Bill Cosby’s lawyers fear he’ll contract coronavirus in prison

Bill Cosby arrives for his sentencing hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

Lawyers for Bill Cosby are “considering filing a motion” for an early release date for the convicted comedian as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

His lawyers fear that Cosby will contract the new coronavirus in prison and are asking that he spend the remainder of his sentence at home.

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The 82-year-old actor is serving a three- to 10-year sentence at State Correctional Institution Phoenix after being convicted in 2018 of sexually assaulting a woman.

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Cosby’s spokesperson fears he will contract the illness from an inmate or a staff member that is in charge of taking care of him because he is blind.

“The reason: Mr. Cosby is elderly and blind — and always needs to be escorted around the prison by support service inmates, known as Certified Peer Specialists (CPI),” the spokesman Andrew Wyatt said. “Those inmates could fall victim to the coronavirus and easily spread the disease to Mr. Cosby as they wheel him around in a wheelchair. Among their duties, the inmates bring Mr. Cosby to the infirmary for his doctor appointments and clean his cell.”

Wyatt continued, “In addition, Mr. Cosby is constantly in contact with the correction officers who could contract the disease on the outside and bring it inside the prison, potentially exposing Mr. Cosby to the virus.”

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“Prisons and jails around the country are becoming infested with coronavirus cases — and it’s only a matter of time before Mr. Cosby’s prison likely falls victim to the virus,” Wyatt told Variety.

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Wyatt said that Cosby feels fine at the moment and has not been tested for the virus.

He also shared that Cosby’s lawyers are “considering filing a motion” for the actor to serve the remainder of his sentence at home.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, no inmates within its system had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“DOC staff are working around the clock to review and consider all possible mitigation efforts for all our inmates and parolees at this time,” a spokeswoman said. “As you may know, there is a legal process for release of inmates, be it parole board action, pardons, commutations or judicial … and the DOC doesn’t have that discretion.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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