New York Jail Is Unable to Test Inmates for Virus, Judge Says

(Bloomberg) -- The federal jail housing more than 700 men and women in downtown Manhattan has no capability to test for coronavirus, according to a judge who rejected an inmate’s plea to be tested.

The Metropolitan Correctional Center “has no on-site Covid-19 testing capabilities,” U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla said in a court order made public on Thursday, citing information she got from a lawyer for the jail.

Failla denied the request by Clifford Taylor, who faces drug charges and illegal possession of a gun. Taylor, who has pleaded not guilty, is being held while awaiting trial.

The MCC lawyer, in a conversation with the judge, also reported that “there are many practical impediments at this time to removing Mr. Taylor from the MCC and transporting him to a facility where he could be tested,” Failla said.

The Bureau of Prisons didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment.

Prosecutors have agreed to have Taylor released to home confinement on a $100,000 bond and required that he return to the jail “as soon as the court concludes that the defendant no longer faces the acute health risk posed by the current circumstances,” Failla said.

The request for a test came from Taylor’s lawyer, who said in a court filing the defendant is in quarantine with 30 other men, some of whom have been directly exposed to people who have tested positive.

The MCC is the jail where accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself in August while awaiting trial.

The case is U.S. v. Taylor, 19-cr-00410, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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