The number of inmates in the Los Angeles County jail system has been reduced by 3,500 in an attempt to reduce the risk of a mass exposure of the coronavirus, it was announced Tuesday.

Many of those released were awaiting trial, according to Los Angeles County Public Defender Ricardo D. Garcia.

“We all know too well this is a matter of life and death,” Garcia said during Tuesday’s Los Angeles County press briefing.

“As we think of the extraordinary precautions we are all taking, physical distancing, wearing masks, and constantly washing our hands, and remaining at home, we must remember that right now thousands of people are trapped in close quarters with no ability to take these basic precautions in order to protect themselves.”

The Public Defender’s Office also announced it was working to reduce the number of juveniles being held in camps and halls by allowing some of them to be placed under house arrest.

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