As Grady County Schools prepare to reopen next month another local resident has died from COVID-19 and the number of positive cases continue to increase.
For the third week in a row, the number of new Grady County residents testing positive for COVID-19 has been in the 50s, this week there were 59 new cases here compared to 52 the previous two weeks. An additional death from the disease was attributed to Grady County this week, bringing the total number of residents to have died from COVID-19 to five, according to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health. There are a total of 425 local residents who have tested positive, according to the state public health records, and three more Grady countians have been hospitalized in the last seven days.
Testing continues to take place at the Grady County Health Department this month. August testing will be every Tuesday and Friday, 8 a.m. until noon, and one Sunday, Aug. 9, 8 a.m. until 11 a.m., according to Michelle Thornton, R.N./B.S.N., director of the local health department. Thornton says the testing center here has converted to self-swab.
There are four ways to make an appointment for testing: people can call the hotline, (229) 352-6567; scan a QR Code available at southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org; go online to covid19.dph.ga.gov; or follow a link at southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org.
Meanwhile, Governor Brian P. Kemp signed two executive orders extending the Public Health State of Emergency and existing COVID-19 safety measures.
“The fight against COVID-19 continues, and these executive orders reaffirm our commitment to protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians. As our state ramps up testing, expands hospital surge capacity, and provides staffing, supplies, and resources to cities and counties throughout Georgia, we urge local officials to enforce the rules and restrictions detailed in these orders,” said Gov. Kemp. “While government plays an important role in fighting this pandemic, the people of our great state will ultimately be the ones who defeat this virus. We continue to encourage fellow Georgians to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash their hands regularly, and follow public health guidance. Together, we will flatten the curve and stop the spread of COVID-19 in Georgia.”
Executive Order 07.31.20.01 extends the Public Health State of Emergency through 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 10, and allows for enhanced coordination across government and the private sector for supply procurement, comprehensive testing, and healthcare capacity.
The other Executive Order, 07.31.20.02, continues to require social distancing, bans gatherings of more than 50 people unless there is six feet between each person, outlines mandatory criteria for businesses, and requires sheltering in place for those living in long-term care facilities and the medically fragile, among other provisions. The order runs through 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 15.
Statewide, 22,896 more Georgians tested positive for COVID-19 and 358 more Georgians died in the last seven days.
Big jumps in the numbers of cases in our area continue to take place in Thomas and Decatur counties where they saw 142 and 150 new cases respectively in the last seven days. Comparatively, Dougherty County saw an additional 138 new cases in the last week. Thomas County also had two additional deaths in the last week.
To the South, Leon and Gadsden counties continue to see case numbers jump by the hundreds. Leon County rose by 527 new cases in the last week, while Gadsden County had 375 new positives. Each county had 22 new people hospitalized in the last seven days.
Here in Cairo, Grady General Hospital was treating three positive patients as of Tuesday, according to Ashley Griffin, spokeswoman for Archbold Medical Center. There are 38 positive patients at Archbold Memorial Hospital, three at Mitchell County Hospital and one at Brooks County Hospital. Northside Center for Behavioral and Psychiatric Care has seven positive patients, Griffin states.
District public health officials say guidelines for restaurant operations continue to change.
Clay Poole, district environmental health director, says, “Food service employees are only required to wear a mask if they are in direct contact with a patron in positions such as wait staff or in the drive-through. They are not required to wear a mask if they are working in the back and not around patrons.”
In addition, because food service workers are considered essential under the Executive Order, current guidelines allow food service employees to continue to work after exposure to a COVID-19 positive patient as long as they wear a mask. But, they must not work if they develop symptoms, adds Poole.
Restaurants are still required to operate with six feet between tables, which may limit capacity in the facility, he says