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Elizabeth Holmes Trial Is Delayed After Juror Reports Possible COVID-19 Exposure

Elizabeth Holmes' fraud trial, which began with opening statements on Wednesday, is slated to resume Tuesday. 

By Jill Sederstrom
Elizabeth Holmes

The fraud trial for Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has been delayed—just days after it began—after a juror reported a potential exposure to COVID-19.

U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila held an emergency Zoom meeting late Thursday after receiving an email from Juror 9, who said he may have been exposed to the virus over the weekend, NBC News reports.

“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 juror was reportedly not experiencing any symptoms and is said to be awaiting test results.

Prosecutors had tried to resist the delay, stressing that the juror was vaccinated and had no symptoms at this time.

“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,” U.S. Assistant Attorney Jeff Schenk said, according to the outlet.

Protocols are already in place, including plexi-glass screens in front of the jury box, judge and area where the attorneys stand, to try to maintain safety throughout the trial, which is expected to last several months. During jury selection, nine potential jurors were dismissed because they were unvaccinated.

Schenk also expressed concern about “just the total number of witnesses” they planned to call in the next several months and was hesitant to draw out the proceedings with an early delay.

Holmes trial began with opening statements on Wednesday, as opposing sides tried to portray the former Silicon Valley CEO as both a villain and victim, according to The Associated Press.

Prosecutors described Holmes—who is facing a dozen counts of wire fraud and conspiracy—as a greedy and scheming entrepreneur determined to become the next Steve Jobs even if it meant lying to her investors about the capabilities of the blood-testing technology she claimed would revolutionize the health care industry.

“This case is about fraud, about lying and cheating to get money,” federal prosecutor said Robert Leach said in his opening statement.

Leach said a former top finance officer planned to testify that despite Holmes’ claims publicly that Theranos was anticipated make $140 million in revenue in 2014, the company had only made about $650,000 in revenue from the entire period from 2011 to 2014.

Yet, her defense attorney Lance Wade argued that Holmes had devoted years of her life to try to fulfill the company’s promise and “did her best day in and day out” to achieve success.

“Failure is not a crime,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “Trying your hardest is not a crime. A failed business does not make a CEO a criminal.”

Unsealed court documents obtained by CNN have also suggested her defense team may bring in claims that Holmes was a victim of psychological, emotional and sexual abuse by ex-boyfriend and former Theranos executive Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani.

Wade said in court that Balwani had also been the one to oversee the company’s lab, which the government has contended used misleading blood test results to deceive investors.

The trial is now expected to resume on Tuesday, The New York Post reports.

If convicted, Holmes, 37, could face up to 20 years behind bars.