Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Clarke County Reports First Area Death Due To COVID-19; Oconee’s Seven Confirmed Cases Second Highest In 10-County Region

***County Says Shelter-In-Place Order Not Needed***

Update 7 p.m. 3/26/2020: Clarke County now has 29 cases and Oconee County has 7. The numbers for the other counties surrounding Oconee are: Barrow (5), Walton (0), Morgan (1), Greene (1), Oglethorpe (0), Jackson (2) and Madison (3). The state now has 1,643 total confirmed cases, 509 hospitalized patients, and 56 deaths. The line chart below reflect the numbers as of noon today. The box above the lines includes the 7 p.m. figures. The increase in the number of cases in the state in the last 24 hours was 18.5 percent.

The Northeast Health District of the Georgia Department of Health has confirmed the first death in the district from COVID-19 with the passing of a 67-year-old Athens male at one of the area’s two hospitals.

The Northeast Health District consists of 10 counties, and, as of 7 p.m. on Tuesday, had 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with Clarke’s 17 and Oconee’s 5 dominating.

Barrow had two cases, and Greene, Madison, Morgan and Walton had one each. Elbert, Jackson and Oglethorpe have no confirmed cases to date.

The Northeast Health District said the first casualty of the disease had existing medical conditions in addition to testing positive for COVID-19. No other details were provided in the news release, which was dated March 23.

The 7 p.m. Daily Status Report on Tuesday showed an increase of one case in Clarke County and one case in Barrow County from Tuesday’s noon Daily Status Report. The five cases in Oconee County were first reported in the noon report on Tuesday, up from three cases a day earlier.

The 7 p.m. Daily Status Report lists 1,097 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up 37.1 percent from the 800 cases listed at 7 p.m. on Monday.

For the first time, the Daily Status Report listed the number of persons in the state hospitalized with the virus, 361, or 32.9 percent of the confirmed casts. The report listed 38 deaths, up from 26 a day earlier. The 38 deaths represent 3.5 percent of the confirmed cases.

Oconee County commissioners, responding to two requests on Monday that they issue a shelter-in-place order, said local action was unnecessary because the declaration of emergency by Gov. Brian Kemp “automatically puts Oconee County in a local state of emergency.”

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Spread To Surrounding Counties

The spread of confirmed cases of COVID-19 throughout the state has been dramatic in the last four days.

At 7 p.m. on the the 21st (Saturday), at least one confirmed case was reported by the Georgia Department of Health in 56 of the state’s 159 counties, or 35.2 percent.

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On Sunday evening, the virus was in 62, or 39.0 percent of the counties, and on Monday evening it was in 70 of 44.0 percent of the counties.

As of 7 p.m. on Tuesday, a confirmed case of the virus was in 88 of the 159 counties, or 55.3 percent.

The spread of COVID-19 encircled Oconee County during this time period.

On Sunday, only Barrow and Clarke among the counties bordering Oconee had a reported case of COVID-19.

On Tuesday, only Oglethorpe and Jackson counties had no reported cases. (Oconee intersects with the tip of Jackson County just north of Bogart where Barrow, Jackson, Clarke and Oconee come together.)

On March 17, a confirmed case of the virus had been reported in only 27 of the state’s counties, or 17.0 percent.

New Restrictions

The Oconee County web site outlines the requirements of Gov. Kemp’s executive order, which went into effect at noon on Tuesday and will remain in effect for 14 days.

It also notes that the Environmental Health Office is closing all restaurant dining rooms and limiting service to take-out, drive through, or delivery only.

Citizens are asked to report violations to the Oconee County Environmental Health Office at 706-769-7060.

“The Governor’s order requires individuals in a high-risk group to self-isolate, quarantine, or shelter in place in their residence,” the statement on the web site states.

“This group includes residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities, those with chronic lung disease, individuals undergoing cancer treatment, those with confirmed or suspected cases of Coronavirus, or those who have had contact with an individual diagnosed with Coronavirus,” according to the statement on the web.

“Oconee County also strongly encourages all individuals to follow this advice to limit social interactions,” the statement continues.

“In addition, no more than ten people may gather at any business or other establishment unless individuals are able to maintain at least six feet of separation at all times,” according to the statement.

“The Department of Public Health has the authority to close any business or organization that does not operate in compliance with this order,” according to the statement.


Anonymous said...

Whether you believe the seriousness of Covid-19 or not, it poses a huge risk to a significant percentage of our population. For example, the veterans of WW2, Korea, and Vietnam, like your grandparents or you own parents. Oh yeah, now showing young people are also seriously affected. Not to mention the health care community is overwhelmed in hot zones and that could be coming here.

So, why not lock down for a few weeks and allow professionals to study the data and get us back to normal rather than drag it our with more cases and higher long term risk? The answer is the "economy". The economy is going to be fine after we get past this and there are moves afoot to lessen the current pain.

This too shall pass, but not if we are foolish.

amanda said...

Agree completely with Anonymous 7:42 AM

This is only going to be worse if we put partial measures in place now and decide in two weeks they were lacking. "Strongly encouraging" individuals isn't enough and many companies won't close unless they are specifically told to do so. The median age of Oconee County residents is around 40, meaning 1 in 5 will need hospitalization (with the current info we now have). That doesn't even include residents who have heart attacks, etc who will also need hospitalization during this time. Are we so conceited we need to contribute to the problem rather than take stricter measures now to help alleviate the problem later?

Anonymous said...

Please read the AJC (Atlanta Journal Constitution) latest. Journalist, Jim Galloway, reports:
“On Tuesday the Georgia Municipal Association recommended that all 538 cities in the state declare public health care emergencies in an effort to tamp down the Coronavirus pandemic. The elected officials were presented an online presentation by Dr. Carlos del Rio, Executive Associated Dean for Emory at Grady Health System.”

Closer to home, I forwarded several emails to the BOC in regard to canceling the Oconee County Planning Commission meeting on March 16th. I referenced President Trump’s National Emergency and Governor Kemp’s Public Health Emergency. With these executive calls comes special powers and health directives. (More on my Facebook page.)

Other advisory boards had cancelled their meetings. We are living in a challenging time where sound decisions must be made. Vague statements by public officials will not address the need for responsible directions. During my 25 years working in the engineering services industry, I have seen environmental and toxic disasters and their impact on communities. We are at a greater level of concern.

The medical information is available to elected officials. Please act for the health, safety and welfare of the people of Oconee County..

Maria Caudill