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.


Current testing schedule for Public Health District Two.

COVID-19 testing site coming to Towns County Health Department

Announcements, News

TOWNS COUNTY, Ga – In his public address on Friday, April 17, Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw revealed that Towns County would soon receive a COVID-19 testing location at the local health department.

“We’re going to have a drive-thru testing site at Towns County Health Department, and it will be up and going in a few days. It will help us identify who has the virus, who doesn’t have the virus. You need to go isolate yourself or your fine, you can go back to work,” explained the commissioner.

According to Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales the testing site is open and taking appointments. Please call ahead before showing up at the health department. The number is (706) 896-2265.

Fetch Your News contacted District Two MPH Dave Palmer for further details about the testing location.  However, once all the specimen collection details are worked out, testing should begin soon.

Towns and Union County Health Department staff are being trained in COVID-19 testing protocols, and the Towns location will serve citizens from both counties.

“Specimen collection will take place at the health department and specimens will be sent to a lab for testing. Test results average 24 to 48 hours, explained Palmer. “The process will require an appointment. Individuals who have symptoms are asked to call the health department. A nurse will screen callers and then submit the information to a scheduler who will call the individual with a time to come to the specimen collection site.”

Those who take a COVID-19 test will receive a phone call with the lab results. All positive patients will work with a nurse regarding contact tracing.

How Towns received a testing location

Bradshaw contacted State Senator John Wilkinson and District 2 Public Health Director Pam Logan on Thursday, April 16 about getting a testing site. Up until now, Gainesville, Ga has been the closest drive-thru testing site for Towns County residents.

“I said can we not please get a testing site on this side of the mountain? We’ve got elderly folks here who are sick, and [they don’t feel like driving across the mountain.] To be honest with you after watching the local news and all this stuff about testing sites, I thought it would probably be impossible,” admitted Bradshaw.

At 5 p.m., Logan called back and confirmed Towns County could receive its own drive-thru site.

For those with questions about the testing site, call the health department at 706.896.2265.

“I’m very, very proud that we’re able to get this done,” said Bradshaw.

testing site

Commissioner Bradshaw gave a COVID-19 update to Towns County citizens.

He thanked everyone who made it possible including Wilkinson, Logan, Laura Ide, the office manager health department, Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, Young Harris Mayor Andrea Gibby, and all the people involved in making it happen.

“This is a serious time. There’s no doubt about it and this is when Americans rise to the top. This is when we do our best. I’m thankful to all you guys, and I’m thankful to our citizens,” stated the commissioner.

Chatuge Regional employee tests positive for COVID-19

Health, Press Release
chatuge regional

HIAWASSEE, Ga – On April 10, 2020, Union General Health System issued the following release concerning a Chatuge Regional Employee who has tested positive for COVID-19. Towns County Health Department received notification at the time of test.

The employee last worked at Chatuge on April 2 and wasn’t exhibiting symptoms at that time. Their positive test came back on April 9. Fetch Your News asked a Union General Hospital representative who decided to administer a COVID-19 test. They didn’t know as they weren’t there at the time.

The representative did confirm that the employee was definitely asked to isolate and follow CDC guidelines like all Union General Health System employees.

Part of the CDC guidelines and Union General’s protocol includes wearing all proper medical attire when entering a patient’s room, so inpatients should have experienced minimal exposure to the positive employee. The press release also stated that no inpatients are currently suspected of having COVID-19.

Read the entire release below:

Union General Health System implements best practices in compliance with CDC and DPH guidance.  Patient safety and ensuring the highest quality of care is a priority for the entire Union General Health System. As a community partner, Union General seeks to ensure that the community has accurate information and to ensure that inaccurate statements are corrected.

Specifically, Chatuge Regional Hospital has one employee that tested positive for COVID-19.  The employee last worked at Chatuge on Thursday, April 2. The employee had no symptoms while working last week.

The employee was instructed to isolate and distance from other people per the CDC guidelines upon being tested. Notification was made to the Towns County Public Health Department at the time of the test, and the positive result was returned on Thursday, April 9. The employee will not return to work until clear of COVID-19 infection per the CDC guidelines. Anyone with a potential exposure to this employee will be contacted and given instructions on self-monitoring and offered testing as per the CDC and Georgia DPH guidelines. It is believed that this employee’s infection is likely related to a community exposure as no suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients are being treated as inpatients at Chatuge Regional Hospital.

Our employees have received education on COVID-19 signs and symptoms and the CDC guidelines surrounding this illness, including isolation precautions. All employees are screened daily prior to working with temperature check and screened for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19. Union General Health System continues to monitor CDC and CMS guidance related to COVID-19 and will continue to collaborate with the Department of Public Health.

Fetch Your News will update this story as more information becomes available.

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