Harvey Weinstein has been placed in isolation in prison amid concerns that he has tested positive for COVID-19, Variety has confirmed.
Prison employees who were in contact with Weinstein have also been placed in quarantine to avoid spreading the virus throughout the Wende Correctional Facility, a source in the New York state prison system tells Variety.
“Seven employees that were in direct contact with Mr. Weinstein have been placed in quarantine, and Mr. Weinstein has been placed in an isolation unit in the Wende Correctional Facility,” a prison official said to Variety under the condition of anonymity due to inmate privacy laws.
While the prison official did not confirm that Weinstein has officially tested positive for coronavirus, the source tells Variety that based on the information that the prison has gathered, it appears Weinstein has the virus.
“We’re pretty confident that he’s probably tested positive, but we haven’t gotten confirmation,” the source said. “We received the information yesterday from the prison, and we followed up and found out that he was in isolation. 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 prison official is unclear on whether Weinstein was displaying symptoms or got a test simply for precautionary reasons.
“The state failed to follow our instructions not to transport inmates from facility to facility,” the source adds.
As of Monday morning, Weinstein’s reps — spokesman Juda Engelmayer and attorney Arthur Aidala — were not able to confirm to Variety that their client has tested positive for coronavirus.
On Sunday, a report from the Niagara Gazette, a local newspaper based in Niagara Falls, N.Y., said Weinstein had tested positive for COVID-19.
When contacted by Variety at the time of the newspaper report, Weinstein’s spokesman said he did not have information regarding Weinstein testing positive for COVID-10. Variety also spoke to an attorney for Weinstein and his prison consultant, who both also said they could not confirm the report.
When asked on Sunday if Weinstein has tested positive for COVID-19, Weinstein’s prison consultant replied: “No one on the legal defense team has been told this. Period.” He added, “We cannot confirm that, nor care to comment on speculation.”
An additional source close to Weinstein told Variety he learned about the news by reading the report on Sunday evening, and had not learned of the information himself, so he could not confirm whether Weinstein has coronavirus. The source said he believes Weinstein has been in isolation since he arrived to prison, but not because of coronavirus concerns. “Just getting him oriented in where he was,” the source said, adding that Weinstein is situated in a medical wing.
According to the newspaper, Weinstein is one of two inmates at Wende Correctional Facility who have tested positive for coronavirus.
The Niagara Gazette report cited “officials connected to the state prison system,” as their sources who say Weinstein has tested positive for the virus, but spoke to the paper anonymously, since they were not authorized to speak on Weinstein’s condition. The sources told the newspaper it is believed Weinstein had already contracted the virus by the time he entered the state prison system last Wednesday when he was transferred from Rikers Island in New York City.
Prior to being transferred to Rikers, Weinstein was at Bellevue Hospital in New York City where he was being monitored for a heart condition and high blood pressure. Prior to his sentencing, Weinstein underwent an angioplasty at Bellevue. With the rapid spread of coronavirus, New York City is the epicenter of the pandemic and Manhattan hospitals, like Bellevue, have been experiencing a unsustainable surge in patients.
On Monday afternoon, Governor Andrew Cuomo said nearly 21,000 cases have been confirmed in the state of New York with 12,000 of those cases in New York City.
The Niagara Gazette spoke to Michael Powers, president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, who would not comment on Weinstein, due to inmate privacy rules. Powers, however, did note that the union has asked state corrections officials to suspend all non essential inmate transfers from one state facility to another to avoid the spread of coronavirus, during the global pandemic. “There is no better breeding ground for this virus than a closed environment such as a correctional facility,” he told the newspaper.
As a precaution during the coronavirus crisis, DOCCS suspended all visitors to prison inmates last week.
Weinstein turned 68-years-old last week in prison, so given his age and poor health conditions, he is a high-risk individual with coronavirus. The disgraced movie mogul and convicted rapist is currently serving a 23-year term 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.
Gene Maddaus and Mackenzie Nichols contributed to this report.
(Updated on Mar. 23 with comment from a New York state prison official.)