Below are stories or links to information concerning the COVID-19 Coronavius for the citizens of Clinch, Atkinson, Lanier, and Echols counties, provided and organized by your community newspaper (Clinch County News, Atkinson County Citizen, Lanier County Advocate, and Echols County Echo). We will update information as it becomes available, but you are welcome to add to this page by adding info in the comment section.
• Kemp, Georgia to end shelter-in-place tonight, except for certain Georgians at risk
Gov. Brian Kemp will release most Georgians from the state’s shelter-in-place order after Thursday night except for people ages 65 and older, seniors living in long-term care facilities and persons with certain chronic health issues, the governor announced Thursday afternoon.
Older persons and the chronically ill, who health officials have stressed are most at risk for harmful effects from coronavirus, must remain sheltered-in-place through June 12.
Also on Thursday, Kemp outlined a series of social-distancing restrictions that Georgia businesses will need to continue following in the coming weeks, depending on the type of business. As it stands, those restrictions are poised to be lifted on 11:59 p.m. May 13.
Strict distancing rules limiting the number of customers and requiring vigorous sanitizing measures will remain in effect through May 13 for dine-in restaurants, gyms, barbershops and many other close-quarter establishments that were allowed to reopen as of Monday.
Bars, nightclubs, swimming pools and amusement parks will have to remain closed through May 13, after which they may also reopen unless Kemp moves to extend closure orders.
Georgians with chronic health conditions that the governor’s office listed are subject to the June 12 shelter-in-place order include those with chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, severe heart disease, immunocompromised conditions, class III or severe obesity, and patients with diabetes, liver disease or chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis.
For many Georgia residents and businesses, Kemp’s move Thursday looks to pare back a host of mandatory closures and restrictions on physical interactions that many health experts have credited with slowing the spread of coronavirus, but which have also prompted severely negative consequences for the state’s economy.
In a video Thursday, the governor reiterated he is basing the decision to lift most restrictions on encouraging data trends that show declining coronavirus transmission rates as well as efforts in recent weeks to ready hundreds of hospital beds for use during patient surge periods.
“The health and well-being of Georgians are my top priorities, and my decisions are based on data and advice from health officials,” Kemp said. “I will do what is necessary to protect the lives and livelihoods of our people.”
At a news conference Monday, the governor said the state largely has been following federal guidelines for deciding when to let businesses reopen, while also weighing input from local health officials and the dire financial situation facing many business owners who have been shuttered for weeks.
Hundreds of thousands of Georgians have been out of work since March with nearly 1.4 million workers and their employers having filed unemployment claims as of last week, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday. The state budget is expected to be billions of dollars in the hole due to a steep drop in recent tax revenues.
On Monday, the state’s public health commissioner, Dr. Kathleen Toomey, said Georgia is on track to see a “plateauing” of positive COVID-19 cases, even though the state had not met all the federal guidelines for allowing businesses to reopen. She noted cases of reported flu-like illnesses as well as hospitalizations have been declining and that positive cases have fallen “as a percentage of total tests.”
“We will continue to closely monitor the data to ensure these encouraging patterns we are seeing continue to improve,” Toomey said in a video Monday night.
Many local health experts have shown skepticism toward relying on models published and updated daily on the state Department of Public Health’s website. They have pointed to other models and studies, some compiled by local university researchers, that indicate Georgia could see a flare-up in coronavirus outbreaks if social restrictions are lifted sooner rather than later.
One study, released this week by the University of Georgia’s Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases, estimated that relaxing the social distancing measures in place since March could cause an additional 1,500 deaths from coronavirus in Georgia, plus tens of thousands more cases.
Another modeling tool, created by researchers at Georgia Tech and Harvard Medical School, predicts a second wave of COVID-19 cases and deaths could soon hit Georgia if social restrictions are loosened.
Meanwhile, Georgia Democratic leaders and lawmakers blasted Kemp on social media and in news releases Thursday afternoon. Sen. Nikema Williams, who chairs the Democratic Party of Georgia, accused the governor of “playing a dangerous game” with his decision Thursday.
“It is reckless and irresponsible for Kemp to use Georgians as the guinea pigs in a public health experiment that will go wrong,” said Williams, D-Atlanta. “Today’s decision will have consequences — for our overworked health systems, for our struggling essential workers, and for our lives.” – by Beau Evans, Capitol Beat News Service
• COVID-19 Symptoms List Expanded: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently expanded the list of common COVID-19 symptoms. Now in addition to fever, cough, and shortness of breath, other common symptoms include chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell. Additionally, test kits now are more plentiful, and laboratories can process more tests.
It only takes a few minutes to go through COVID-19 testing, and in a few days, you should have the results. It is important that you monitor your health for the symptoms stated above. If you believe that you have fever, cough or at least two of the other common symptoms, you should call your local healthcare provider to schedule an appointment for COVID-19 testing.
The capacity for COVID-19 testing in Georgia has greatly increased in recent days. Testing is available through public health drive-through testing sites, private providers, National Guard testing sites, federally qualified health care centers, among others.
Testing is available through the Southeast Health District for free if you meet eligibility criteria. The Southeast Health District serves Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Bulloch, Candler, Charlton, Clinch, Coffee, Evans, Jeff Davis, Pierce, Tattnall, Toombs, Ware & Wayne counties. Call the Southeast Health District’s call center number at 1-855-473-4374 to schedule a brief screening and a free appointment for testing at a drive-through testing site. The call center takes calls for COVID-19 scheduling Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Right now, all symptomatic Georgians can take advantage of this resource, and we ask that anyone who is experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to act. Always follow prevention measures such as covering your cough, sneezing into a tissue and staying home if you are sick. Do your part in keeping our communities safe by getting tested for COVID-19. Together, we can slow the spread of this pandemic.
• State board sets guidelines for reopening barbershops, hair salons: A frequently asked question since Gov. Brian Kemp announced some businesses will be allowed to reopen in Georgia this Friday is how people are supposed to get a haircut while practicing social distancing.
The Georgia Board of Cosmetology and Barbers has addressed that issue by releasing a set of guidelines the state’s barbershops and hair salons should follow that combines social distancing with screening, cleaning and the use of personal protective equipment.
“Under our sanitation laws and rules, we are charged with the responsibility of protecting consumers from the spread of contagious diseases everyday in our salons,” board Chairman Kay Kendrick said in a prepared statement. “By adding the safety guidelines that have been developed by the board and some of our industry leaders in the cosmetology and barber profession, we feel that our professionals will be able to do an even better job of protecting themselves and their clients.”
While common sense dictates a barber or hair stylist cannot remain at least six feet from a customer, the guidelines require employees to wear masks at all times and suggest shops consider providing masks to customers. Also, customers should wear masks “to the extent possible” while receiving services.
The guidelines also suggest shops use touchless infrared thermometers to take the temperature of employees each day and of customers entering the premises. Shops should additionally screen customers by asking them whether they have experienced a cough or fever or been near anyone exhibiting these symptoms within the last 14 days.
Shops also should consider seeing customers by appointment only and limit the number of customers in their waiting areas.
All shops should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before reopening. Shops should then maintain regular disinfection of all tools, shampoo bowls, pedicure bowls, work stations, treatment rooms, and restrooms.
“As we begin the process of safely reopening our economy, it is critical that business owners, operators, and contractors adhere strictly to increased safety and sanitation guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Kemp, whose reopening announcement drew criticism both inside Georgia and nationally, particularly over reopening barbershops and hair salons. “Working together, I am confident that we can get these sectors back online and work to ensure the health and safety of all Georgians.”
– By Dave Williams, Capitol Beat News Service
• Health District says people who went to funeral in Homerville may have been exposed to COVID-19: If you or someone you know have recently attended a funeral at Fluker Funeral Home in Homerville on April 4, 2020, you may have been exposed to COVID-19.
You should monitor your health for fever, cough or shortness of breath for 14 days from the last time you attended a funeral at that location. You should not go to work and should avoid public places during that period of time.
If you get sick with fever, cough or shortness of breath, please contact your local health department, primary care provider, urgent care center or Federally Qualified Health Center and tell them you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. They may want to monitor you more closely or test you for COVID-19.
• State opens up COVID-19 testing: The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is increasing the number of specimen collection sites statewide for COVID-19 testing, and is revising the current testing criteria to accommodate more testing of Georgia residents.
Effective immediately, all symptomatic individuals will be eligible for COVID-19 testing. Health care workers, first responders, law enforcement and long-term care facility residents and staff will still be prioritized for testing regardless of whether they are or are not symptomatic.
Referrals are still required, however, there are now two ways to be referred to a DPH specimen collection site:
Local Health Department
Individuals who meet COVID-19 testing criteria may now be referred to DPH specimen collection sites by contacting their local health department. They will be screened by appropriate health department staff and referred to the closest, most convenient specimen collection site. Contact information for local health departments can be found on the DPH homepage at https://dph.georgia.gov/, under COVID-19 in Georgia.
Health Care Provider Referral
Health care providers and/or physicians can and should continue to refer patients for COVID-19 testing.
People should not arrive unannounced or without a scheduled appointment at a specimen collection site, hospital, emergency room or other health care facility. Only individuals who have been evaluated by public health or a health care provider and assigned a PUI # number will be referred to these drive-thru sites.
Together we can stop further spread of COVID-19 in our state and save lives.
Stay home – the Governor has issued a shelter-in-place Executive Order that should be observed by all residents and visitors.
Practice social distancing – keep at least 6 feet between yourself and other people.
Wash your hands – use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60% alcohol) if soap and water aren’t readily available.
Wear a mask – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the use of face masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19, especially where socials distancing is difficult to maintain (grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.), and especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
For more information about COVID-19 https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
For updates on the COVID-19 situation as it develops, follow @GaDPH, @GeorgiaEMA, and @GovKemp on Twitter and @GaDPH, @GEMA.OHS, and @GovKemp on Facebook.
• CITY RELEASES GUIDELINES FOR SEASONAL WORKERS IN CITY RETAIL ESTABLISHMENTS: The City of Homerville released a list of “best practices” for seasonal workers utilizing retail businesses this spring during the Coronavirus crisis:
• FIVE CONFIRMED CASES IN CLINCH COUNTY: There are now (April 9) five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Clinch County, according to local health officials. The two newest cases were confirmed yesterday (April 8).
• Below are “essential workers” according to Georgia’s shelter-in-place directive:
HEALTHCARE / PUBLIC HEALTH
• Workers providing COVID-19 testing; Workers that perform critical clinical research needed for COVID-19 response
• Caregivers (e.g., physicians, dentists, psychologists, mid-level practitioners, nurses and assistants, infection control and quality assurance personnel, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists and assistants, social workers, speech pathologists and diagnostic and therapeutic technicians and technologists)
• Hospital and laboratory personnel (including accounting, administrative, admitting and discharge, engineering, epidemiological, source plasma and blood donation, food service, housekeeping, medical records, information technology and operational technology, nutritionists, sanitarians, respiratory therapists, etc.)
• Workers in other medical facilities (including Ambulatory Health and Surgical, Blood Banks, Clinics, Community Mental Health, Comprehensive Outpatient rehabilitation, End Stage Renal Disease, Health Departments, Home Health care, Hospices, Hospitals, Long Term Care, Organ Pharmacies, Procurement Organizations, Psychiatric Residential, Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers)
• Manufacturers, technicians, logistics and warehouse operators, and distributors of medical equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE), medical gases, pharmaceuticals, blood and blood products, vaccines, testing materials, laboratory supplies, cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting or sterilization supplies, and tissue and paper towel products
• Public health / community health workers, including those who compile, model, analyze and communicate public health information
• Blood and plasma donors and the employees of the organizations that operate and manage related activities
• Workers that manage health plans, billing, and health information, who cannot practically work remotely
• Workers who conduct community-based public health functions, conducting epidemiologic surveillance, compiling, analyzing and communicating public health information, who cannot practically work remotely
• Workers performing cybersecurity functions at healthcare and public health facilities, who cannot practically work remotely
• Workers conducting research critical to COVID-19 response
• Workers performing security, incident management, and emergency operations functions at or on behalf of healthcare entities including healthcare coalitions, who cannot practically work remotely
• Workers who support food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals, such as those residing in shelters
• Pharmacy employees necessary for filling prescriptions
• Workers performing mortuary services, including funeral homes, crematoriums, and cemetery workers
• Workers who coordinate with other organizations to ensure the proper recovery, handling, identification, transportation, tracking, storage, and disposal of human remains and personal effects; certify cause of death; and facilitate access to mental/behavioral health services to the family members, responders, and survivors of
LAW ENFORCEMENT, PUBLIC SAFETY, FIRST RESPONDERS
• Personnel in emergency management, law enforcement, Emergency Management Systems, fire, and corrections, including front line and management
• Emergency Medical Technicians
• 911 call center employees
• Fusion Center employees
• Hazardous material responders from government and the private sector.
• Workers – including contracted vendors — who maintain digital systems infrastructure supporting law enforcement and emergency service operations.
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
• Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies and other retail that sells food and beverage products
• Restaurant carry-out and quick serve food operations – Carry-out and delivery food employees
• Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees—to include those employed in food processing (packers, meat processing, cheese plants, milk plants, produce, etc.) facilities; livestock, poultry, seafood slaughter facilities; pet and animal feed processing facilities; human food facilities producing by-products for animal food; beverage production facilities; and the production of food packaging
• Farm workers to include those employed in animal food, feed, and ingredient production, packaging, and
distribution; manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of veterinary drugs; truck delivery and transport; farm and fishery labor needed to produce our food supply domestically
• Farm workers and support service workers to include those who field crops; commodity inspection; fuel ethanol facilities; storage facilities; and other agricultural inputs
• Employees and firms supporting food, feed, and beverage distribution, including warehouse workers, vendor managed inventory controllers and blockchain managers
• Workers supporting the sanitation of all food manufacturing processes and operations from wholesale to retail
• Company cafeterias – in-plant cafeterias used to feed employees
• Workers in food testing labs in private industries and in institutions of higher education
• Workers essential for assistance programs and government payments
• Employees of companies engaged in the production of chemicals, medicines, vaccines, and other substances used by the food and agriculture industry, including pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, minerals, enrichments, and other agricultural production aids
• Animal agriculture workers to include those employed in veterinary health; manufacturing and distribution of animal medical materials, animal vaccines, animal drugs, feed ingredients, feed, and bedding, etc.; transportation of live animals, animal medical materials; transportation of deceased animals for disposal; raising of animals for food; animal production operations; slaughter and packing plants and associated regulatory and government workforce
• Workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper, and other wood products
• Employees engaged in the manufacture and maintenance of equipment and other infrastructure necessary to agricultural production and distribution
• Workers who maintain, ensure, or restore the generation, transmission, and distribution of electric power, including call centers, utility workers, reliability engineers and fleet maintenance technicians
• Workers needed for safe and secure operations at nuclear generation
• Workers at generation, transmission, and electric blackstart facilities
• Workers at Reliability Coordinator (RC), Balancing Authorities (BA), and primary and backup Control Centers
(CC), including but not limited to independent system operators, regional transmission organizations, and balancing authorities
• Mutual assistance personnel
• IT and OT technology staff – for EMS (Energy Management Systems) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, and utility data centers; Cybersecurity engineers; cybersecurity risk management
• Vegetation management crews and traffic workers who support
• Environmental remediation/monitoring technicians
• Instrumentation, protection, and control technicians
• Petroleum product storage, pipeline, marine transport, terminals, rail transport, road transport
• Crude oil storage facilities, pipeline, and marine transport
• Petroleum refinery facilities
• Petroleum security operations center employees and workers who support emergency response services
• Petroleum operations control rooms/centers
• Petroleum drilling, extraction, production, processing, refining, terminal operations, transporting, and retail for use as end-use fuels or feedstocks for chemical manufacturing
• Onshore and offshore operations for maintenance and emergency response
• Retail fuel centers such as gas stations and truck stops, and the distribution systems that support them
Natural and propane gas workers
• Natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines, including compressor stations
• Underground storage of natural gas
• Natural gas processing plants, and those that deal with natural gas liquids
• Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facilities
• Natural gas security operations center, natural gas operations dispatch and control rooms/centers natural gas emergency response and customer emergencies, including natural gas leak calls
• Drilling, production, processing, refining, and transporting natural gas for use as end-use fuels, feedstocks for chemical manufacturing, or use in electricity generation
• Propane gas dispatch and control rooms and emergency response and customer emergencies, including propane leak calls
• Propane gas service maintenance and restoration, including call centers
• Processing, refining, and transporting natural liquids, including propane gas, for use as end-use fuels or feedstocks for chemical manufacturing
• Propane gas storage, transmission, and distribution centers
WATER AND WASTEWATER
Employees needed to operate and maintain drinking water and wastewater/drainage infrastructure, including:
• Operational staff at water authorities
• Operational staff at community water systems
• Operational staff at wastewater treatment facilities
• Workers repairing water and wastewater conveyances and performing required sampling or monitoring
• Operational staff for water distribution and testing
• Operational staff at wastewater collection facilities
• Operational staff and technical support for SCADA Control systems
• Chemical disinfectant suppliers for wastewater and personnel protection
• Workers that maintain digital systems infrastructure supporting water and wastewater operations
TRANSPORTATION AND LOGISTICS
• Employees supporting or enabling transportation functions, including dispatchers, maintenance and repair technicians, warehouse workers, truck stop and rest area workers, and workers that maintain and inspect infrastructure (including those that require cross-border travel)
• Employees of firms providing services that enable logistics operations, including cooling, storing, packaging, and distributing products for wholesale or retail sale or use.
• Mass transit workers
• Workers responsible for operating dispatching passenger, commuter and freight trains and maintaining rail infrastructure and equipment
• Maritime transportation workers – port workers, mariners, equipment operators
• Truck drivers who haul hazardous and waste materials to support critical infrastructure, capabilities, functions, and services
• Automotive repair and maintenance facilities
• Manufacturers and distributors (to include service centers and related operations) of packaging materials, pallets, crates, containers, and other supplies needed to support manufacturing, packaging staging and distribution operations
• Postal and shipping workers, to include private companies
• Employees who repair and maintain vehicles, aircraft, rail equipment, marine vessels, and the equipment and infrastructure that enables operations that encompass movement of cargo and passengers
• Air transportation employees, including air traffic controllers, ramp personnel, aviation security, and aviation management
• Workers who support the maintenance and operation of cargo by air transportation, including flight crews, maintenance, airport operations, and other on- and off- airport facilities workers
• Workers who support the operation, inspection, and maintenance of essential dams, locks and levees
• Workers who support the operation, inspection, and maintenance of essential public works facilities and operations, including bridges, water and sewer main breaks, fleet maintenance personnel, construction of critical or strategic infrastructure, traffic signal maintenance, emergency location services for buried utilities, maintenance of digital systems infrastructure supporting public works operations, and other emergent issues
• Workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
• Support, such as road and line clearing, to ensure the availability of needed facilities, transportation, energy and communications
• Support to ensure the effective removal, storage, and disposal of residential and commercial solid waste and hazardous waste
COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
• Maintenance of communications infrastructure- including privately owned and maintained communication systems- supported by technicians, operators, call-centers, wireline and wireless providers, cable service providers, satellite operations, undersea cable landing stations, Internet Exchange Points, and manufacturers and distributors of communications equipment
• Workers who support radio, television, and media service, including, but not limited to front line news reporters, studio, and technicians for newsgathering and reporting
• Workers at Independent System Operators and Regional Transmission Organizations, and Network Operations
staff, engineers and/or technicians to manage the network or operate facilities
• Engineers, technicians and associated personnel responsible for infrastructure construction and restoration, including contractors for construction and engineering of fiber optic cables
• Installation, maintenance and repair technicians that establish, support or repair service as needed
• Central office personnel to maintain and operate central office, data centers, and other network office facilities
• Customer service and support staff, including managed and professional services as well as remote providers of support to transitioning employees to set up and maintain home offices, who interface with customers to manage or support service environments and security issues, including payroll, billing, fraud, and troubleshooting
• Dispatchers involved with service repair and restoration
• Workers who support command centers, including, but not limited to Network Operations Command Center, Broadcast Operations Control Center and Security Operations Command Center
• Data center operators, including system administrators, HVAC & electrical engineers, security personnel, IT managers, data transfer solutions engineers, software and hardware engineers, and database administrators
• Client service centers, field engineers, and other technicians supporting critical infrastructure, as well as manufacturers and supply chain vendors that provide hardware and software, and information technology equipment (to include microelectronics and semiconductors) for critical infrastructure
• Workers responding to cyber incidents involving critical infrastructure, including medical facilities, SLTT governments and federal facilities, energy and utilities, and banks and financial institutions, and other critical infrastructure categories and personnel
• Workers supporting the provision of essential global, national and local infrastructure for computing services (incl. cloud computing services), business infrastructure, web-based services, and critical manufacturing
• Workers supporting communications systems and information technology used by law enforcement, public safety, medical, energy and other critical industries
• Support required for continuity of services, including janitorial/cleaning personnel
OTHER COMMUNITY-BASED GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS AND ESSENTIAL
• Workers to ensure continuity of building functions
• Security staff to maintain building access control and physical security measures
• Elections personnel
• Federal, State, and Local, Tribal, and Territorial employees who support Mission Essential Functions and communications networks
• Trade Officials (FTA negotiators; international data flow administrators)
• Weather forecasters
• Workers that maintain digital systems infrastructure supporting other critical government operations
• Workers at operations centers necessary to maintain other essential functions
• Workers who support necessary credentialing, vetting and licensing operations for transportation workers
• Customs workers who are critical to facilitating trade in support of the national emergency response supply chain
• Educators supporting public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing other essential functions, if operating under rules for social distancing
• Hotel Workers where hotels are used for COVID-19 mitigation and containment measures
• Workers necessary for the manufacturing of materials and products needed for medical supply chains, transportation, energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, the operation of dams, water and wastewater treatment, emergency services, and the defense industrial base.
• Workers at nuclear facilities, workers managing medical waste, workers managing waste from pharmaceuticals and medical material production, and workers at laboratories processing test kits
• Workers who support hazardous materials response and cleanup
• Workers who maintain digital systems infrastructure supporting hazardous materials management operations
• Workers who are needed to process and maintain systems for processing financial transactions and services (e.g., payment, clearing, and settlement; wholesale funding; insurance services; and capital markets activities)
• Workers who are needed to provide consumer access to banking and lending services, including ATMs, and to move currency and payments (e.g., armored cash carriers)
• Workers who support financial operations, such as those staffing data and security operations centers
• Workers supporting the chemical and industrial gas supply chains, including workers at chemical manufacturing plants, workers in laboratories, workers at distribution facilities, workers who transport basic raw chemical materials to the producers of industrial and consumer goods, including hand sanitizers, food and food additives, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and paper products.
• Workers supporting the safe transportation of chemicals, including those supporting tank truck cleaning facilities and workers who manufacture packaging items
• Workers supporting the production of protective cleaning and medical solutions, personal protective equipment, and packaging that prevents the contamination of food, water, medicine, among others essential products
• Workers supporting the operation and maintenance of facilities (particularly those with high risk chemicals and/ or sites that cannot be shut down) whose work cannot be done remotely and requires the presence of highly
trained personnel to ensure safe operations, including plant contract workers who provide inspections
• Workers who support the production and transportation of chlorine and alkali manufacturing, single-use plastics, and packaging that prevents the contamination or supports the continued manufacture of food, water, medicine, and other essential products, including glass container manufacturing
DEFENSE INDUSTRIAL BASE
• Workers who support the essential services required to meet national security commitments to the federal government and U.S. Military. These individuals, include but are not limited to, aerospace; mechanical and software engineers, manufacturing/production workers; IT support; security staff; security personnel; intelligence support, aircraft and weapon system mechanics and maintainers
• Personnel working for companies, and their subcontractors, who perform under contract to the Department of Defense providing materials and services to the Department of Defense, and government-owned/contractor operated and government-owned/government-operated facilities
• Clinch County now has two Coronavirus cases: Clinch now has two confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Nearly two weeks after its first COVID-19 Coronavirus confirmation was announced, Clinch County now has a second confirmed case. The state Department of Health included the second case on its latest status report (see link below).
Meanwhile, nearby Lanier County also has one case (announced yesterday), and Atkinson and Echols counties remain as two of 17 Georgia counties without a confirmed case of the virus.
The News hopes to have more details on the latest Clinch case later today.
• County order includes ‘Voluntary Stay Safe at Home’ policy: Today at noon, a “Local Emergency Management Purpose Order” went into effect for all of Clinch County, implementing a “Voluntary Stay Safe at Home” policy.
The order was signed by Clinch County Commission Chairman Roger Mettts, and went into effect today (March 31) at noon, and will end at noon on April 30.
The order implements:
• A “Voluntary Stay Safe at Home” policy.
This requests that individuals “not loiter, wander, stroll or plan in any public place” unless there is an emergency; they are travelling to or from work; engaged in vehicular travel; walking or running for fitness purposes; or getting food or medicine.
• A prohibition on gatherings of more than 10 people, except in the cases of an office, childcare facility, residential building or shelter, hospital or health care facility, or grocery store, or retail establishment.
• All indoor facilities for recreational or entertainment purposes be closed.
The county order doesn’t include any punishment if the order is violated.
The order is similar to an emergency ordinances passed last week by the cities of Homerville and Fargo. The Homerville City Council’s ordinance, though, included a10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew, with exceptions.
• Coronavirus prompts Georgia school officials to drop final tests, other rules: Georgia school officials took steps Thursday to scrap final exams and relax a wide range of other accountability rules for the state’s nearly two million public-school students who have been out of class since last week due to the impacts of coronavirus.
The action Thursday came shortly before Gov. Brian Kemp ordered Georgia’s public schools to remain closed through April 24. The governor previously had ordered schools to stay closed through March 30.
A series of waivers approved Thursday will allow the more than 2,200 public and state schools to be exempted from 18 different requirements under state law such as the Milestone test and other student exams, teacher performance evaluations and course curriculum for the current school year.
The waivers also give local school districts more freedom to set formal class sizes that dictate state funding allocations and more leeway on how districts can spend their budgets.
Members of the state Board of Education unanimously approved the waivers at their monthly meeting Thursday, which was conducted over the phone.
School districts across Georgia totaling around 1.7 million students have been closed since last Monday under Kemp’s order. His executive order Thursday extended the original April 1 return date by roughly another three weeks.
Kemp is scheduled to host a televised town hall Thursday night at 8 p.m. to discuss the state’s response to coronavirus.
Speaking Thursday, State Superintendent Richard Woods said school systems have done well adapting to the challenge of keeping students healthy and engaged with virtual learning and remote meal programs.
“These past few weeks have been unique, but a lot of great things have been going on,” Woods said.
The board’s action Thursday came after U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced last week state school superintendents can seek exemptions from year-end tests, teacher evaluations and other measures that are normally required for states to secure federal education funding.
Kemp also gave the state school board authority to approve the waivers as part of his emergency powers that the General Assembly granted him earlier this month.
You can see order at: Here
• Kemp announces closure of K-12 public schools until April 24: Governor Brian P. Kemp issued Executive Order 03.26.20.02 closing public elementary and secondary schools for in-person instruction through April 24, 2020. Students may return to school on Monday, April 27, 2020.
“I am deeply grateful to State School Superintendent Richard Woods, the Georgia Department of Education, superintendents, and parents for keeping us informed and helping us make the right decision for our students,” said Governor Kemp. “Throughout this process, we will continue to seek the advice of public health officials, school leaders, and families to ensure the health and safety of the educational community. As we approach April 24, 2020, we ask for continued patience and flexibility since circumstances may change, but we encourage families to stay strong and follow the guidance of federal, state, and local leaders in the weeks ahead.”
The University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia will remain closed for in-person instruction through the rest of the semester since students have already transitioned to all online learning
• Message from City of Homerville concerning Governor Kemp’s executive order:
The City of Homerville has the best interest of our citizens in mind as we work to keep our people safe and stop the spread of the coronavirus. In his press conference yesterday Governor Kemp announced measures to close all bars and clubs and ban all gatherings of ten or more people unless they can assure spacing for at least 6 feet apart between people at all times beginning at noon on March 24, 2020 and lasting until noon on April 6, 2020.
• Lakeland City Council approves Emergency Ordinance, creating curfew: At an emergency meeting Monday morning, the Lakeland City Council approved an Emergency Ordinance, creating a curfew from 9 p.m.-5 a.m. for Lakeland citizens, and criteria for businesses within the city limits. The Advocate will have a full story in tomorrow’s edition. Here is the Emergency Ordinance that was approved:
EMERGENCY ORDINANCE OF THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF LAKELAND, GEORGIA DECLARING LOCAL PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY RESULTING FROM THE PROLIFERATION OF THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID- 19)
WHEREAS, the President of the United States declared a National Public Health Emergency on Friday March 13, 2020; and
WHEREAS, the Governor of the State of Georgia declared a Public Health State of Emergency in Georgia on March 14, 2020 and the Georgia General Assembly concurred with the Governor’ s declaration on March 16, 2020; and
WHEREAS, a “Public health emergency” is defined by O.C.G.A. §31-12-1.1 as follows: “the occurrence or imminent threat of an illness or health condition that is reasonably believed to be caused by bioterrorism or the appearance of a novelor previously controlled or eradicated infectious agentor biological toxin and poses a high probability of any of the following harms:
(A) A large number of deaths in the affected population; (B) A large number of serious or long-term disabilities in the affected population; or (C) Widespread exposure to an infectious or toxic agent that poses a significant risk of substantial future harm to a large number of people in the affected population.; and
WHEREAS, the Charter of the City of Lakeland, in Sections 1.13(g) and 2.24(a) provides that the City may adopt an emergency ordinance in order “to meet a public emergency affecting life, health, property or public peace …;”
WHEREAS, the City of Lakeland finds it necessary to take multiple measures to reduce the risk of community transmission, including the restrictions to certain private and public facilities, for a period of thirty (30) days henceforth, and cancelling certain public meetings and gatherings; and
WHEREAS, additional measures may be required in the coming days and weeks to address the fluid situation and such measures will likely need to be executed quickly and free of the usual formalities and procedures required for City action.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOVLED, and it is hereby resolved, by the City Council of the City of Lakeland, Georgia as follows:
Section 1: The City Council adopts and makes the findings discussed in the” Whereas” paragraphs
the factual findings of the Council.
Section 2: The City Council hereby declares a Public Health State of Emergency in the City of Lakeland due to the proliferation of COVID- 19 in the United States and the State of Georgia.
Section 3: The following provisions shall govern during the Public Health State of Emergency
- The City Council and all other boards, commissions or agencies of the City, shall have authority to conduct meetings and take votes by teleconference in accordance with O.C.G.A. 50-14-1(g);
- The Mayor shall have authority to take such actions deemed necessary or appropriate for the public health and safety of the citizens of the City of Lakeland including the closure of City facilities;
- Restaurants and other eating and dining establishments where food is served must cease offering dine-in services, but may continue preparing and offering food to customers via delivery, drive-through or take-out services. Patrons, employees and contractors of the establishments must maintain at least six (6) feet of personal distance between themselves as much as possible given the physical constraints of the premises. If a restaurant is licensed to sell beer and wine for on-premises consumption, such restaurant, during the effective dates of this Emergency Ordinance only, shall be authorized to sell unopened bottles of beer or wine for take-out consumption off-premises;
- Gyms and fitness centers shall close;
- All public and private gatherings of more than ten (10) people occurring outside a household or living unit are prohibited. Nothing in this Order, however, prohibits the gathering of individuals for the purposes of carrying on business activity or the provision of medical or health services.
Section 4.A curfew is imposed from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. effective immediately. Residents, unless “exempt individuals” as defined herein, shall remain in their homes or on their property. Exempt individuals include those individuals engaged in the provision of designated, essential services, such as (1) fire; (2) law enforcement; (3) medical and hospital services; (4) military services; (5) utility emergency repairs; (6) persons seeking emergency medical services or hospital services; (7) individuals traveling to and from their jobs with appropriate identification; (8) individuals engaged in the delivery of food, medicine, medical supplies, fuel including but not limited to the re-stocking of grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores; and (8) news media employees.
Section 5: All violations of this emergency ordinance shall be punished as provided in the City of Lakeland Charter and Code of Ordinance with fines up to $1,000.00 or confinement up to 180 days. All offenses shall be adjudicated in the Lakeland Municipal Court.
Section 6: All ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict with the provisions of this Resolution are hereby suspended during the effective dates of this Resolution (or any extension thereof) and
the terms and provisions of this Resolution shall prevail.
Section 7: This Ordinance shall take effect upon passage by the City Council and shall expire by
its own terms at 11: 59 p.m. on April 22, 2020, as provided by Section 2.24 of the Charter, unless terminated or extended by further action of the City Council.
• Clinch County man conformed for COVID-19. (March 21)
A Clinch County man has been confirmed positive for the Coronavirus COVID-19.
The test was confirmed Friday night, according to a press release from Clinch Memorial Hospital.
Clinch Memorial Hospital CEO Angela Ammons said the man (who is in his early 50s and in good health) used the hospitals’ drive-thru screening station on March 17. The test kit returned the results Friday evening.
“This person was not hospitalized and the source of their exposure is not known,” said Ammons. “The person is a resident of Clinch County and is currently at home, under self-quarantine. Their physician has reported to us that they show only mild symptoms and appear to be recovering. The only contact that this person had with our staff was limited to the drive-thru screening station, where our staff took a swab for purposes of the testing and they were in full personal protective equipment.”
The positive test for the coronavirus is the first in Clinch County. Ammons said the hospital has conducted 15 tests. She said the hospital ordered 300 more testing kits, but only received 10. With so few tests available locally, Ammons urged residents to practice social distancing and only seek testing when showing symptoms of the virus.
“All of us need to practice social distancing and do our part to help slow the spread of the virus, and to lower the risk to our most at-risk citizens: those with prior conditions and the elderly,” she said. “This is all the more important when, as is the case, we can’t test every single person. That’s just not realistic. Our suppliers can not keep up with the demand in the nation. Our orders for personal protective equipment have been rejected and we currently do not know when we will get new shipments in. Our frontline medical staff are committed to serving the public and to meet the needs of those who are sick, so please be kind to them as we are facing unprecedented times.”
Symptoms for the coronavirus include fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. See more about symptoms of the virus at:https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.
Keep up with updates about COVID-19, local announcements, and more at the South Georgia Coronavirus Informational Page, set up last week by this newspaper: South Georgia Coronavius Informational Page.
• CMH video: No cases of COVID-19 in Clinch County as of this morning (March 20). See more on video.
• Offices in the Clinch County Courthouse will have limited access starting Monday, March 23. Employees will still be working, but you’ll need to call at one of the below numbers to get in touch:
• Jesus & Jam will be distributing food boxes Sunday from 2-4 p.m. at the Jesus & Jam Community Center on Hampton Street.
Below is the school system’s schedule for next week. They will be distributing lunches next week to local children.
• Two die from coronavirus at Phoebe Putney in Albany
By Beau Evans
Capitol Beat News Service
Two people in Southwest Georgia have died after contracting coronavirus and receiving treatment at a local hospital in Albany, hospital officials confirmed Wednesday.
The deaths increase the total number of known fatalities traced to COVID-19 to three in Georgia so far. The state Department of Health reported 197 positive cases have been confirmed within 28 counties across the state as of noon Wednesday.
The two deceased patients were being treated at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, which has seen an influx of coronavirus cases in recent days. In a news release, hospital officials said 23 people have tested positive for the respiratory virus as of noon Wednesday while more than 400 others are awaiting the results of their tests.
The hospital’s chief medical officer, Steven Kitchen, said to expect more positive cases and deaths as the virus spreads within Georgia communities.
“Unfortunately, more deaths are likely to occur, and we will certainly see more positive cases as we receive more test results,” Kitchen said. “We strongly urge everyone to heed warnings and practice proper social distancing. We need to do all we can now to try to slow the spread of the virus.”
Hospitals and senior-care facilities across the state are encountering serious challenges as they work to isolate potentially infected persons and face dwindling supplies of single-use equipment like gloves, gowns and masks.
The workforce demands involved in treating patients – and in a few cases health-care staff – infected with the virus have started to tax many Georgia hospitals. The nonprofit WellStar Health System has been screening, testing and treating patients among its 11 hospitals. One patient, a 67-year-old man with underlying health conditions, died last week at WellStar’s Kennestone hospital in Marietta.
In Rome, Redmond Regional Medical Center has treated five patients with coronavirus, two of whom have returned home, and as of Tuesday afternoon was awaiting test results for 20 other patients. Cases have also been confirmed outside metro Atlanta at hospitals in Cartersville and Augusta.
Other hospitals that have not seen any positive cases of coronavirus have begun gearing up for the increased demands on supplies that could come with patient treatment. Those hospitals preparing for cases range from Tift Regional Medical Center in Tifton to Habersham Medical Center in Demorest to the large Memorial Health in Savannah.
Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday the state expects to ramp up diagnostic testing to 200 tests per day, aided by a boost in tests from commercial labs. The governor has also directed health officials to pump thousands of gowns, masks and other supplies into local hospitals by tapping into the national stockpile.
Doctors and public health specialists are urging people with symptoms of the virus to first call their personal doctor, the local health department or an urgent care center before driving to the emergency room. The impromptu ER visits reduces medical supplies and stresses the healthcare sector’s already overtaxed workforce.
“Not every individual who wants to get tested can be tested because of limited supplies,” said Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the state public health commissioner. “We want to test those individuals at highest risk.”
• Clinch County Public Library is closed: The Okefenokee Regional Library System has closed its libraries, which includes the Clinch County Public Library. Their intent is to reopen on Monday, March 30, 2020 unless the CDC recommends a longer closure time frame.
• All SEC athletic events cancelled, including G-Day and spring football: The University of Georgia’s annual G-Day game scheduled for Saturday, April 18, 2020, has been officially cancelled following action taken by the Southeastern Conference Tuesday afternoon.
“The Bulldog Nation is fully focused on the health and well-being of everyone,” said UGA J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity. “By strictly following the guidelines of local, state and federal authorities, together we can defeat the virus! We look forward to returning to the campus activities we enjoy and cherish.”
SEC STATEMENT ON REMAINING 2020 COMPETITION
The Southeastern Conference today announced that all regular season conference and non-conference competitions are cancelled for the remainder of the 2019-20 athletic year, including all remaining SEC championship events, due to continuing developments related to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
In addition, all spring football games are cancelled and there will be no pro days conducted by SEC institutions.
“This is a difficult day for all of us, and I am especially disappointed for our student-athletes,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “The health and well-being of our entire conference community is an ongoing priority for the SEC as we continue to monitor developments and information about the COVID-19 virus.”
• Restaurants closing dining areas: Many area restaurants have announced they are closing their dining rooms. Among them in Homerville are Dairy Queen, Jerry J’s/Hog-n-Bones and Carter’s Fried Chicken. Their drive-thrus are still open. See specifics on their Facebook pages. Please let us know what other restaurants are taking this step and we’ll add them to the list.
• All public schools closed until March 31 by order of Governor: In accordance with newly issued federal guidance, Governor Brian P. Kemp signed Executive Order 3.16.20.01 closing all public elementary, secondary, and post-secondary public schools in Georgia from March 18, 2020 to March 31, 2020.
“To keep our students, teachers, and administrators safe and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, I am ordering the closure of all public elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools in Georgia from March 18, 2020 to March 31, 2020,” said Governor Kemp. “This measure is critical to reducing local transmission in communities across our state, and I ask Georgians to continue to follow best practices – washing their hands regularly, isolating the elderly and chronically ill, and avoiding large events if possible – in the days and weeks ahead.”
• Lakeland’s Milltown Motorcade postponed: Originally scheduled for Saturday, March 28, the annual Milltown Murals Motorcade is being moved to the Fall.
From the Lakeland/Lanier County Chamber of Commerce: Regrettably, we should postpone the Motorcade this year due to COVID-19 and social distancing concerns. I have surveyed car club members and many are concerned about crowds and travel. We are looking forward to combining the Motorcade with this years Lanier County Centennial events in the fall.
I deeply regret any inconvenience this causes any of you.
• Jesus & Jam of Clinch County is distributing lunches to kids: With school out for at least the next two weeks, Clinch County’s Jesus & Jam will be delivering lunches to children along its regular Saturday route from 2:15-3:30 daily, starting Tuesday (March 17). If a school-age child is not along that route, they can come to the Jesus & Jam Community Center (75 Hampton Street) and pick up a sack lunch between 2:30-3:30 Monday-Friday. Jesus & Jam also needs volunteers to help between 1:30-3:30 on these dates. Contact Lajuanta Mattox at 912-337-5342 to volunteer or donate items to the cause.
• Alapaha Judicial Circuit courts closed: From Superior Court Judge Clay Tomlinson:
“Due to the Supreme Court judicial emergency, there will be no court in the Alapaha circuit this week. All Berrien county trials are continued. The courthouses will remain open. Warrants and civil emergencies will continue to be processed.”
The Alapaha Judicial Circuit covers Atkinson, Berrien, Clinch, Cook, and Lanier Counties.
• Atkinson County schools to close Tuesday: “All Atkinson County Schools will be in session Monday, March 16th. We will close Tuesday, March 17th and remained closed through March 30th. I will meet with Board Members on March 30th to reassess the situation and determine whether or not we will reopen on March 31st based on the information we have at that time. During our closure, there will be no school activities on or off campus. In addition, no one will be able to enter school grounds during the closure.” -Superintendent Bob Brown
• CDC’s link – this page supplies information on symptoms of COVID-19, how to protect yourself and prepare your family, and what to do if you become sick: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
• Georgia’s Department of Health status page: This page updates how many confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Georgia. Also has other pertinent information about the virus for Georgians. Here’s the link: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
• 3/15, 1 p.m.
One new case of COVID-19 identified in Lowndes County – Brings total South Health District case count to two
VALDOSTA – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), South Health District has received confirmation of one new case of COVID-19. The individual is a resident of Lowndes County and is not hospitalized. This individual does share a connection with the individual first identified as a presumptive positive in Lowndes County.
At this time, South Health District has two confirmed cases of COVID-19 throughout the District which includes ten counties throughout South Georgia; however, this number could increase as the situation evolves. For the most up-to-date case count in Georgia, visit www.dph.ga.gov. This site updates daily at noon.
Older adults and individuals with chronic illnesses should take extreme caution to avoid coming into contact with individuals, including avoiding large gatherings, who are sick with any type of illness.
Prevention is a very crucial step in stopping the spread of illness. The best prevention measures for any respiratory virus are:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Avoid large gatherings, especially older adults and individuals with a chronic illness.
If you have recently traveled to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 and develop fever with cough and shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel, or if you have had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, stay home and call your health care provider or local health department right away. Be sure to call before going to a doctor’s office, emergency room, or urgent care center and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
• Georgia to postpone presidential primaries due to health concerns: Valdosta Daily Times story
• Youth baseball/softball season postponed in Clinch County: The Clinch County Recreation Park will be closed until Saturday, March 28. This will postpone the start of the youth baseball and softball season – which was supposed to start March 28. Consult The Clinch County News for more local updates on information and closures due to coronavirus health crisis.
• Clinch, Lanier and Echols county schools closed: On Friday, school officials in Clinch, Lanier and Echols counties announced their school systems would be closed starting Monday, March 16, until at least Friday, March 27.
• Clinch Memorial has a Q&A video: Released on Thursday, the video answers some questions about COVID-19 and features local physicians and health officials:
• Coronavirus information provided by Clinch Memorial Hospital and the Clinch County News: