MACON, Ga. — Images of inmates lying on the floor and not social distancing have been going around on social media over the weekend. 13WMAZ confirmed Monday that the photos were taken from inside the Bibb County jail.
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis confirmed the photos were taken from inside the jail in one of two pods for inmates to quarantine before being able to access the rest of the jail.
Pamela Cabiness received the photo taken from inside the jail and decided to post it on our 13WMAZ Facebook page.
"It doesn't look good for inmates to be laying on floors and on tables," Cabiness said.
Soon after, other people began sharing photos from inside the jail, including one showing over 20 inmates lying on the floor, not social distancing, and some appearing not to be wearing masks.
With the pods being a place for people to quarantine so they don't expose other inmates, 13WMAZ asked if it was a risk putting inmates together with no social distancing.
Sheriff Davis explained, "It is a risk, but it is a jail facility. These people are checked. You're going to have close quarters in a jail facility like this."
Davis says inmates stay in these quarantining areas for 10 days.
"We certainly don't ever want to have inmates on the floor, but it's something that is an inconvenience for a few days until we can get past this isolation period, this quarantine period, and make sure they're not bringing any type of COVID into the jail," Davis said.
He says if any inmate has symptoms, they are immediately taken to a space where they are completely isolated. Davis credits their protocol for having only 10 positive COVID-19 cases among inmates since the start of the pandemic.
"We average 800 inmates, and considering the thousands that have booked in and out of our jail over the last year, that's pretty phenomenal," said Davis.
Davis says deputies are required to wear masks. Inmates, however, are not.
Sheriff Davis said, "We try to get as many masks as we can and they're getting pretty prevalent now, but when you have everyone in a common area and no one is exhibiting symptoms, and we don't have any reason to believe that anyone does have COVID, then it's just there. We really don't need masks."
Davis says they created this protocol based on Department of Public Health and CDC guidelines. He says they have also conferenced with other sheriff's offices in the area to model their rules.
According to Davis, those quarantining rooms are less crowded now. Over the last couple of days, he says they have been able to move inmates to the general area after they quarantined for 10 days. He also says masks are available when inmates have symptoms or if they've been exposed to COVID-19.