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The US state of California will release up to 8,000 prisoners to slow the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported referring to local authorities.

Spike in COVID-19 cases has been reported in several state prisons, and the state corrections department announced the release of prisoners by the end of August.

The release of prisoners is the state’s largest move to ease prisons and reduce the risks of transferring COVID-19 by freeing up space for social distancing and quarantine.

“These actions are taken to provide for the health and safety of the incarcerated population and staff,” California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Ralph Diaz noted.

Prisoners who have to be imprisoned for a year or less are subject to release. Persons who have committed serious crimes and crimes of a sexual nature are not subject to release.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said Thursday 2,400 people in 35 state prisons had tested positive for COVID-19.

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