Maj. Tommy Bradford says Dade cops will not be "harassing" people during shelter-in-place period.
Today's livestreamed Dade County COVID-19 update centered mostly on what local residents must do to comply with the shelter-in-place order Gov. Brian Kemp imposed on the state Wednesday, the upshot being that no one is quite sure yet exactly what that might be. "We can answer those questions after we see what the governor has coming down," said Dade County Executive Chairman Ted Rumley. Other states have instituted shelter-in-place laws but they differ from state to state, said Rumley.
And Tommy Bradford of the Dade County Sheriff's Office, which along with the Trenton Police Department must enforce the rules, agreed: "A lot of this is unknown for us."
Rumley said he expected the governor would provide more definite guidelines shortly but for now the parameters seems to be "essential" versus "nonessential" reasons that citizens are allowed to be out and about. Rumley said he's had questions from everybody from doctors to lawn care workers on whether they'd be allowed to go freely about their business. Some answers may have to wait for further instructions from the governor but Maj. Bradfod says for now it's fairly simple.
"Basically what we're telling people is there's a difference between wants and needs," said Bradford. "If it's a need, you're probably OK." Going tothe grocery store, doctor's office, drugstore, bank--all those basic errands of everyday life are fine, said Bradford; Going to play dates,sports event, playgrounds, birthday parties, not so fine.
Anyway, said Maj. Bradford: "We're not going to be out harrassing people. That's not what we're here for." But, he added: "If you're out riding around, we're going to ask you to go home."
County boss Rumley made it clear that the county transfer station would stay open for normal hours, an issue he said seems to be worrying many resident.
Rumley did not dwell much on the issue of closing down Cloudland Canyon State Park, an issue that dominated these livestreams earlier in the week, except to say he and the other commissioners will vote on a resolution pleading with the governor to close the park at this evening's county commission. Presumably they will also take up tonight the proposal Rumley set forth Wednesday, of accomplishing the same purpose by policing the county road that leads into the park.
But Rumley said the statewide shelter-in-place order will obviously affect park attendance. Travel for recreation at a park across the state would hardly seem "essential."
Superintendent of Schools Jan Harris read the open letter she sent out today to the county at large, a copy of which is available on The Planet's homepage. She summarized that remote learning for students will now be three days rather than four a week because of input the schools have received from beleagurered parents, some of whom are still having to work during this lockdown. And she consoled this year's seniors whom the pandemic crisis has deprived of their expected life-change rituals, promising that she and her staff are brainstorming how to provide them with some substitute.
The schools' free meal distribution for kids will continue, said the super, but probably procedures will change. She reminded all that next week is spring break and the schools will not provide food, but that the churches and community groups have stepped up to distribute meals next Monday and Wednesday, April 6 and 8, from 3-6 p.m. at Dade County High School.
She and Rumley reminded all of the free internet hot spots TVN is offering during the crisis for school kids out of class. They are at the White Oak Baptist Church parking lot on Sand Mountain, Veterans Park in downtown Trenton and New Salem Community Center parking lot. Rumley added that the county has long provided wi-fi at the Four Fields athletic complex on Highway 11 South, and The Planet will add that the Dade Public Library always provides it in the parking lot around the building. Rumley said he'd make sure local law enforcement knew wi-fi access for schoolwork was "essential" during the shelter-in-place period.
Speaking of the library and the internet, library manager Marshana Sharp said though the library remains closed until further notice, those desperate for something to read can email email@example.com and apply for a library card online. Then they'll be able to access books, magazines and videos from the library's digital services. Go to chrl.org to check out what's available. "I actually did six this morning, so people are using this service," she said. She also reminded parents to check the library's Facebook page to see what activities and fun the library staff had come up with for children during this strange time.
County Agent Sarah Dyer said her office is not authorized to provide "farmer credentials" to those worried law enforcement will stop them during the shelter-in-place order as they travel to tend their stock, but: "If you're headed to the grocery store you can tell them that; if you're headed to check your cows you can say that, too."
County boss Rumley gave the daily COVID-19 numbers as he does every day: Georgia is up to 5348 cases today from
4638 Wednesday, and in the same period Georgia deaths have gone up to 163 from 139. Dade still has only one reported case. You can access those numbers, updated twice daily, for yourself by clicking the Department of Public Health logo at right.
These updates are streamed live each day at 3 p.m. from the Dade County Georgia Facebook page, which if you "like" will notify you when the county goes live. You can also watch the video sessions after the fact there or on the Planet's Facebook page, where they are shared.