Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has tested positive for the coronavirus disease, NBC News reports.
The 68-year-old convicted rapist tested positive for COVID-19 at the maximum security Wende Correctional Facility, where he is currently serving a 23-year sentence, according to NBC.
“Keeping our community safe”
The news of Weinstein’s diagnosis first came from Michael Powers, who serves as president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association. Powers told NBC that Weinstein has been isolated, as have several prison staffers who were recently in contact with him.
But according to the union chief, quarantining may not be enough to stop the spread of the virus in such close quarters. He pointed to the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves for correctional officers working in New York’s prisons.
“PPE is vital for us in our facilities,” Powers told NBC. “While a lot of people were working from home, we are keeping our community safe.”
Monitoring the situation
Reuters reported Sunday that Weinstein’s attorneys, for their part, say they haven’t yet “been notified of the coronavirus diagnosis.”
“Given Mr. Weinstein’s state of health, we are of course concerned, if this is the case, and we are vigilantly monitoring the situation,” Imran Ansari, a New York-based attorney who represents Weinstein, told Reuters.
The “state” of Weinstein’s health is indeed a rocky one: the former Hollywood powerhouse suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes, according to Reuters, and he was hospitalized shortly after his recent sentencing for “heart problems.” These factors, along with his age, put Weinstein at a higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19, as NBC notes.
It is not known for certain how Weinstein contracted the illness, but he was being held at the infamous — and crowded — Rikers Island correctional complex during his New York City trial, NBC News reported. The city’s jails have seen a wave of infections in recent weeks, with at least 38 inmates known to have tested positive as of Monday afternoon, according to the Associated Press.
An additional 12 employees of the Department of Correction and Correctional Health Services are also sick, the AP reported. With the numbers climbing, jail officials are now pushing for a number of criminals to be released to mitigate the virus’ spread.
“Fewer people in the jails will save lives and minimize transmission among people in custody as well as staff,” Jacqueline Sherman, interim chairwoman of the New York City Board of Correction, wrote in a recent letter to state leaders, according to the AP.
Only time will tell if Weinstein is one of the lucky ones let off the hook amid this ongoing outbreak.