Local health care officials are urging Clinch County citizens to use masks or facial coverings after a surge in COVID-19 cases in the county.
As of Friday, there were 113 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Clinch County citizens since the pandemic began. That’s an increase of 22 cases in a week, with 42 tests pending. Clinch Memorial Hospital has had 136 tests come back positive for the Coronavirus out of 1225 total tests, with 111 being Clinch citizens, as of Friday. At least two tests of Clinch County citizens were performed outside the county, according to the state Department of Public Health.
Last week, CMH announced they would no longer be providing COVID testing results to the public. The Department of Public Health website was still showing 103 confirmed cases in Clinch County, as of Monday, with three deaths and 10 hospitalizations.
The sudden increase of COVID cases has local health care officials concerned, and urging citizens to wear masks or face coverings when in the public.
“If we will ‘mask up,’ data has shown we will see a reduction of about 33,000 deaths (nationwide) by October,” Homerville physician Dr. Sam Cobarrubias said Monday. ‘Even if you had just 80 percent of the population masking, you could stop the transmission of the virus.”
Cobarrubias said even wearing a cloth mask can protect you from the virus, but that masks need to be worn properly to be effective.
“With summer vacations and all kinds of celebrations and family reunions, we might forget that there’s a pandemic going on,” said CMH Administrator Angela Ammons. “It’s important to remember that if you cannot socially distance, you really should wear a mask. That’s because you might be infecting others even when you don’t feel sick. So, you should wear a mask when you’re going out and you’ll be close to other people, for example, to run errands. There are two exceptions to the rule: Don’t put a mask on a child younger than two, and don’t use special surgical masks intended for healthcare personnel.”
Local health officials are supported by scientists in urging for more public mask usage. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), out of the University of Washington, has interactive graphics on a website (www.covid.healthdata.org) which show models of how utilization of masks can curb the growth of the virus. At the site, you can view different states, and other countries, and how having universal mask usage in public (defined as participation of 95 percent of the population) compares to current observed rates and easing of mandates in the future. According to the model for Georgia, continuing with the current percentage of mask usage and easing of mandates, Georgia can expect the number of deaths due to COVID-19 to more than double (6,614) by October 1. The current number of deaths in Georgia due to COVID is listed as 2,778 on the website. By contract, if Georgians adopt universal mask usage, the model shows deaths by COVID to be 4,265 by October 1.
The data sources and methodology are explained on the site.
Locally, after re-opening the recreation park two weeks ago for youth baseball and softball, the recreation park is now closed after several participating children tested positive for COVID-19.
Recreation Director A.C. Cooper said the recreation park was closed Tuesday after officials learned of the positive results. They then asked parents to have their children tested to see the extent of the issue. On Monday, Cooper said the recreation board dedided to cancel the remainder of the season due to safety concerns for the children and parents.