ACLU Calls For Release Of Inmates After One Tests Positive For COVID-19

Apr 3, 2020, 5:44 AM | Updated: 12:22 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – An inmate at the Salt Lake County jail tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday.

According to county officials, the prisoner presented flu-like symptoms on March 31 and was immediately isolated in a negative pressure cell.

“Over the last three weeks, the jail has been preparing to handle COVID-19,” said Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera. “We want to assure the community who have loved ones working at or who are incarcerated in our facility that we are doing all we can to prevent the spread.”

Based on physician recommendations, deputies transferred 51 prisoners who had contact with the infected inmate, in small groups, to the Metro Jail to be medically quarantined.

“It’s just not enough, not quickly enough,” said John Mejia, legal director for Utah’s ACLU. “We need our jails as empty as possible. We filed an emergency petition directly to the Utah Supreme Court on behalf of all incarcerated people in the state of Utah.”

Members of the civil rights group that filed the petition are asking for the release of those defendants serving sentences with fewer than 180 days, prisoners at high risk for medical complications, and those inmates awaiting trial.

“All who are incarcerated need free soap and free hand sanitizer,” Mejia said. “There is a concern that if there is alcohol in the sanitizer it should’t be allowed, but that concern needs to be set aside.”

Mejia said he understands there is a public safety concern. He said the petition is written to address that issue.

“We have asked the court to appoint a special master to thoroughly look at each situation,” Mejia said. “We are hoping there will be a quick release of as many people as possible.”

In the past few weeks, hundreds of offenders have been released by judges at the request of individual defense lawyers.

Those in Salt Lake County who have been allowed to leave were considered nonviolent, according to defense attorneys.

The deadline for response to the lawsuit is April 13.


KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus Utah

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 09: A pharmacist prepares to administer  COVID-19 vaccine booster sho...
Jed Boal

University Health recommends getting omicron booster and flu shot now

The CDC approved the COVID-19 bivalent boosters that target the most recent omicron variants on September 1. Since then, tens of thousands of Utahns have rolled up their sleeves.
2 months ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
Jed Boal

Despite reaching 5,000 deaths, Utah’s COVID-19 numbers are down

The director of the World Health Organization said yesterday about COVID-19, “the end is in sight,” even if we are not there yet.
3 months ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
LAURA UNGAR AP Science Writer

Is COVID-19 winding down? Scientists say no

New booster shots have arrived and social distancing guidelines have eased but COVID-19 infections aren't going away anytime soon. Experts predict the scourge that's already lasted longer than the 1918 flu pandemic will linger far into the future as the virus continues to cause deaths and may well mutate or evolve into a new disease.
3 months ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...

US clears updated COVID boosters targeting newest variants

U.S. clears updated COVID-19 boosters targeting the newest omicron strain; shots could begin within days.
3 months ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
Jed Boal

Updated COVID-19 boosters likely available next month as ‘twindemic’ fears emerge

Concerns about a potential surge in COVID-19 and the flu at the same time this fall are emerging again. Each of the last two years, warnings about a so-called “twindemic” did not materialize, but this year could be different.
4 months ago
FILE: Davis School District....
Mike Anderson

Davis School District adds resources to handle COVID-19

The Davis School District is shifting their approach to COVID, putting more decisions in the hands of parents while getting more funds to help monitor the virus.
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
ACLU Calls For Release Of Inmates After One Tests Positive For COVID-19