ST. PAUL (AP) -- The State Public Defender's Office is pushing for the release of jail inmates across Minnesota to protect them from the spread of the coronavirus.

Chief Public Defender Bill Ward sent an email to staffers Sunday asking them to get on board and demand that their clients be released.

Ward calls the jails a ``petridish'' of infection. The plea comes just days after an announcement that the courts will be postponing some cases, but not those that are high priority.

The Minnesota federal court system will implement broader measures, temporarily suspending all criminal and civil trials starting March 23 through April 27.

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