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65 inmates in self-quarantine, 1 tested for coronavirus at DC jail

One inmate is being tested for the virus, and has been separated from their cellmate while they wait for test results.

WASHINGTON — Sixty-five D.C. jail inmates are self-quarantined after a U.S. Marshal who worked in D.C.'s Superior Court tested positive for the virus. The 65 individuals are believed to have had some form of contact with the Marshal.  

One inmate has been tested for the virus, and is currently awaiting results. 

"Out of an abundance of caution both those cellmates are in their own area, and kept away from other inmates for now," Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue said in a press conference on March 19.

The Department of Corrections is increasing cleaning measures for all cell blocks and has deep cleaned all of the cells where the 65 quarantined inmates are, Donahue said.  

The announcement comes the same day that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said the commonwealth would be working with local and federal correctional facilities in virus preparation, enforcing a no visitation policy in all VA prisons and local jails.

WATCH: Gov. Ralph Northam provides updates on correctional facility safety and small business plans for VA

Virginia's Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran said that the state is asking prosecutors and judges to consider "modifying sentences for crimes". including alternative measures like electronic home monitoring to help limit jail populations.

In Prince George's County, correctional facility workers and attorneys are working together to determine how to prevent jails from becoming breeding grounds to the disease.

State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy said she has worked with defense attorneys to come up with a list of at least 40 inmates with non-violent offense charges she can present to judges Thursday for reduced bail, sentence modifications or release orders.

"It's important for us to really ensure that those who are confined in our jail need to be there and those who can be released safely are released safely," Braveboy said. "We have to make tough decisions and we're making those decisions today."

When asked whether the District was considering releasing any prisoners as a precaution, Mayor Muriel Bowser answered with a swift no, and moved on to the next question.

D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said that MPD has expanded the criteria they will use to determine which arrestees are released on "citation pending a future court date." He said that his staff will be monitoring the lockup list, in an effort to bring fewer people to the court system. 

"The courts are really strained at the moment since they had a positive test," Newsham said. 

RELATED: 40 prisoners may be released early in Prince George's County as a coronavirus precaution

RELATED: Coronavirus live blog: Cases now in all 50 states and D.C., US death toll over 100

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