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Coronavirus Pandemic: Santa Rita Jail Inmate Tests Positive; 77 New Cases In Alameda County

DUBLIN (CBS SF) -- Alameda County health officials reported 77 new coronavirus cases Saturday, including an inmate being housed at Santa Rita Jail.

In a news release, Alameda County Sheriff's Department spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said the inmate -- the first case among those being held at the facility -- was currently in stable condition inside the jail's medical facility.

"A contact investigation is underway to identify staff and inmates who may have come in close contact with the patient," the press release read. "Prior to diagnosis, the patient was housed in a two-person cell within a pod and had limited contact with other persons."

Other inmates within the pod were also being monitored for any sign of the virus. Deputies at the facility have also been wearing personal protective equipment including an N95 mask during the course of their regular duties at the jail for several weeks.

Fearing an outbreak of the virus at the facility, the sheriff's department, Alameda District Attorney's Office and judges with the Alameda County Superior Court have worked together for the early release of inmates nearing the end of their sentences to ease overcrowding.

A total of 322 inmates have now been released from Santa Rita since a county shelter-in-place order took effect on March 17. During the week of March 24th, 67 inmates were released on their own recognizance and 247 people who had 45 days or less left on their sentences were also allowed to leave the facility.

The inmate releases have reduced the number of inmates at Santa Rita to 2,217, down from its average level of 2,600.

"These orders have been issued with the specific intent to maximize the court's efforts to protect the health and safety of those who work within and interact with the court while also balancing any potential risks to the community," Alameda County Superior Court officials said in a statement.

With the 787 new cases reported on Saturday, Alameda County has now had 538 confirmed coronavirus cases and 12 deaths.

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