fb6561f8f38e