LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Jail has released approximately 1,700 inmates to lessen the inmate population during the coronavirus pandemic, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Tuesday.

These releases lowered the county’s jail population by about 10 percent, according to Villanueva.

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On Friday, L.A. District Attorney Jackie Lacey said that she instructed prosecutors to take steps to lower the number of people in local jails and area courthouses in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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“I have asked my attorneys to consider the health risks in every decision they make,” Lacey said Friday. “I have directed them to consider ways to keep nonviolent felony and misdemeanor offenders out of our jails and courthouses during this pandemic.”

Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile said Tuesday additional pre-trial inmates will be released, but the number was not disclosed.

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The inmate release comes after the first California State Prison inmate tested positive for the coronavirus in Lancaster on Sunday.

The patient has been in isolation since March 19 when he reported not feeling well. The agency said the patient was tested the following day and the results were received Sunday.

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Five state prison staff members have also tested positive — two each at the California Institution for Men in China and California State Prison in Sacramento and one other at Folsom State Prison.

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