Disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein reportedly tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday. Weinstein just began serving a 23-year prison sentence in New York state for rape and sexual assault in a landmark #MeToo case.
The Guardian reports that Weinstein, 68, is now in isolation at Wende Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison near Buffalo, New York. Weinstein just arrived at Wende on Wednesday from Rikers Island in New York City.
Due to privacy laws, officials at Wende have been unable to comment on Weinstein’s case. But a spokesperson did confirm to BuzzFeed News that two inmates at the facility have tested positive for COVID-19.
“The Department cannot comment on an individual’s medical record. However, we can confirm that two of the Department’s approximately 43,000 incarcerated individuals, both at Wende Correctional Facility, have confirmed cases,” the spokesperson said.
Several members of the staff at Wende have now been quarantined, according to Michael Powers, president of the state’s Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association. Moreover, the union has encouraged state corrections officials to suspend all “non-essential” transfers of inmates from one facility to another to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Visits from outsiders are already suspended.
“There is no better breeding ground for this virus than a closed environment such as a correctional facility,” Powers told The Niagara Gazette, which first broke the story.
There is already an outbreak of coronavirus at Rikers Island among both prisoners and staff. Other New York City jail facilities are experiencing the same. Mayor Bill de Blasio is now releasing inmates after urging from prison doctors and health officials.
During Weinstein’s time at Rikers, he was also spending time at the hospital for high blood pressure and diabetes.
Weinstein’s spokesmen and lawyers say they haven’t heard about the 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,” lawyer Imran Ansari told The Guardian.