On the morning of March 15, amid escalating fears about the COVID-19 outbreak, a 62-year-old educational consultant showed up at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York for a flight to Trinidad, where he planned to attend a funeral, he said. But police stopped the consultant at the gate and arrested him under a year-old warrant, alleging he’d given bogus information for a state identification card in New Jersey.The arrest led the consultant into New York‘s notoriously brutal and unsanitary jail system, where COVID-19 was beginning to spread.The consultant, who spoke on condition that he be identified only by his first name, Bill, knew jail would be terrible. But he said he was shaken by an apparent lack of protection against the coronavirus for inmates and workers.His first night in the Vernon C. Bain Center, a floating jail in the East River, was spent on a floor, lying back-to-back with other men, “like a slave ship,” he said. Then he was assigned to a dorm at the floating jail where inmates — many of them charged with nonviolent crimes or parole violations — bunked about 3 feet apart, ate at communal tables, shared toilets, showers and phones and


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