Update: Towns County sees 2nd COVID-19 death, 155 confirmed cases

Business, Community, News

Hiawassee, Ga. – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) reported the second death in Towns County and  155 confirmed cases of COVID-19

19 total cases have required hospitalization. This information comes from the DPH Wednesday, July 22, 3:00 p.m. update.

The two deaths were a 53-year-old, white female with underlying conditions and an 84-year-old, white male with underlying conditions.

The total cases in Georgia as of the August 13, 3:00 p.m. update is now: total number of confirmed cases 1228,668 with 21,581 total hospitalized (3,963 requiring ICU admission), and 4,538 deaths. 1,942,610 tests have been administered in Georgia. 

No recovery information is available in the daily reports.

Union County is currently reporting 313 positive cases. At this time, Fetch Your News has no additional information about these cases. We will bring you details as they become available to the public.

July 22 Update:

Hiawassee, Ga. – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) reported 85 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Towns County with 14 total cases requiring hospitalization. This information comes from the DPH Wednesday, July 22, 3:00 p.m. update.

One death is also confirmed in the county.

The total cases in Georgia as of the July 22, 3:00 p.m. update is now: total number of confirmed cases 152,302 with  15,922 total hospitalized (2,967 requiring ICU admission), and 3,335 deaths. 1,316,844 tests have been administered in Georgia. 

No recovery information is available in the daily reports.

Union County is currently reporting 147 positive cases. At this time, Fetch Your News has no additional information about these cases. We will bring you details as they become available to the public.

June 15 Update:

Hiawassee, Ga. – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) reported 35 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Towns County with 10 cases requiring hospitalization. This information comes from the DPH Wednesday, June 15, 3:00 p.m. update.

One death is also confirmed in the county.

There has been confusion in counties as to how many residents or visitors have tested positive for the virus. The state reporting is not attributing all cases to place of residence as previously reported, and some cases are ending up being reported to the county where the person had testing done.

Union General Hospital (UGH) released a statement on April 1, that the hospital was treating a Covid-19 positive case with inpatient care. The hospital also confirmed that the patient had come from Towns County.

A day after UGH’s announcement, DPH released that Union County had one positive case. This led many to believe that the case was that of the Towns County resident who had been transported to UGH.

Currently, there is no way of confirming the origins of the positive cases due to HIPAA rules protecting an individual’s medical history. 

Union County is currently reporting 36 positive cases. At this time, Fetch Your News has no additional information about these cases. We will bring you details as they become available to the public.

The total cases in Georgia as of the May 13, 7:00 p.m. update is now: total number of confirmed cases 35,427 with 6,308 hospitalized (1,511 requiring ICU admission), and 1,517 deaths. 273,904 tests have been administered in Georgia.

Timeline of Confirmed Cases in Towns County:

  • First Case – April 3, 12:00 p.m. DPH update
  • Second Case – April 7, 12:00 p.m. DPH update
  • Third Case – April 10, 12:00 p.m. DPH update
  • Fourth, Fifth and Sixth cases – April 14, 12:00 p.m. DPH update
  • Seventh and Eighth cases – April 14, 7:00 p.m. DPH update
  • Ninth and Tenth cases – April 16, 7:00 p.m. DPH update
  • Eleventh and Twelfth cases – April 18, 7:00 p.m. DPH update
  • Thirteenth case – April 19, 12:00 p.m. DPH update
  • Fourteenth and Fifteenth cases – April 20, 7:00 p.m. DPH update
  • Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth cases – April 22, 7:00 p.m. DPH update
  • Twentieth case – April 24, 7:00 p.m. DPH update
  • First death – April 28, 12:00 p.m. DPH update
  • Twenty-first case – April 28, 6:00 p.m. DPH update
  • Twenty-second case – May 1, 6:25 p.m. DPH update
  • One case rescinded  bringing total cases back down to 21 – May 2, 6:25 p.m. DPH update
  • One case rescinded bringing total cases down to 20 – May 3, 10:25 a.m. DPH update
  • One case rescinded bringing total cases down to 19 – May 4, 3:25 p.m. DPH update
  • Twentieth case – May 5, 6:25 p.m. DPH update
  • Twenty-first case – May 13, 7:00 p.m. DPH update
  • Twenty-second case – May 26, 7:00 p.m. DPH update
  • Twenty-third case – May 27, 7:00 p.m. DPH update

*Fetch Your News has chosen to report on cases confirmed by the Georgia Department of Health (DPH) only. These reports may not reflect real-time spread as the laboratories processing COVID-19 tests are reportedly backlogged by several days. Fetch Your News is also reaching out to local sources to confirm positive cases before writing articles on the subject. 

Original story below:

Hiawassee, Ga. – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) confirmed the first case of Covid-19 in Towns County in their Friday, April 3, 12:00 p.m. update.

This news was expected as Union General Hospital released a statement on April 1, that the hospital was treating a Covid-19 positive case with inpatient care. The hospital also confirmed that the patient had come from Towns County.

While there had been several suspected cases in Towns County, all testing until today had come back with negative results. As of yesterday, Towns County was one of only 16 counties reporting zero cases of Covid-19.

Now there remains only 12 of Georgia’s 159 counties that are reporting zero cases.

Georgia’s total number of cases confirmed by DPH as of 12:00 p.m. on April 3 has risen to 5,831. Of these cases, 1158 remain hospitalized. DPH is reporting 184 deaths have occurred due to Covid-19 in the State of Georgia.

At this time, Fetch Your News has no additional information about this case. We will bring you details as they become available to the public.

DPH updates the Covid-19 Georgia State Statistics at 12:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. daily.

Georgia Coronavirus Origin : The State of Georgia had its first confirmed cases of Coronavirus announced by state officials on March 2. These cases were of a Fulton man in his 50’s that had recently returned from a work trip in Milan, and his 15-year-old son. Fulton County remains the county with the highest number of confirmed cases, 882.

Georgia DPH distributes Remdesivir to hospitals for treatment of COVID-19

Health, Press Release
remdesivir

Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is distributing an initial allotment of the drug Remdesivir received from the federal government. Georgia received 30 cases, with 40 vials of the drug per case, enough to treat about 110 patients, depending on the duration of an individual’s treatment. Remdesivir is an antiviral medicine being used to treat hospitalized patients with serious symptoms caused by COVID-19 like low oxygen levels or pneumonia. It has been found to shorten the duration of disease in patients being treated in inpatient hospital settings.

Remdesivir is given intravenously (IV) and decreases the amount of coronavirus in the body, helping patients recover faster.

The distribution plan for Remdesivir in Georgia was developed by DPH leadership, including district health directors and emergency preparedness staff, in accordance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines for its use. It is based on the number of patients on ventilators, the most severely ill, and clinical best practices.

Georgia hospitals receiving Remdesivir reported 10 or more COVID-19 positive patients on ventilators, in addition to patients currently being treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a machine that takes over the work of the heart and lungs. These criteria are subject to change based on the availability of Remdesivir and
the development of patient care at hospital facilities across the state.

The following hospitals are receiving Remdesivir; Tift Regional Medical Center, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Grady Health System, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, and Augusta University Medical Center.

“DPH is pleased to have the opportunity to share this promising treatment with hospitals on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., DPH commissioner. “While this drug is not a cure for COVID-19, getting it into the hospitals and improving patient outcomes is moving in the right direction.”

Georgia has received a second, much larger allotment of Remdesivir. DPH is surveying hospitals statewide over the weekend to determine need. This second allotment will be distributed next week.

Gilead Sciences, Inc. committed to supplying approximately 607,000 vials of the experimental drug over the next six weeks to treat an estimated 78,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients under an emergency use agreement (EUA). The donation to the United States is part of 1.5 million vials of Remdesivir the company is donating worldwide.

Remdesivir has not been approved by the FDA for widespread use because it is considered investigational, and it is still being studied. Remdesivir was originally developed for use against Ebola. Clinical trials for Remdesivir were done in Georgia at Emory University Hospital.

For more information about COVID-19 visit 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

COVID-19 testing available to all Georgians

Press Release
testing

Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has reached its goal of testing 100,000 individuals in 10 days. More than 108,000 tests were processed since Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H, set the DPH goal last week.

“This is an important benchmark for Georgia as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the state,” said Toomey. “Increased testing is critical to understanding where there are hotspots of infection and how best to mitigate them.”

Effective immediately, testing is available to all Georgians who request it, whether they have symptoms or not. There are more than 65 specimen point of collection sites (SPOC) throughout the state, with an additional 30 mobile SPOCs –  locations and hours vary daily.

Individuals wanting to be tested can contact any Georgia public health department to schedule an appointment at a SPOC location convenient to them. Contact information for local health departments can be found on the DPH homepage at

https://dph.georgia.gov/.

For more information about COVID-19 visit 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.

DPH Release – Expanded Testing For COVID-19 In Georgia

Featured, Health

Revised Testing Criteria and Increased Number of Test Sites

Atlanta – 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, 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 Click here or
Click Here.

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.

How is the DPH handling COVID-19 contact tracing?

Health, News
DPH

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – All of North Georgia now has at least one Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) confirmed COVID-19 case. DPH is also responsible for notifying individuals who encountered COVID-19 patients so they can isolate or receive testing.

After a lab relays a positive test to DPH, “local epidemiologist or public health nurse will start a contact investigation by calling the person who tested positive for the disease,” explained Public Health District Two MPH, Dave Palmer. District Two included Union, Towns, Rabun, White, Lumpkin, Dawson, Habersham, Stephens, Hall, Hart, Banks, Franklin, and Forsyth.

DPH Districts throughout Georgia.

If an individual can’t answer or is a minor, then family members can answer the questions. The line of questioning includes how a person could have been exposed to the virus as well as who else might have been unknowingly subjected to COVID-19.

Currently, the only people being notified are those who had immediate and prolonged contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. In other words, they came within six feet or less and had more than 10 minutes of interaction. Symptomatic individuals will be directed to isolate, and asymptomatic people will be asked to quarantine. As scientists and epidemiologists, learn more about the virus, these recommendations could change.

Fetch Your News (FYN) asked about tourists who visited North Georgia, and then test positive once returning home.

Palmer stated that DPH relies on information provided by patients about where they had been recently, and he reiterated that only individuals with prolonged exposure would be contacted by DPH epidemiologists.

Additionally, he said, “There should not be any tourism per the governor’s shelter in place order. There should be no public gatherings. People out in public should only be there for essential reasons, food, banking, etc. and should be practicing social distancing.”

DPH Administrative Order on Public Health Control Measures, issued on March 23, instructs:

“Each isolated person shall avoid unnecessary physical contact with any and all persons and shall comply fully with the Isolation Protocol attached to this Order, which may be updated from time to time based on guidance from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention.”

See entire order here: administrative_order_of_commissioner_i_q_amended_3.23.20_003-01 (1) (2)

The Isolation Protocol, last updated on April 1, details best practices for positive individuals who treat themselves in the home. In short, these patients should do their best to separate from all inhabitants of the house, including pets, ensure surfaces remain clean, and don’t share commonly used household items.

According to DPH, isolation can end once:

  • The patient hasn’t had a fever for at least 72 hours (that is, three full days of no fever without the use of a fever-reducing medicine); AND
  • Other symptoms, such as cough and shortness of breath, have improved; AND
  • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

If placed under home isolation due to a laboratory-confirmed positive test result but have experienced no symptoms of COVID-19, patients may discontinue home isolation when at least 7 days have passed since the date of the first positive diagnostic test.

See entire isolation protocol here: covid-19_isolation_protocol_.revised_4.1.20_exhibit_to_ao (1)

Quarantined individuals or those identified as most likely to result in infection must remain in their homes for 14 days since last exposure to COVID-19. According to the DPH Administrative Order on Public Health Control Measures:

“During the period of quarantine, the quarantined person shall take his or her temperature twice per day and monitor any symptoms of respiratory illness. If at any time the quarantined person’s temperature is above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or if the quarantined person experiences cough or shortness of breath, the quarantined person shall be considered a person with suspected COVID-19 and shall follow the requirements for isolation.”

FYN also asked if DPH would issue press releases or notify the public in some manner if a patient admitted to attending a public event. Palmer stated, “Because the virus is spreading, we are not issuing press releases about cases – they are reflected on the GDPH website.” He also added that no one should be attending public gatherings under the shelter in place order.

New Data Supports Social Distancing Now More Than Ever

Featured, Health, News
Department of public health

News Release from the Department of Public Health – April 2, 2020

Atlanta – As Governor Brian Kemp and DPH Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D.,
M.P.H., finalize the details of the Executive Order requiring Georgians to shelter in place, it is
important to emphasize why these measures are needed now to keep all Georgians healthy and
safe and to stop the spread of COVID-19.

For weeks it has been known that people who were positive for COVID-19 but did not have
symptoms likely were able to transmit the virus. However, on March 30, Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield, M.D., confirmed that new data indicates
that as many as 25% of individuals infected with COVID-19 remain asymptomatic. Additionally,
science also now informs us that individuals who are symptomatic, are infectious up to 48
hours before symptoms appear. This new information tells the health care community,
medical researchers, public health and governments why COVID-19 is spreading so rapidly.
“Until now, containing the spread of COVID-19 has been based on early detection and isolation
of people with symptoms of the virus,” said Toomey. “Social distancing and keeping people
apart from each other are now more than just recommendations; they are the best weapons we
have to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

In addition to social distancing, all Georgians are reminded to wash their hands frequently and
thoroughly with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60% alcohol) when
soap and water aren’t available. Avoid touching your face, nose, mouth, and eyes with
unwashed hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and throw the used tissue in
the trash.

To read more about the presymptomatic transmission of COVID-19:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-guidance-management-patients.html
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6914e1.htm?s_cid=mm6914e1_w
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.

Georgia DPH adjusts COVID-19 models to include asymptomatic transmission

News, Police & Government, State & National
asymptomatic

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – As of April 1, Georgia had 4,748 cases and 20,328 completed COVID-19 tests, but Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has only tested symptomatic and high-risk patients. As a result, some cases have gone undiagnosed across Georgia.

Currently, DPH is following CDC guidelines, which still states online that not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. Most people who contract the virus will recover and can care for themselves at home. CDC gave healthcare workers four priority categories to help decide who receives tests.

Asymptomatic individuals were ranked last, and those exhibiting mild symptoms or subjected to potential community spread should only be tested if resources are available.

White County Public Safety Director David Murphy went on record about the issue.

“Some people take care of themselves at home and never go to a doctor, especially those who have minor symptoms,” he explained. Murphy added that White County first responders have encountered a dozen or more patients with coronavirus symptoms in the last two weeks.

DPH guidance for healthcare facilities when it comes to testing lower priority potential cases is as follows:

Patients with mild illness who do not require medical care or who are not a DIRECT contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case (meaning the person has NOT been within 6 feet of a confirmed case for greater than 10 minutes, will not meet criteria to be tested at GPHL but can be tested at commercial labs—see below:

These patients should self-isolate at home until symptoms resolve. If respiratory symptoms worsen, they may need to be re-evaluated. Guidance for safe home care can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-homecare.html.

If you want to test these patients for COVID-19, commercial laboratory testing is the best option. Commercial laboratories are expected to conduct a substantial number of COVID-19 tests going forward. Currently, the primary source of testing is LabCorp, but we expect other laboratories will be testing in the near future as well, including Quest and ARUP. Neither LabCorp nor Quest will collect specimens at their facilities. Providers should contact LabCorp or Quest regarding supplies needed for testing.

DPH Commissioner Kathleen Toomey addressed that asymptomatic individuals in Georgia aren’t being tested but could be transmitting the virus to numerous Georgians. The state and DPH now believe the time is now appropriate to take “very aggressive measures.”

“We have not been testing everybody. We have only been testing those who have symptoms and those who are the most ill. And now, we recognize a game-changer, in how our strategy to fight COVID has unfolded. We realize now that individuals may be spreading the virus and not even realize they have an infection. As many as 1 in 4 people with coronavirus don’t realize they have the infection because they have no symptoms whatsoever,” explained Toomey.

“Finding out that this virus is now transmitting before they see signs,” remarked Gov. Brian Kemp. “Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad.”

Kemp is expected to sign a shelter in place order on Thursday, April 2 to prevent people from ignoring self-quarantine recommendations. The details on the order are yet to be released.

Toomey further voiced that they knew asymptomatic community spread was possible due to the cruise ship cases. As of March 4, the CDC website also stated that asymptomatic spread is possible, but not as common as among individuals who are visibly sick.

Until the past 24-hours, all the DPH models relied on data solely from patients with symptoms.

“I think it’s a combination of recognizing not only that there are probably a large number of people out there who are infected who are asymptomatic, who never would have been recognized under our old models, but also seeing the community transmission that we’re seeing and now is the time to stop that transmission before the hospitals are overrun,” said Toomey.

How can Georgians prevent exposure/slow the spread?

Follow the CDC guidelines:

  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds – wash often
  • Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces
  • Avoid social contact and stay home
  • Social distance if in public – stay six feet apart from each other
  • Avoid touching the face – mouth, nose, eyes
  • If sick, stay home
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw it away
  • Wear a facemask if sick

By following these guidelines and Kemp’s shelter-in-place order, Georgian’s should be able to flatten the curve and hopefully protect themselves and loved ones.

Posted by Governor Brian Kemp on Wednesday, April 1, 2020

UPDATE: Gov. Kemp instructs medically at-risk individuals to shelter in place

Featured Stories, State & National
quarantine GEMA

ATLANTA, Ga – In a March 23 press conference, Gov. Kemp issued multiple executive orders and asked for the public’s help to ensure everyone is following CDC and Georgia Department of Health (DPH) guidelines during the country’s self-quarantine.

While Kemp is still hesitant to shut down all non-essential businesses or institute a statewide mandatory quarantine, he did issue an executive order to all medically fragile individuals to shelter in place. He listed off these individuals: the elderly, underlying conditions, cancer patients, or anyone suspected of having COVID-19.

In another executive order, Kemp closed all bars and nightclubs in the state and banned large gatherings (more than 10).

Kemp also said to fellow Georgians that if they see anyone not following the CDC of DPH guidelines, “call them out or report them to us.” He seemed prepared to take action against anyone not listening to his instructions or taking COVID-19 seriously.

“Fight this virus with everything you got,” stated Kemp toward the end of his press conference.

Georgians can also call the DPH COVID-19 hotline at (844) 442-2681. If they believe that they’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, please contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Do not show up at a clinic or emergency room unannounced.

Georgia now has 23 referral-only testing facilities in the state. Kemp released the location of the facilities in a tweet.


Update from March 15, 2020 below

Gov. Kemp, Georgia Department of Health (DPH), and Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) started construction of a quarantine zone in Monroe County on March 14, 2020. Additionally, the Georgia General Assembly ratified the executive order declaring a Public Health State of Emergency.

“This is one of many measures that we’re taking to prepare for any scenario,” said Gov. Kemp. “I appreciate the hard work of GEMA, DPH, and Monroe County officials to protect the health and safety of all Georgians.”

Public Health Emergency

Gov. Brian Kemp

The quarantine space is for people who are unable to self-isolate and is located in the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) Campus in Monroe County. The quarantine space will be able to accommodate twenty temporary housing units. No patients are currently located at the facility.

Monroe County is working with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) and GPSTC officials to ensure the facility will meet the needs of potential patients while protecting the health and safety of Monroe County residents.

Public Health Emergency Ratification

Kemp can now officially enforce all laws, rules, and regulations associated with the emergency; assume control of all state civil forces and helpers; seize property temporarily for public’s protection; exercise other duties deemed necessary for safety; use all the resources available of the state government; direct evacuation; suspend of alcohol, explosives, and combustibles; and provide temporary housing if applicable.

Since this is a public health emergency, Kemp also has the ability to “implement a mandatory vaccination or quarantine” in accordance with O.C.G.A. Code 38-3-51(i)(2). The Georgia Department of Health (DPH) already has this capability to mandate quarantine and vaccinations.

Additionally, Kemp can direct DPH’s efforts to coordinate the department’s response to the crisis from risk assessments, mitigation, responses, and recovery throughout the state.

The General Assembly also granted Kemp the ability to extend the state of emergency if the elected representative body can’t convene in time.

Original Article:

On Saturday morning, Governor Brian Kemp officially declared Georgia’s first Public Health Emergency, freeing up resources and granting additional powers to Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA). The General Assembly will vote on the executive order on Monday.

A Public Health Emergency is enacted when an infectious disease/illness presents an imminent threat and can potentially result in a high number of deaths and/or exposure could harm large amounts of people.

So, what exactly does this executive order entail for Georgians? In short, it guarantees a continuous supply of medical goods and other emergency materials, as well as giving DPH and GEMA powers to “taken any action necessary to protect the public’s health” with the governor’s permission.

The department of public health is authorized to “actively monitor” persons under investigation (PUI), including a risk assessment within 24 hours of identification, and twice-daily temperature checks for 14 days or until a negative test result.

Here’s the entire executive order for those who want to review it.

These actions include “implementing quarantine, isolation, and other necessary public health interventions in accordance with O.C.G.A. Code 31-12-4 and Code 38-3-51(i)(2) or as other authorized by law.

O.C.G.A. Code 31-12-4 addresses isolation and segregation of diseased persons stating the DPH and county boards can isolate or quarantine individuals suspected of harboring infectious diseases, or until they test negative for the contagion.  The department also must widely publicize the rules and regulations for the quarantine.

O.C.G.A. Code 38-3-51(i)(2) lists the due processes afforded to those in quarantine and seeks to leave before the department of public health gives the okay.

Additionally, the Georgia Emergency Operations Plan is activated. DPH and GEMA must coordinate with state, federal, and local government, recovery operations, mitigation, emergency response activities, CDC, and the release of the national stockpile of goods.

The public must also be informed about public health operations, including education and prevention measures.

Commercial vehicles have certain restrictions lifted, so they can operate more freely to move supplies throughout the state.

Georgia Board of Nurses and Georgia Composite Medical Board can grant temporary licenses to applicants that are in good standing with an equivalent board in another state.

All state and local healthcare facilities, physicians, clinics, and personnel must comply with the governor’s orders.

Price gouging on products on goods and services necessary in this public health emergency is prohibited.

The Georgia National Guard was called in on March 14 to assist in the crisis.

The executive order expires on April 13, 2020, unless Gov. Kemp renews it.

Copy of Gov. Kemp Special Session proclamation.

Kemp declares Public Health Emergency, what does it mean?

Featured Stories
public health emergency

ATLANTA, Ga – On Saturday morning, Governor Brian Kemp officially declared Georgia’s first Public Health Emergency, freeing up resources and granting additional powers to Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA). The General Assembly will vote on the executive order on Monday.

So, what exactly does this executive order entail Georgians? In short, it guarantees a continuous supply of medical goods and other emergency materials, as well as giving DPH and GEMA powers to “taken any action necessary to protect the public’s health” with the governor’s permission.

The department of public health is authorized to “actively monitor” persons under investigation (PUI), including a risk assessment within 24 hours of identification, and twice-daily temperature checks for 14 days or until a negative test result.

Here’s the entire executive order for those who want to review it.

These actions include “implementing quarantine, isolation, and other necessary public health interventions in accordance with O.C.G.A. Code 31-12-4 and Code 38-3-51(i)(2) or as other authorized by law.

O.C.G.A. Code 31-12-4 addresses isolation and segregation of diseased persons stating the DPH and county boards can isolate or quarantine individuals suspected of harboring infectious diseases, or until they test negative for the contagion.  The department also must widely publicize the rules and regulations for the quarantine.

O.C.G.A. Code 38-3-51(i)(2) lists the due processes afforded to those in quarantine and seeks to leave before the department of public health gives the okay.

Additionally, the Georgia Emergency Operations Plan is activated. DPH and GEMA must coordinate with state, federal, and local government, recovery operations, mitigation, emergency response activities, CDC, and the release of the national stockpile of goods.

The public must also be informed about public health operations, including education and prevention measures.

Commercial vehicles have certain restrictions lifted, so they can operate more freely to move supplies throughout the state.

Georgia Board of Nurses and Georgia Composite Medical Board can grant temporary licenses to applicants that are in good standing with an equivalent board in another state.

All state and local healthcare facilities, physicians, clinics, and personnel must comply with the governor’s orders.

Price gouging on products on goods and services necessary in this public health emergency is prohibited.

The Georgia National Guard was called in on March 14 to assist in the crisis.

The executive order expires on April 13, 2020, unless Gov. Kemp renews it.

Copy of Gov. Kemp Special Session proclamation.

Towns County officials ‘closely monitoring’ coronavirus developments

News

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County officials and health providers gathered in recent days, focused on disseminating information related to COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus. Rhonda Calwell, a registered nurse trained in Infection Control and Prevention with Union General Hospital, held a seminar for the public on March 10, at the Towns County Recreation and Conference Center in Young Harris. The following day, a PowerPoint presentation was led by Towns County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) with local emergency responders in attendance.

Archive: Towns County EMA issues statement on coronavirus

FYN spoke with Towns County EMA Director Brandon Walls on Wednesday, March 11. Walls stated that EMA is “closely monitoring” the spread of the virus outbreak. Walls added that the department is involved in “active and heavy situational awareness” with “advice and guidance exchanged between local, state, and federal agencies.” Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw indicated that policies related to the virus outbreak may transpire in coming weeks.

There are no known cases of COVID-19 in Towns or surrounding counties at the time of publication.

On March 10, Towns County Schools announced guidelines stating that students, staff, and any individual who attends or visits the campus must impose a 14-day self-quarantine should they meet certain criteria. If the individual or a house member has traveled outside of the U.S. in the past two weeks, or if they have been in close contact with anyone who has contracted COVID-19, self-monitoring for the onset of virus symptoms is warranted. Students and staff must remain fever-free for a 14-day period prior to their return to campus.

Towns county Schools - coronavirus

Statement issued by Towns County Schools regarding COVID-19

Quarantined students and staff are required to report symptoms associated with COVID-19 to the Department of Public Health (DPH) by dialing 1-866-PUB-HLTH, additionally seeking medical assistance. According to the school’s administration, students will be provided class assignments during the quarantine period, and absences will be excused.

“We’re talking with the school daily,” Walls told FYN. “We’re looking at the response plan to see if changes need to be made.”

Walls stressed that the public should not panic nor “add to the hype” but rather follow CDC and DPH health guidelines and pursue accurate information on the virus.

As of March 10, there were 22 confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia. While the risk of infection remains relatively low, citizens are urged to take general precautions recommended to reduce the spread of any respiratory illness.

Click here for preventive information from the CDC

COVID 19 Towns County

Source: CDC

 

“More cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified in the United States in the coming days, including more instances of community spread. It’s likely that at some point, widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur,” Georgia’s DPH website states in part. “Widespread transmission of COVID-19 would translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time. Schools, childcare centers, and workplaces, may experience more absenteeism. Mass gatherings may be sparsely attended or postponed. Public health and healthcare systems may become overloaded, with elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths. Other critical infrastructure, such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and sectors of the transportation industry may also be affected. Healthcare providers and hospitals may be overwhelmed.”

Georgia physicians are now capable of ordering tests for COVID-19, and private labs can process the samples.

FYN will continue to update information related to the virus outbreak as developments occur.

 

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COVID-19 in Georgia

Announcements

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is awaiting confirmatory testing on four new presumptive positive tests for COVID-19 in Georgia residents. Testing was completed today at the Georgia Public Health Laboratory (GPHL) and the results have been submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for verification.

 

One individual is from Fulton County, another individual is from Cherokee County, and the other two individuals are from Cobb County, but they have no connection to each other. All of the individuals are hospitalized, and the sources of their infections are not known.

 

With the addition of these four presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, there are now six presumptive positives pending confirmatory testing by CDC, and five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia.

 

The risk of COVID-19 to the general public remains low. 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.

 

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.

 

For accurate and reliable information about COVID-19 log on to https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. Previous news releases about COVID-19 in Georgia can be found on the DPH website at https://dph.georgia.gov/.

Towns County EMA issues statement on coronavirus

News
Towns County Coronavirus

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw addressed COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus, during a special-called meeting on Thursday, March 5, with Towns County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Brandon Walls in attendance.

“Towns County EMA is constantly monitoring the situation and is, as always, connected in real-time with our local, state and federal partners,” Walls told FYN. “We are always ready to mount a response to any situation. We urge the public to educate themselves from reputable sources such as the CDC and the state department of health. Monitoring, education, and research is a key factor in managing, mitigating and responding to any situation like the CoVid-19 outbreak. Follow standard infection control hygiene practices such as hand washing and staying home when sick. We would also like to ask the public to avoid adding to ‘hype’ and spreading unverified information.”

Two known cases of the coronavirus have been documented in Georgia; a 56-year-old father and his 15-year-old son residing in Fulton County. The man was reported as a recent visitor to Milan, Italy.

Symptoms include a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

As of March 5, the CDC reported 99 cases of confirmed coronavirus in 13 U.S. states, along with 10 deaths resulting from the illness. Of the 99 cases, a total of 30 have been deemed travel-related, 20 cases were spread person-to-person, and 49 cases are currently under investigation. As of March 4, a total of 1,526 U.S. patients had been tested for the novel virus. The number, however, does not include testing performed at state and local public health laboratories as testing began this week.

The CDC advises the following preventative actions to avoid respiratory illnesses:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • 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 using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well to wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

 

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