Habersham up to 7 cases as DPH pleads with Georgians to heed warnings

  • COVID-19

   There are at least seven Habersham County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 as of 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
   As Georgia reached Day 5 of Gov. Brian Kemp’s shelter-in-place order, Habersham Medical Center began requiring members of its staff to wear masks at all times Tuesday.
   Prior to that, only staff members treating COVID-19 patients directly were so required. CEO Lynn Boggs said the staff was following guidelines from the Center for Disease Control, which “evolve frequently,” Boggs said.
   HMC had done 62 tests as of Tuesday afternoon and had three positive results – the first group to test positive at the facility – including one non-Habersham resident, one Habersham resident who was treated at Northeast Georgia Health Center and the third is the lone COVID-19 patient being treated at HMC, at press time.
   At 7 p.m. Tuesday, the Department of Public Health reported there were 9,156 cases statewide, with 1,899 hospitalized and 348 deaths (3.8%). Those numbers shot up dramatically from just the noon report seven hours earlier.
   Dougherty County reported 56 deaths, nearly more than any other two Georgia counties combined.
   Hall County had the most cases (215) to also have no reported deaths. White, Stephens, Rabun and Banks counties also have no reported fatalities as of press time Tuesday.
   DPH released a statement late Tuesday to encourage Georgians to heed directives as evidence of the spread grows.
   “The numbers of cases and deaths from COVID-19 have steadily increased in Georgia and around the country in recent days. These numbers are dramatic, and the grief over loved ones lost to the virus is unfathomable. With more testing, the numbers will continue to increase,” the DPH release said. “Without question, these numbers also tell us that COVID-19 is widespread throughout Georgia. The Georgia Department of Public Health is calling on all Georgians to do their part to stop further spread of this deadly virus.”
   In addition to social distancing, hand washing and staying home unless it’s absolutely necessary to get vital supplies, the CDC now recommends wearing face coverings, particularly in places like the grocery store.
   “We know that increased testing means the number of positive cases will increase. But along with that, we are also seeing further spread of COVID-19 throughout Georgia,” said Dr. Kathleen E. Toomey, DPH commissioner. “We can stop the spread of COVID-19 in Georgia, but every Georgian must take personal responsibility now and follow the prevention guidance to keep this deadly virus from taking any more precious lives.”