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Coronavirus ‘Fears’ in Manhattan: Federal Judge Says Courtroom Needs to Be Cleansed


This outdoor space is sparsely populated as fears of the coronavirus spreading through the U.S. increase on March 04, 2020 in New York City. Travel, business, schools and other aspects of American life are beginning to be affected by the virus as new cases emerge.

Another potential case of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) may have made its way to Manhattan. And this time, the Southern District of New York (SDNY) may be the site of contagion.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan pumped the brakes on an ongoing Iranian sanctions-related trial when it was learned that one of the potential jurors was notified about Coronavirus contact by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

“I must inform you that one of the prospective jurors in this case has been contacted by the CDC about Coronavirus,” she said. “We will need to clean the courtroom.”

It is currently unclear who that juror is or if they have actually tested positive for the Coronavirus infection.

Inner City Press reporter Matthew Russell Lee noted the immediate aftermath after Nathan’s shocking announcement was made:

It is proposed to Judge Nathan that the trial move to Courtroom 110. She says that everything that has been in her courtroom on the 9th floor of 40 Foley Square might also have to be cleansed.

Despite the potentially deadly severity, however, some in the downtown Manhattan courtroom reportedly took the alert in stride.

A defense lawyer in the case stylized as U.S. v. Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad simply complained that the Coronavirus issue had caught their side “off guard,” according to Lee.

Another attorney complained they “only” had one hour of cross-examination left to do.

Judge Nathan was apparently unimpressed by the attorneys’ nonchalance and ordered a break to do some fact-finding of her own.

Per Lee’s Inner City Press report:

The prospective juror due to a religious institution connection was contacted by the CDC. The District Executive emphasized that it precautionary. But the jurors were not told the reason, only to return to Courtroom 110 in an hour’s time, after an “early lunch.” Developing.

There have been four confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus in New York City so far. The prospective SDNY juror would make five—with the potential for many more due to the close quarters and tight security lines of lower Manhattan courtroom buildings.

New York State has confirmed 13 cases of the fast-spreading and likely pandemic as of this writing.

[image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images]

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