Towns County Health Department delivers COVID-19 update

Community, News
COVID-19 update

HIAWASSEE, Ga – Towns County Health Department (TCHD) Office Manager Laura Ide delivered a COVID-19 update during the July Towns Commission meeting.

Approximately 1 in 698 Towns residents has had a confirmed case of the virus. As of July 21, 84 total cases were reported out of a population of 12,034 with one death and 13 total hospitalizations. The hospitalization number reflected overall cases since March, not the number of current active cases in Chatuge Regional Hospital.

Only three percent of confirmed cases experience severe symptoms, according to the CDC.

“The CDC says it does not act like any known virus,” said Ide.

Over 1,000 COVID-19 nasal swab tests were administered by the TCHD, but some of these were retests from people returned for another exam. As one of six testing sites in Public Health District Two, TCHD often receives patients from neighboring counties and states. The facility conducts drive-up COVID-19 exams once a week on Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Ide assessed it’s been crazy times at the TCHD during her COVID-19 update.

Nasal swab only tests from active COVID-19 cases; it’s not an antibody test. If a person has the virus at the time of the swab test, it will result in a positive.

Currently, it takes between seven to ten days for results to come back. Those interested in getting tested are encouraged to call their local health department to set up an appointment time. However, Laura stated that people who just show up will be worked into the schedule.

An epidemiologist in Union County performs contact tracing for TCHD. Previously, the epidemiologist in Gainesville tried to cover the entire Public Health District Two, but it proved impossible to accurately monitor 13 counties. Now, several epidemiologists assist in the process.

Additionally, restaurant workers must wear masks as part of Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order.

Recovery numbers aren’t available in the state of Georgia at this time.

testing

Current testing schedule for Public Health District Two.

Free COVID-19 Testing in North GA Memorial Day Weekend

Health, Lifestyle

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.

District 2 Public Health announces new testing guidelines

Health, Press Release
testing guidelines specimen collection

GAINESVILLE, GA – In a press release issued today by District 2 Public Health, it outlines that the state has expanded the testing guidelines to include those without symptoms if they meet certain qualifications.

“District 2 Public Health is ramping up specimen collection to help meet Governor Kemp’s call for increased testing. This is made possible by additional testing supplies, increased laboratory capacity and expanded testing criteria. The new testing guidelines will include these groups:

  • Hospitalized patients
  • The following people with symptoms:
    • Healthcare workers, first responders, and other critical infrastructure workers
    • Persons residing in long-term care facilities or other group residential settings
    • Persons 65 years of age and older
    • Patients with underlying medical conditions
    • Household members or caregivers of any of the groups above
    • Persons with close contact with a known COVID-19 case
  • The following people without symptoms will also be tested as capacity allows:
    • Healthcare workers, first responders, and other critical infrastructure workers that have been exposed to COVID-19
    • Residents of a long-term care facility or other group residential setting experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19

If you feel that you meet any of these conditions, follow these three simple steps:

  • Call your local health department and ask to speak to a nurse about COVID-19 testing.

  • The nurse will review your situation and submit your information for verification.

  • Public health will call you back to arrange an appointment at the site nearest to you.”

Here’s Fetch Your News’ daily updates of COVID-19 cases in Georgia.

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.

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

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