There’s no calendars, there’s no clocks, there’s literally nothing.
Everyone forgets what day it is. You ask the correctional officer what day it is or what time it is and they just give you an attitude.
Inside Division 16, Cook County Jail’s COVID-19 positive detainees say they’re waiting to die.
It’s difficult to count the days, but he knows she’s coming. His little girl. His first child. She’s due in the middle of May, but from Zachary Thomas’ position, he can’t tell if it’s March or April and the only way to measure the passing time is by the minutes to his next meal.
“The way I keep track of time in here is: they wake us up at four in the morning for breakfast, then we get lunch around 10:30 to 11, then we get dinner around 6:30 to 7.”
Inside Division 16, detainees sit roughly three feet apart from each other on their beds, which are secured to the ground. They play cards, chess, watch movies, share bathrooms and even share soap when necessary. They lean on each other’s beds, where they also eat meals, multiple men quarantined there told The Chicago Reporter in phone interviews.
The division is in a barracks that housed an old boot camp program at the jail and was recently set up to provide relief for Cermak Health Services, which has a limited number of beds for infected detainees. As of Monday, there were 171 detainees housed at Division 16, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s office.
Over the phone, you can hear how close they are to each other. You can follow their conversations. You hear them breathe. And you can sense the reverberations of their coughs.