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COVID-19 cases in Dallas County jail reaches 17, report shows

The amount of positive coronavirus cases in the county jail has more than tripled since last Wednesday.
Local 24 Generic – Jail Bars Crime

An online report released Tuesday by Dallas County Health and Human Services shows the number of COVID-19 cases in jail has now reached 17. 

Last week, on March 25, officials confirmed five Dallas County jail inmates had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

It's unclear how the first inmate got the disease. He has been in jail since December and was held in a pod with 50 others, according to the Dallas County Sheriff's Office. 

In a news conference last week, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins assured families of Dallas County inmates that people are housed separately. 

"The fact that your loved one is in jail does not mean they're going to get COVID," Jenkins said. 

Two days ago, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a new executive order that bans the release of "dangerous felons" from Texas prisons and jails.

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The governor said he wants to reduce and contain the spread of novel coronavirus in jails and prisons for the benefit of the inmates and the staff. 

Abbott said he has been working with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to work toward this – but releasing "dangerous criminals" makes Texas even less safe and doesn't slow the spread of the virus.

"Releasing dangerous criminals from jails into the streets is not the right solution. Doing so is now prohibited by law by this declaration," Abbott said.

On Monday night during a Zoom news conference, Jenkins said non-violent drug offenders should be in jail right now. 

He also stated he wants a tool to keep dangerous inmates in custody but safe.

Abbott's executive order remains in effect until further notice. 

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