Georgia Gov. Kemp purported on Monday to be encouraged enough by the statewide COVID-19 numbers, though they continue to surge--they jumped almost another thousand cases overnight, plus another 66 deaths since this time yesterday--to open the state back up for business. But there is no ambiguity at all about Dade's numbers. From the two the county had this time last week, cases went up to 10 at 7 p.m. Monday and gained another couple to climb to 12 at noon today.
"That's a pretty big jump," said Dade Executive Chairman Ted Rumley at today's livestreamed county briefing. He urged residents to use their common sense about taking advantage of the governor's easing of the stay-at-home restrictions. Those with conditions that might make them more vulnerable should continue staying at home if they could, and others should wear masks in public and remember social distancing guidelines. "We're sure not out of this," he said.
Asked by a listener whether he felt comfortable opening Dade back up, Rumley was also unambiguous in his answer. "No, I really don't," he said. "I've not seen the declining numbers."
(Those numbers are, for the state, 19,881 confirmed cases, up from 18,947 Monday, 799 deaths, up overnight from 733.)
But Rumley reminded listeners what happened last week when he and the other Dade officials had tried to discourage visitation at Cloudland Canyon State Park to avoid viral infection of the county through tourism. "We can't override the governor," he said. "We found that out."
He said Dade County government buildings will continue to be closed to the public while they are fitted with protective measures such as shields and partitions to keep employees safe. And he reminded that Kemp's declaration Monday is not an all-clear for the businesses allowed to reopen; they must adhere to social distancing and sanitation requirements. "Yes you'll be able to eat at your restaurants but it's going to be a whole different world when you go in there," said Rumley.
He said he'd received multiple calls from small businesses, such as hair salons, puzzled by the new guidelines, asking, "What can I do and what can't I do?" The governor's guidelines are spelled out in his executive order. Click his photo at left to go directly there.
Rumley pointed out that Tennessee's public health department provides recovery numbers for its COVID-19 cases. For example, of Hamilton County's 188 cases, the data show 66 are recovered and 12 dead. Georgia does not provide that information, so in Dade, he said, we know one of our dozen has died but not whether the others are walking around well by now, are still sick, or for that matter no longer reside in Dade at all.
Speaking of tests, there is now a testing site in Walker for Dade and the other northwestern counties. The number there is (706) 802-5329. Asked by a listener if Dade would gets its own testing site, Rumley replied: "We're working on it."
Emergency Management Director, and incidentally Trenton Mayor, Alex Case also reminded all that despite the easing of restrictions, the governor's stay-at-home is still in effect and people with compromised health should stay at home. "Stay-at-home was to slow the curve and for us the curve is still growing," he said. Churches may open now but should remember to enforce social distance rules, he said. He joined Ted Rumley in disagreeing with Gov. Kemp about opening up the state. "I don't think it's time," he said.
Deputy Dade clerk Carey Anderson read the governor's guidelines and reminded those who go back to work now to check them and make sure their employers are doing what they're supposed to to keep employees safe. Everyone should avoid nonessential travel, stay six feet apart at meetings, and work at home if they or those they live with are particularly vulnerable because of underlying health conditions, say the guidelines. "If you don't feel safe going out, don't go out," she said.
Sgt. Chad Payne, speaking for the Dade County Sheriff's Office, told residents not to panic because the local COVID-19 cases had gone up to 12. "The reason you may be seeing this bounce is they've approved more tests," he said. He said he and his wife, a nurse, had taken the COVID-19 case in Walker County and the place had been swamped. "Don't panic just because you see a bump in the numbers," he said.
These briefings are livestreamed from the Dade County Ga. Facebook page at 3 p.m. every day. "Like" the page and you'll be notified when the county goes live. Alternatively, you may watch the video afterwards either on the county's page or The Planet's, where they are routinely shared.