My entire adult life has been built around structure. I’ve always had a schedule. I don’t anymore.
My “new normal” consists of going outside to take out the trash these days and making a run for it if one of my neighbors happens to be doing the same thing at the same time or meeting clients and staying in my suv. It’s odd to not walk into a venue or a unit. It’s odd to change so much so quickly.
Social distancing has affected anyone who takes this virus seriously. For others who don’t, they eventually do when their job shuts down or their city is locked down by a safety in place order.
Due to the number of requests for drive by ceremonies, I’ve updated my site pages… Texas Twins Events I cannot and will not “just sign a license.” I will conduct a ceremony regardless of how brief PRIOR to signing your license.
Changes to how, where and when people are now getting married by car are shocking but occurring with regularity during this virus window.
Suddenly being stuck at home and unprepared for the possibility has caught a number of folks with their pants down. People who didn’t know how to cook are learning. People with limited food at home are “winging it” with wild recipes of items they have on hand.
I miss seeing my grandson the past 2 weeks. I miss my clients, my structure, my predictability and my family. I miss the way things “used to be.” But, this is temporary. Self quarantine protects all of us. It’s inconvenient but it’s essential.
My twin sister summed up this unexpected virus to me while I was sadly calling 9 clients last week to advise them that their event had been cancelled.
These clients had been scheduled at 4 TDCJ Units, 2 FBOP facilities 1 ICE Detention Center and 1 county jail and were excitedly looking forward to a wedding they had waited months to have.
Cindy summed up the situation better than I could have (as usual).
“YOU will no longer FEAR the STORM, once you’ve SURVIVED the DROUGHT”
Cindy literally has a flair for iconic and memorable quotes that I’ve never had.
Yesterday, I reviewed a DM from a Linda who wanted to know if I “had heard about Harvey Weinstein?” I follow prison news and legal news closely and ironically had told my husband weeks ago “they are taking him to Bellevue.” Matthew wanted to know the outcome of a very public and sensational trial. I had tuned in at odd times to follow this trial.
While awaiting sentencing, Weinstein was kept at Rikers.
Rikers Island is among the world’s largest jails – it is perched on a 413 acre island between Queens and the Bronx and holds about 7,000 inmates, down from more than 20,000 at its peak in the 1990s.
The majority (85%) of detainees at Rikers Island are pretrial defendants, either held on bail or remanded in custody. The rest of the population have been convicted and are serving short sentences.
As early as February, Bellevue had reported cases of Coronavirus. But the main story that most of us will remember is the death of Kobe not the outbreak of a virus sweeping through New York.
Obviously, Weinstein wasn’t sick during the trial or showing signs of illness.
How do I know? From catching glimpses of the trial. No one was coughing or showing signs of difficulty breathing. That trial was charged with emotion but without visible signs of illness.
Meanwhile at Bellevue, more cases surfaced not only there but at other hospitals as well.
Because Weinstein had suffered a mild heart attack, he was sent to Bellevue for an angioplasty procedure.
There weren’t any reports of Coronavirus at Rikers until after Weinstein having that angioplasty. Think about it.
My observation of the widespread and unheard of transmissions of the Coronavirus at Rikers took me a moment to try and understand why or how the virus had come to get into Rikers.
Was it a guard? A weekend visitor? Or was it Weinstein returning to custody from Bellevue? Could his nurse or treatment team at Bellevue have inadvertently transferred the virus to Weinstein it was it a hard surface that Weinstein came in contact with? Hospitals are riddled with germs as are prisons.
Many posts regarding Weinstein becoming infected with the Coronavirus run from “he deserved it” to “that’s great.” Focus on where he’s been and who has been around him ya all.
What these folks are missing here is the number of people who have been within 6 feet of Weinstein.
Regardless of your feelings about HIM what about THEM?
Attorneys, correctional officers, hospital staff, I could go on and on here. Reporters within close proximity are and have been equally “exposed.”
Someone else had commented on yet another post regarding Rikers being overrun by the virus. Another “who cares?” Well, for people this narrow minded and unconcerned about inmates, it should be noted that the inmates family care.
The correctional officers and their families care too.
Do these people posting hateful comments realize the number of people who work within the criminal justice system prior to making idiotic public remarks? No. Because they don’t love an inmate or an officer. They don’t care about inmates. But there are millions of people who do care about inmates.
There are families who care about a loved one working at a facility overrun with a deadly virus too.
Prisons have millions of visitors on weekends throughout the U.S. But if we look at where this virus is running rampantly through the criminal justice system, it isn’t affecting any state as much as New York. Why? Rikers and Bellevue? The airport? A city that’s a literal hub for international travel? Public transportation? Cabs? Ubers? Drivers from the network? Hotels? Airplanes?
Could it be because Weinstein literally “brought the Coronavirus into Rikers from Bellevue? It is a possibility. Or was an officer already infected and transporting Weinstein from court to Rikers or from Bellevue to Rikers? Was he already infected during the trial? He didn’t appear to be but if the incubation period is two weeks the possibility of him being ill at some point are possible.
Rikers is now releasing inmates at an alarming pace. Were these other inmates exposed? We may never know but the possibility exists.
Other correctional facilities are following Rikers lead. They too want to thin the numbers of inmates. This has never occurred within the criminal justice system before. TDCJ will not follow the lead of others and neither is CDCR although many are pressuring early releases. CDCR may very well start releasing older inmates or inmates with health issues due to the number of people pressuring them to do so but pressure won’t affect TDCJ. This is Texas and Texas is being proactive rather than reactive.
Ironically, the Fort Worth PD announced publicly that they won’t arrest Class C suspects. They don’t want to bring anything into the jails. But does this announcement encourage criminal behavior? Maybe. In Texas, most citizens are armed and in a position to protect their home and property. Texans are preparers by nature. Most know how to hunt and fish. Parents and grandparents teach kids gun safety at a young age. I was one of those kids. My uncle handed me a rifle at about ten years old. I don’t like guns and never have but I know how to use one and my husband has taken me to driving ranges for years to keep me aware of the possibility of one day needing to use a gun to protect myself. I hope that day never comes.
How did the virus get to Bellevue? A woman returning from abroad flew into Newark and then went to Bellevue. Did Bellevue already have the virus? Maybe. Was it a possibility? Absolutely.
No one took this Coronavirus seriously until they were forced to do so. Including me. I viewed this virus as I did the flu which affects and kills people every year.
I’m OCD and to people around me known as a germ freak. Those months spent volunteering at the nursing home taught me to be aware of germs and the transmission of germs. I’ve never forgotten what I learned about sterilization at that nursing home.
Why? At 15 years old I was volunteering at a nursing home for a health class to attempt to go into the nursing profession.
At a very young age, I learned about germs. Nurses and personnel warned me about infection and transmission.
Although I chose another path in my career, I’ve never forgotten how fragile seniors are and how easily germs can spread through a nursing home. Prisons are equally vulnerable as are hospitals.
I began officiating inmate weddings in California years ago prior to other states including Texas, I followed the same stringent guidelines about sanitizing my hands prior to entering and after leaving a Unit.
I also had advised my PCP that I would be going into prisons and needed booster immunizations in order to protect my clients, the facility staff, myself and the inmates.
When my twin sister, Cindy and niece, Leigh Ann began officiating inmate ceremonies, they followed the same regimen of doing whatever they could to stay healthy and immunized. Why? Because the importance of being vigilant is to protect not only ourselves but also those around us.
I had an inquisitive phone call about a post on my FB page, Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham after posting my observations regarding Rikers. It was a reporter. She had read my post regarding Rikers and Bellevue.
Why no one else saw or noticed the same things I did I have no idea. I love a mystery. I love trying to figure out what happened or will happen. With the Coronavirus, no one could have anticipated what has happened. No one.
While the media reported that Weinstein “tested positive,” what they didn’t do was attempt to find out how.
My self imposed isolation began last Monday. I’ve continued to stay in touch with clients, Units and my family. I’ve officiated two drive through funerals. Shocking yes but I’ve also had a flood of people contacting me because their “other officiant” effectively bailed on them.
Fear flops two ways. While vendors are upset about cancellations, customers are now getting cancelled by their vendor? This trend during wedding season has never occurred before.
BUT I can’t save everyone. I have to put my booked clients first which is why I’m not taking on new or short notice bookings. Why? Because I currently have a month of rescheduled events already. These clients are my priority.
“You must turn your back on the choir to focus on the congregation.”
My twin sister famously told me this at a wedding years ago. The couple were the congregation. Their families were the choir. Cindy and her iconic quotes are honest, raw and real.
Anyone contacting me with a full plate of clients awaiting reschedules is effectively the choir. I have an existing congregation.
The reporter contacting me wanted a Zoom conference. I prefer Skype and use it frequently for production companies and media interviews. Nonetheless and anyhow, I downloaded Zoom and attempted to “fix myself up.” What do I mean by that folks? Well my quarantine clothing consists of daytime pajamas and nighttime pajamas which obviously aren’t appropriate for a video conference call.
My husband asked “why are you putting on makeup? You aren’t going anywhere are you?”
The safety of officiating ceremonies from my car and limiting my interaction with mourners, clients and guests is and will be odd. Mobile weddings and funerals are unheard of but fast becoming a reality. Social distancing is a learning curve.
I miss the intimacy of hugging clients to celebrate their wedding or posing for wedding photos. I miss the intimacy of shaking hands and sharing my sorrow at a memorial. I can currently no longer perform baptisms. Social distancing and stringent guidelines to protect the transmission of this virus have literally changed the way I live.
All of my clients are upset about changes. From visitation revocation to rescheduled events, no one is happy about the current changes set forth to prevent the transmission of this virus. We are all “adapting.” We have no choice.
Rikers and Wende now have the Coronavirus.
Cindy and I had flown into Newark last August to film with Mel Robbins. Cindy and Wendy both sanitized our entire areas on the plane with antibacterial wipes while fellow passengers stared at us. Cindy and Wendy fly a lot and learned years ago that every time we got off a plane we got sick. We changed that by being OCD. We no longer get sick flying and the reason we dont is over precaution.
Leigh Ann had flown into JFK. Our travel coordinator couldn’t put us at the same airport which wasn’t an issue as the driver for Leigh Ann took her to the same hotel our driver did.
Our first night in New York would be the first time my twin had chest pains. It would be our first inkling of a problem too. Irony has many faces.
On one hand, we had a set of Texas Twins who have never not honored a commit in their lives. On the other hand, my sister had a health issue that had surfaced. Cindy wouldn’t go to the hospital in New York because “we must be on the set. I will go to a doctor back home.”
Leaving New York at Newark Airport, I as usual had antibacterial wipes. In fact, every time we got into a car with our driver, I wiped down the areas. My sister was having chest pains. I went and bought a bottle of aspirin and bottle of water. I was terrified Cindy would have a heart attack returning to DFW. But, she didn’t and she didn’t because I bought those aspirin.
Back in DFW, my twin was diagnosed with angina. I was determined to find out why.
Admitted and discharged from Harris with this cryptic diagnosis. I demanded a prescription for nitroglycerin. Why? Because I had researched angina.
In a matter of days the nitroglycerin would save my sister from a major heart attack. In a matter of months, my sister would undergo an angioplasty just like Weinstein. But the nitroglycerin and aspirin while waiting on a referral for a cardiologist are why my sister survived.
We were waiting on that referral while Cindy was a passenger in my suv running from Unit to Unit across Texas and driving her daughter, Stephaney to treatment in Oklahoma.
The stress of “another inpatient stint” for Stephaney didn’t help Cindys stress level or angina discomfort.
I took Cindy to Harris in Willow Park and my twin was finally transferred to the Heart Ward for an angioplasty. The referral from our PCP came while she was at Harris still recovering.
You can imagine after going through all of this to get my sister proper treatment why I wondered how Weinstein “got right in” and “got that angioplasty.”
For people on the outside, getting a cardiologist and getting an angioplasty are far more difficult. Why do you think there are so many heart attacks in America?
A number of people are saying “Weinstein got what he deserved.” But, what about the personnel at the Unit? What about other inmates? What about the visitors to Rikers? What about the families of personnel and visitors? This isn’t so much about Weinstein as it is throwing a rock in the pond. The rock leaves ripples.
As Units across the country consider releasing inmates, Rikers is releasing more than anyone else.
Are these inmates infected? Who knows but they are out and they are out after being exposed. Think about it.
Wende now has two cases with one of them being Weinstein. Will there be others at Wende? Are there already?
Weinstein will be housed in Wende for his entire classification process, a Department of Corrections spokesperson said.
“There is no standard time frame for this process, as it varies based on the individual’s programmatic, medical and other needs,” the rep said.
How many correctional officers have been within 6 feet of Weinstein? How many people have been near him? It’s a question that may never be answered but needs to be considered….