In the absence of any action by the governor to close Cloudland Canyon State Park, Dade law enforcement will start patrolling the county road into the park this Friday to turn away incomers from lockdown states, said Dade Executive Chairman Ted Rumley at today's livestreamed COVID-19 update. "We're going to do what's right for Dade County," he said.
Rumley said he'd met with Robin Rogers, the county attorney, as well as Dade Sheriff Ray Cross and some of his senior officers, all of whom were on board with the idea of acting unilaterally to protect county residents from the potential influx of the deadly virus. He said he and state Sen. Jeff Mullis would meet with officials of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday to explain the county's intentions.
"We want to do things right by the law," said Rumley. He said the county wanted to make sure it wasn't exposing itself to lawsuits but that it also didn't want tourists bringing virus into local grocery stores and gas stations.
Dade and other counties across the state have pled with Gov. Brian Kemp to close the state parks in their areas to protect their citizens from infection by tourists, but the governor has steadfastly refused to do so.
In his regular daily report, Rumley acknowledged that Dade is up from two coronavirus cases Monday--one of whom has died--to three by today's Georgia Department of Public Health figures. "This particular one, we actually knew about it in a more indirect way," he said. But he hadn't been able to announce it from Friday until today, after DPH did, because of the red tape imposed on local officials in the public health infectious disease process. This is what he and other local officials are trying to iron out with the state, said Rumley. "They're kind of left in the dark until days later," he said.
But Rumley's tone was reassuring about the county's three confirmed COVID-19 cases, which he described as all on Lookout Mountain and "all in the same little area."
Otherwise, though the Georgia numbers continue to swell alarmingly--501 deaths up from 462 Monday, 14,223 confirmed cases up from13,315 Monday--nearby rural counties do not look that bad. Walker next door went from six to seven cases, in Alabama, Jackson is still at 27 and DeKalb added one, going from 27 to 28; in Tennessee, Marion went from 25 to 26.
In other business, Rumley said Dade elections supervisor Lowanna Vaughan was concerned that many of the requests for absentee ballots the state recently sent out were being sent back, either because of problems with signatures--remember, said the county boss--husbands and wives cannot sign for each other--or with addresses. If you are confused, Ms. Vaughan's number is (706) 657-8170, and you can pick up fresh requests for absentee ballots outside her Administrative Building office. Or, reminded Rumley, you don't have to vote absentee at all: "There's going to be a real election," he said. The primary election has been put off until June 9 but--barring any other catastrophe crippling the state--it will still happen.
Speaking of catastrophes, Emergency Services Director Alex Case reported on the post-storm cleanup (see ensuing article). Industrial Development Authority director William Back came on to invite anyone interested in learning what crisis benefits might be available to small business through IDA to get in touch with him. Here's his contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org or (423) 667-3889.