Harvey Weinstein has tested positive for COVID-19, and is currently in an isolation unit in a New York state prison, Variety has confirmed.
Weinstein’s team would not confirm or deny his health status, citing privacy concerns, but Variety has confirmed the positive test results through an anonymous New York state prison official.
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“The prison is well aware of the situation. They are doing everything they can to make sure he’s safe and being taken care of,” Weinstein’s spokesman, Juda Engelmayer, tells Variety.
Seven prison employees who were in direct contact with Weinstein were also put into quarantine to avoid spreading the virus, sources tell Variety.
Weinstein is being housed at the Wende Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison outside Buffalo, N.Y., after being found guilty on two charges of a criminal sex act and rape in the third degree.
“We’re pretty confident that he’s probably tested positive, but we haven’t gotten confirmation,” the prison official previously told Variety. “From what we understand, he did receive a test recently. We’re basing it off of solid information that he has contracted the virus.”
The New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association union has asked state corrections officials to suspend all non-essential inmate transfers from one state facility to another to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. As for Weinstein, the prison source says, “The state failed to follow our instructions not to transport inmates from facility to facility.”
Weinstein had been transferred from Rikers Island in New York City to Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo last week. Weinstein also spent time at Bellevue Hospital over the past two weeks where he was being monitored for chest pains, immediately following his 23-year sentencing. Prior to his sentencing, but after he was found guilty by a jury, Weinstein was at Bellevue where he underwent a heart procedure to remove a blockage.
New York City hospitals, like Bellevue, have been experiencing a unsustainable surge in patients, as Manhattan is the epicenter of the pandemic. On Monday afternoon, Governor Andrew Cuomo said nearly 21,000 cases have been confirmed in New York state with 12,000 of those cases in New York City.
In California and other states, low-level offenders are being released from prison, in addition to elderly and sickly inmates, in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus throughout the prison system. Weinstein, who has been convicted on both rape and a criminal sex act, clearly is not a low-level offender.
Weinstein turned 68-years-old last week in prison, so given his age and poor health conditions, he is a high-risk individual with the coronavirus. He is currently serving a 23-year term in New York, and is facing charges in Los Angeles as well. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office began the extradition process late last week, signaling plans to move forward with the L.A. trial.
A spokesperson for the L.A. District Attorney’s office said on Monday, “As for any concerns given the coronavirus pandemic, our office expects that each agency responsible for processing, transporting and housing defendant Weinstein will follow its protocols and public health guidelines.”
The L.A. District Attorney’s office has initiated its request to New York authorities to extradite Weinstein to face rape and sexual assault charges. Late last week, the agency had filed a detainer on the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, which served as a formal notification of the California charges. No arraignment date has been set.
Weinstein’s team (his spokesman, Engelmayer; his attorney, Arthur Aidala; and his prison consultant, Craig Rothfeld) provided a statement to Variety on Monday afternoon, regarding his health status. Read the statement in full:
We appreciate your patience during this time, as we know there has been much concern and curiosity for Mr. Weinstein’s health.
As of Monday afternoon, we have talked with the NYSDOCCS regarding Mr. Weinstein’s health condition. We are incredibly appreciative of the response and time given to the Legal Defense Team from both the NYSDOCCS Central Office and Wende Correctional Facility where we have held several conversations with senior level DOCCS officials.
They have been extremely responsive and caring about the situation, and we want to point out that at no time did the NYSDOCCS make any statement or issue a comment regarding Mr. Weinstein’s current health condition, for which we are incredibly grateful. Any statements that have been made were not made or authorized by the Department of Corrections and could be considered a violation of HIPAA regulations.
At this time, we will neither confirm nor deny whether Mr. Weinstein has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. While his team is now fully aware of his current medical condition, since Mr. Weinstein executed the proper Dept. of Corrections Healthcare Information Release Form, we are going to continue protecting his privacy and maintain his privacy. As such, we will not discuss this matter any further.
(Gene Maddaus contributed to this report.)
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