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Elizabeth Holmes trial delayed after juror potentially exposed to Covid

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Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos Inc., left, arrives at federal court in San Jose, California, on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The fraud trial of former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes came to a grinding halt when a juror disclosed to the court that he had been potentially exposed to Covid and was awaiting test results.

In an emergency Zoom hearing late Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila told attorneys for Holmes and the government that he had received an email from juror #9 on Thursday indicating he may have been exposed over the holiday weekend but was not experiencing symptoms.

“It’s a little, I don’t want to say ominous, but it’s of concern that before we finish the first witness we have an issue,” Davila said. “For our sake, around the county there are still high numbers and we hope everybody continues to be safe.”

The government however pushed back, expressing concern over delaying the trial given the amount of witnesses they plan to call. U.S. Assistant Attorney, Jeff Schenk, told the judge that the juror was vaccinated, not currently displaying symptoms and it was unclear whether he had experienced a close contact with Covid-19.

“I think at the stage we’re in it would be safe to proceed with trial tomorrow but I understand that the court might determine especially in the beginning to be a little bit safer, to be extra careful,” Schenk said.

He later added, “I think we have a little bit of concern about just the total number of witnesses that we want to call over the next several months in this trial. But I cannot tell the court that one day tomorrow really is what makes the difference. That’s not the challenge.”

The highly anticipated trial began on Wednesday with opening statements. Preventative measures were on display in the packed San Jose courtroom with plexiglass panels in front of the judge, at the end of the jury box and where attorneys speak. The courtroom has also installed numerous air purifiers and an improved filtration system.

Holmes is facing a dozen counts of wire fraud and conspiracy. She has pled not guilty.


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