SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — An inmate being held in the San Francisco County jail system has tested positive for the coronavirus leading to renew pleas from the public defender’s office to continue the early release of detainees to ease the facilities crowded conditions.

San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju announced the facility’s first positive case. Within the city, public health officials reported Thursday there have been 17 new confirmed cases to bring the total number of cases since the outbreak began to 1,019 with 17 deaths.

“While we knew it was nearly inevitable the virus would make its way into the jail, I am still deeply concerned to learn today that an incarcerated person in the San Francisco County Jail system tested positive for coronavirus,” Raju said. “This is the exact scenario my team has fought day in and day out to avoid by reducing the jail population.”

While no numbers have been released for April, in March nearly 25% of the jail system’s inmates were allowed to go free on early release to ease crowding and to prevent a mass outbreak of the virus.

District Attorney Chesa Boudin said on March 28th that there were roughly 840 people in custody in San Francisco’s jails, down from about 1,100 on March 4.

Raju said now that the virus has been confirmed with the system, additional inmates should be considered for early release.

“It is vital that the jail population reduction work not only continue but accelerate,” he said. “Despite the reductions in the jail population, multiple strangers still share sinks, toilets, and bunk beds. These conditions prevent social distancing and proper hygiene and continue to be dangerous for everyone living or working inside the jails.”

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