If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Due to the continuing uptick in COVID-19 cases here, Grady County leaders have canceled the remainder of the abbreviated spring sports schedule of activities at Barber Park. County administrator J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III, made the decision Tuesday afternoon, a day after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp moved to extend social distancing rules for businesses and stay-at-home orders for the state’s most vulnerable populations another two weeks amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“I applaud our recreation department for attempting to salvage the spring sports season, but out of an abundance of caution I have decided it would be prudent to cancel the remainder of the season and hopefully we can have a fall season,” Johnson said.
No organized activities were planned for this week at Barber Park, but games were set to resume next week and run through the end of July.
“This is not a decision we take lightly, but we believe it is in everyone’s best interest,” Johnson said.
The county administrator said that those who had paid registration fees for spring sports will be issued a credit on their fall sports registration. For those who had paid spring sports registration, but do not plan to participate in the fall season, Johnson says the county will offer refunds.
“We will make it right,” Johnson said.
In the last week, at least 18 more Grady County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, according to information from the Georgia Department of Public Health. The Grady County Health Department was unable to provide updated numbers Tuesday. The local death toll remains unchanged at five.
Meanwhile, some counties surrounding Grady have seen an explosion in positive cases in the last week, in particular, Leon County, Florida, where the number of cases nearly doubled in the last week. Leon County jumped by 512 cases since last Tuesday, increasing to 1,076 by Tuesday of this week, according to Florida Public Health information.
In Southwest Georgia, public health officials say there is an increase in COVID-19 cases in Dougherty and Colquitt counties, accompanied by a slight increase in hospitalizations in Dougherty and a significant increase in Colquitt.
In Colquitt County, there were 187 new cases in the last seven days, bringing their total to 951 Colquitt County residents testing positive.
Thomas County experienced a jump of 47 new cases in the last week, bringing their total to 435.
In Mitchell and Decatur counties, positive cases increased by nine and eight respectively for totals of 450 cases in Mitchell and 253 in Decatur.
Unlike earlier in the pandemic, recent positive cases are among younger people on average and they’re not as seriously ill, says Charles Ruis, M.D., district health director, Southwest Health District. Ruis theorizes that older people currently are being more cautious and younger people are tending to practice social distancing less often.
“The good news is that I.C.U. and ventilation requirements are proportionately down, and the frequency of death is down,” says Ruis, adding that the biggest cause for the increase is symptomatic people not staying at home.
“If we could get symptomatic people to stay at home, isolate properly, and consult with their physician, that would pay huge dividends. Beyond that, wearing masks and hand washing are still important activities that can reduce the spread,” he says.
Those more vulnerable to contracting the disease need to exercise caution because the virus is definitely in our communities, says Ruis. “If they go out in public, and get infected, they are more likely to experience a more serious case of the disease and are more susceptible to death than their younger, healthier counterparts.”
Gov. Kemp plans to extend the state’s public health emergency until Aug. 11, granting him more than a month to continue tapping into broad powers that allow him to issue executive orders.
The extended orders announced Monday ban gatherings of more than 50 people unless there is at least six feet of distance between them and require restaurants, bars and other businesses to keep their establishments routinely sanitized.
Georgians in long-term elderly care facilities and those with chronic health conditions will need to remain sheltered in place through July 15.
On Monday, Kemp acknowledged state health officials have seen an increase in positive cases and hospitalizations due to coronavirus in recent days, prompting him to order extensions of current social distancing rules.
“As we continue our fight against COVID-19 in Georgia, it is vital that Georgians continue to heed public health guidance by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly and practicing social distancing,” the governor said late Monday.
“We have made decisions throughout the pandemic to protect the lives – and livelihoods – of all Georgians by relying on data and the advice of public health officials.”
Kemp has steadily eased up on social distancing requirements for Georgia businesses and other gathering spots since ending the state’s mandatory stay-at-home order at the end of April.
Since then, restaurants, bars and other social hotspots have been allowed to reopen with gradually loosened restrictions on occupancy limits and distancing rules.
The distancing extensions announced Monday come as positive coronavirus cases have ticked up in recent weeks following the Memorial Day holiday period late last month, according to data from the state Department of Public Health.
As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 81,000 people had tested positive in Georgia for COVID-19. The virus had killed 2,805 Georgians.
So far, Kemp has resisted pressure to impose a statewide mask mandate in Georgia as several states including New York, California and Kentucky have recently required residents to wear facial coverings in public.
Beau Evans, staff writer, Capitol Beat News Service, contributed to this article