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Harvey Weinstein Transferred, Contracts Coronavirus and Is Put in Isolation

Four days ago, on March 18, Harvey Weinstein was transferred to a reception facility at the Wende prison complex in Erie County, New York. Reception facilities are intake facilities where a new inmate undergoes diagnostic testing and observation and then the staff decides which prison he should be sent to to serve his sentence. Wende also has a maximum security prison.

Apparently, upon arrival he and another new transferee tested positive for the Coronavirus and were put in isolation in the medical unit at Wende's maximum security prison.

Wende has a long history as a prison, going back to the 1920's. It is now comprised of 49 buildings on 15 acres. It has a Regional Medical Unit (RMU) at the maximum security prison that at least on paper, provides comprehensive care. [More...]

The maximum-security RMU, which opened in 1998, is a four-story building located within the secured perimeter. It contains an 18-bed infirmary for Wende’s primary care operation. The RMU also features 80 in-patient beds for those male inmates in western New York who are in need of coordinated speciality or long-term care.

The RMU also includes a dialysis unit plus a physical therapy unit. Its clinical area provides space for on-site procedures as well as inmate evaluation sessions by community specialists versed in no less than 25 medical disciplines.

There are five of these RMU's in the state prison system.

California requested a writ for Weinstein to face pending charges there, which was granted (after the charges are resolved, CA is supposed to return him to NY to serve that sentence first.) That writ is probably on hold as most prisons are only doing emergency transfers and transfers for inmates who are eligible for release. From the news article linked at the top of this post:

Michael Powers, president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA), said he could not comment on Weinstein's situation or elaborate on any inmate's health record due to privacy rules.

Powers acknowledged the union has urged state corrections officials to immediately suspend all "non essential" transfers of inmates from one state facility to another as well as the transporting of local jail prisoners to the state prisons during the ongoing health emergency.

"There is no better breeding ground for this virus than a closed environment such as a correctional facility," said Powers.

The prison guards' union chief also said "three state corrections officers" have tested positive for the virus" and "numerous officers throughout the system are being monitored after coming in contact with people believed to have been infected."

How many is "numerous"? According to the article, the number includes 58 prison guards in the Western part of New York being monitored and 28 guards at Green Haven, a maximum security prison in Putnam county, north of Westchester County.

The quote from the union chief makes it sound like the inmates (or their visitors) transferred the virus to the guards, but I think it was probably the other way around -- that the guards got it in their communities or from shared work stations, bathrooms or while eating together and then unwittingly, because they were asymptomatic at the time, brought it into the prisons where the virus droplets got transferred to the inmates.

New York has really been hit hard. I think Governor Cuomo deserves a lot of praise. The feds deserve none so far. And while no one wants to be in a maximum security prison, Wende seems to have the capacity to deal with inmates suffering from a wide range of medical ailments. The question is, can they deal with inmates whose significant pre-existing medical issues put them at greater risk due to the coronavirus? If not, they apparently have the option to transfer Weinstein to a major hospital in Buffalo. In that event, I hope they use it.

(The point of this post is to discuss treatment of inmates who test positive for the virus. Any comments saying Weinstein deserves it will be deleted.)

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