"Things are escalating," said Dade County Executive Chairman Ted Rumley at today's live-streamed briefing on "The Situation," the ongoing nationwide lockdown caused by the coronavirus.
Dade still has no known cases, but COVID-19 deaths are up in Georgia from three yesterday to 10 today. Reported cases in Georgia are up to 287, with many more counties now reporting illness. Readers may check out the numbers for themselves by going to the Georgia Public Health site--click the agency's logo at right to go there directly.
The county boss said most restaurants in Dade had closed their dining rooms and gone to takeout only. (A partial list of which restaurants are doing what is included below in this article.) He advised employees who have lost their jobs during this crisis--at restaurants or otherwise--to apply for unemployment benefits immediately. The state is trying to make it easy for you, said the county boss. You can apply online at dol.georgia.gov.
Dr. Jan Harris, superintendent of schools, sent virtual hugs and kisses to students--that's the only kind allowable under today's social distancing rules--and repeated from Wednesday that school buses would be running Monday and Wednesday next week approximately four hours behind their usual pickup times to deliver meals to any kids 2-18. Parents may instead pick up meals for their children from10 a.m.-1 p.m. on those days at Dade Elementary or Davis Elementary. She urged students to stick to their normal schedules and do their remote learning faithfully.
Lindsay Ryan of the Dade Health Department said COVID-19 tests are now available from the health department but at "undisclosed locations." "That is due to the limited number of tests," she said. Only patients already diagnosed as symptomatic would be tested , she said.
She repeated the health department's abiding contention that most people didn't need the test anyway. "If you are well, you do not want to show up at a testing site," she said. You would only expose yourself to infection by people who did have the virus, then take it home to your family, she said. She once again gave out the Georgia COVID-19 hotline number for those worried they might have symptoms: (844) 442-2681,
Kathy Johnson of DFACS (the Department of Family and Children Services) said her office was still open for business though it is trying to limit the number of people in its waiting room. Most business can anyway be done by telephone, she said--call (706) 657-7511.
Tommy Bradford of the Dade County Sheriff's Office reminded all that jail visitation has been suspended though video visitation is still possible. To sign up for that, or to send money to inmates, readers may go to jailatm.com. Bradford also said admittance to the sheriff's office is now limited to staff only. If you need a copy of a report, call the office at (706) 657-3233.
Both he and Emergency Services Director Alex Case reminded all that if you have an emergency to report you may still call 911, or if you need to report a nonemergency the number is (707) 657-4111. "Everything is still business as usual," said Case.
Local businesses have been sending out alerts of their own changes in deference to the international emergency. Here are a few:
State Farm has alerted its customers that many of its employees are working at home, and asked that they do business by phone, email or through its website.
Here is an excerpt from a release by Moore Funeral Home: "According to the CDC, at this time, there is no known risk associated with being in the same room at a funeral or visitation service with the body of someone who died of confirmed or suspected COVID-19; however, federal, state and local public health guidance may impact the size of gathering a family is able to plan. Depending on a family’s preferences, their loved one can be safely embalmed. Families may choose either burial or cremation as usual.
The CDC suggested that events should consist of 50 people or less until May 10. They further advised that those who are ill and are at-risk (e.g., elderly, immune-compromised) should be encouraged to stay home. The White House released guidelines that people 'Avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people' until March 31. It would appear this would impact funerals/viewings in that they would be limited perhaps to immediate family only."
But the funeral home stressed it was still there for its clients. Readers may call Moore at (706) 657-4382.
Trenton Telephone announced that effective today, March 19, it will be closing its front lobby until further notice. Customers can call the office at (706) 657-4367 for services and information. They can pay phone bills over the phone, mail checks to P.O. Box 216, Trenton, GA 30752, or use a debit or credit card to pay online at www.tvn.net. Click on the blue link at the top of the page that reads PAY MY BILL. There will be no interruption of services due to nonpayment during the state of emergency but customers will need to contact the company to set up payment arrangements.
As previously reported, TVN has set up free wi-fi hot spots for kids to use for remote learning at the following locations: Veterans Park (beside the Dade library and jail), White Oak Baptist Church parking lot and New Salem Community Center parking lot. The hours for these spots will be 8 a.m to 8 pm. The wi-fi network name will show up on your device as TVNTTC2.4g or TVNTTC5g. There is no password required to use this service.
The Planet checked with some of the local restaurants to learn which have remained open. Those that still have dining room service include Tres Amigos, Canyon Quick Stop, Big Woods Cafe, Cafe 136 and Jefferson's--though Jefferson's says it only has eight tables open for dining in. Tres Amigos says it is sitting diners far apart in booths. Cafe 136 also has drive-through service.
Rafael's, Lalito's and Thatcher's BBQ have all moved to takeout service only. If your favorite restaurant wasn't listed here, please call it directly.
From The Planet's favorite cop, Sgt. Chad Payne, comes this bulletin from the Dade County Sheriff's Office: "Sheriff Cross has instructed his deputies to assist our most vulnerable citizens (sick and elderly) with picking up their pre-paid groceries and/or medication from local grocery stores and local pharmacies, on an as-needed basis."
And speaking of grocery stores, the Trenton Ingle's and Food City have begun closing at 10 p.m. until further notice. Food City asks that the hour between 7-8 a.m. in the morning be reserved for those shoppers over 65. Food Outlet is "business as usual"--it has always closed at 9 p.m. and will continue to do so.
The county will continue to live-stream its updates from its Facebook page each day at 3 p.m., including over the weekend.