If you think you might have a respiratory illness, call your primary care physician and get checked out to make sure you don’t have the COVID-19 virus.
That was some of the advice offered by Whitfield County Emergency Management Agency Director Claude Craig during the county’s live conference call, known as County Connect, on Thursday afternoon.
You can watch the entire program again online at https://livestream.com/accounts/25637515/events/7960637.
Craig also said that some people who have the virus don’t show symptoms and those who are showing symptoms may be contagious to others for up to 48 hours beforehand. That means it’s important for people to act like everyone around them has the virus and to take precautions like social distancing and frequent intense handwashing for 20 seconds.
Mr. Craig updated viewers on the latest statewide statistics through noon today, saying another 531 people have tested positive, another 138 have been hospitalized, and another 55 have died over the past 48 hours. Totals in Georgia are 5,348 positive tests, 1,056 hospitalizations, and 163 deaths. Median age of fatalities has been 73, but deaths have been from ages 29 to 96.
“We haven’t leveled the curve yet,” Mr. Craig said. “We’re still going upward and upward. The models are predicting the peak may be around April 23, so we’ve still got three weeks to deal with this before we even get to the peak before we start coming down the other way. We’ve got to stop the spread.”
Citing a new directive from President Trump, called “It’s 30 Days to Stop the Spread,” Mr. Craig said that residents need to listen to and follow directions of state and local authorities and stay home if they feel sick and away from older people and people with serious underlying health conditions that could make the virus deadly.
For reliable information about COVID-19, Mr. Craig suggested visiting coronavirus.gov on the Web or calling the state hotline at 844-442-2681.
Mr. Craig also noted that domestic violence calls have been on the rise during the crisis, likely because of people being cooped up together for days. He suggested domestic violence victims should call the national domestic violence hotline.
During Thursday’s call, Commission Chairman Lynn Laughter also updated the public about the resolution passed by the county and the four municipalities on Wednesday that expanded the list of businesses that must close until April 30 because they come in close personal contact with their customers.
That list now includes all barber shops, hair salons, day spas, tanning salons, massage parlors, and tattoo/body art studio, as well as children’s playgrounds. Parks will remain open for activities such as walking and bike riding, though people are urged to maintain six feet of separation between one another.
Of course, parts of that county resolution will likely be superseded by the shelter-in-place order issued by Governor Brian Kemp that went into effect Friday at 6 p.m.
In response to a question about drive-through testing in Whitfield County, Commissioner Laughter said that first responders, health care workers, and other front-line workers are being tested first at the health department. Other citizens should call their physician to request a code allowing the test.
Craig praised the staff at Hamilton Medical Center, where two people are hospitalized with COVI9-19 and another 14 are awaiting test results, and other health care facilities for “working more than wide open” during the crisis.
“Another thing, remember everybody that’s sick is not sick with COVID-19,” he said. “The hospital has a lot of sick folks in it as they do year-round, and those people are there and their families can’t get in to visit them with the coronavirus going around, so y’all keep everybody in mind at the hospital, the families, everybody that’s sick that we can try to keep in our prayers and hopefully they’ll get to come home.”
Test results for COVID-19 have been taking several days, but Mr. Craig said a new faster test is on the horizon, with results expected to be available in 45 minutes. He’s not sure when that test will be here.
While county offices are closed to the public, Commissioner Laughter pointed out that phone calls are still being answered and routed to the correct person to answer questions.
Residents are also invited to email their government officials, including commissioners Laughter (email@example.com), Harold Brooker (firstname.lastname@example.org), Roger Crossen (email@example.com), Greg Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Barry Robbins (email@example.com).
“We want you to feel like we are available,” Commissioner Laughter said. “We’ll try to answer your questions as soon as we can, so stay connected to Whitfield County. We want to be a resource for you. Just know that we care about each and every one of you. We’re having to make some pretty hard decisions, but those decisions are being made hopefully with your best interest at heart.”
The county will hold another live conference call on Tuesday, April 7 at 5 p.m., available for questions from the public at https://livestream.com/accounts/25637515/events/7960637.