Mumia Abu-Jamal has lost 30 pounds since testing positive for COVID-19 as a long-term skin condition has flared up leaving “bloodied open wounds” all over his body, said one of his supporters.
On Monday, Abu-Jamal appeared to be recovering from COVID-19 and no longer receiving intravenous fluids as he remained isolated in the infirmary at Mahanoy State Correctional Institution in Frackville, said Johanna Fernández, an associate professor of history at Baruch College of the City University of New York.
Fernández said Abu-Jamal’s body weight has dropped to 215 pounds from 245 pounds since receiving a positive COVID-19 test on March 3.
After speaking with Abu-Jamal directly on Sunday, Fernández said, “It seems that the worst of COVID is behind us,” although she was not a medical doctor.
Yet a skin condition, which is thought to be linked to Abu-Jamal’s hepatitis C infection, has left much of Abu-Jamal’s skin cracked, whitened, bloodied and ruptured, Fernández said. While Fernández said she had photos of Abu-Jamal’s condition, she did not have permission to share them.
“It’s a horror show,” Fernández said about Abu-Jamal’s condition.
Fernández said Abu-Jamal related to her that infirmary staff ought to be giving him daily medical baths to treat his skin condition, per a prison doctor’s recommendation over the weekend. Abu-Jamal was not receiving those daily medical baths.
Fernández said Abu-Jamal remains positive.
“He wants to live,” Fernández said.
Robert Boyle, an attorney for Abu-Jamal, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Fernández reiterated her calls and those of Abu-Jamal’s supporters that he should be released from prison and receive medical care at a hospital.
“That a prisoner is being held under these conditions suggests that all standards of decency, morality and humanity have eroded in American society,” Fernández said. “Mumia is not alone: This is what medical care looks like in American prisons.”
Abu-Jamal was rushed to a local area hospital on Feb. 27. Soon after, he was diagnosed with congestive heart disease.
Abu-Jamal was returned to Mahanoy SCI early last week. On Wednesday, it was revealed Abu-Jamal tested positive for COVID-19.
Abu-Jamal, formerly known as Wesley Cook, was convicted of fatally shooting Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner after Faulkner had reportedly pulled over Abu-Jamal’s brother during a late-night traffic stop in 1981.
In prison since 1982, Abu-Jamal was on death row until 2011, when his death sentence was ruled unconstitutional. He is now serving a life sentence.
Abu-Jamal and his supporters have always maintained his innocence, alleging that his trial was tainted by police corruption and racism. Yet Police Benevolent Association Lodge 5 and Maureen Faulkner, Daniel Faulkner’s widow, among several others have maintained the trial was fair and Abu-Jamal guilty.
Abu-Jamal, who worked in Black radio before his conviction, has published several books and commentaries during his decades in prison.
He is appealing his conviction in Pennsylvania courts.