FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — A concerned mother is making a passionate plea for her son to be released from the Broward County Jail after she says he tested positive for COVID-19.

At a Fort Lauderdale news conference Saturday, Nereeda Ortiz said her son Raul Ponce, 21, learned of his positive result on Friday.

Ortiz said she and her son are now working with attorney Jim Lewis to have him released due to his asthma and other pre-existing medical conditions that could make the virus deadly for him.

“This jail, I’m not the first person to say this, but is a petri dish,” said Lewis. “There’s no way in here to keep inmates segregated, if one or two inmates gets it, this whole jail is going to get it as we’ve seen in other correctional institutions. But, we’re here today because this can’t wait until Monday.”

Lewis says he wants Ponce to be allowed to go home and live with his mother on house arrest or be admitted to a hospital for treatment.

Ponce is in jail on burglary and racketeering charges, according to court records.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office says when it comes to the release of inmates, it is following the guidelines set by the judicial branch of government.

A statement released by BSO Saturday reads in part, “An inmate who has tested positive will be medical isolated, treated and monitored in accordance with the Florida Department of Health and CDC guidelines. All inmates personal health information are confidential and protected by law.”

Due to those confidentiality laws, BSO has not confirmed that Ponce has tested positive COVID-19.

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BSO also says it is screening staff, vendors, and inmates. It has also temporarily cancelled visitors and volunteers from entering the facilities. Professional and personal visits are being conducted through off-site video visitation.  They are also sharing information from the CDC to the staff and inmates to ensure best hygiene practices, as well as, to encourage social distancing.

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