This is a belated synopsis of Friday's Dade County daily COVID-19 briefing. Notable guests were Probate Judge Kerri Bray Carter, Dade Public Library manager Marshana Clark and Southeastern Lineman Training Center owner David Powell, and all had news:
But first, the numbers: Dade on Friday had gone up to 16 confirmed cases. (It has since added one for a total of 17.) Nearby Walker County was still at 59 and Jackson in Alabama at 43, but DeKalb had gone from 58 to 61. "As you see, the numbers are still going up, not as drastically as they have been in the last several weeks," said Dade County Executive Chairman Ted Rumley. "Don't let your guard down because it's still here." Wear your mask in public, he urged.
Reporting on the post-tornado cleanup, Rumley said to call the commission office--(706) 657-4625--if you have still have brush you want the county to pick up at curbside. The county's still offering this service but it doesn't have a regular route so you need to make your needs known. He said he'd had questions about the Four Fields athletic complex opening up but reported it had sustained damage to its lighting system during the Easter tornado which must be fixed before the county opens the fields back up.
April 30 is the last day of Georgia's shelter-in-place order, said Rumley, and the county offices will open back up next Monday, May 4, for business as normal--or as normal as possible, added the county boss; don't expect things to be quite the same as they were. "We're living in a different time," he said.
Probate Judge Kerri Carter was up next. For her court, May 13 is the big date, she said--as of that date, probate will being taking new applications for gun permits and marriage licenses. If your gun carry permit expired within 30 days before March 14, the day the judicial order came, effectively closing the courts, the expiration paused at that time and you'll still have time to renew without being fingerprinted again, said Judge Carter.
All probate business will be taken up throughout the next couple of weeks through appointment, said the judge, which she hopes will help the court maintain required social distancing while at the same time dealing with what she expects to be increased demand. Probate petitions may still be mailed in or slid under the door, which also goes for birth and death record requests. All traffic court dates are postponed until June.
If you need help with any of this, or have questions, said the judge, please feel free to call the court at (706) 657-4414. The fax number is 657-4305.
Dade Public Library manager Marshana Sharp also had reopening news. The library, closed since March, will reopen Tuesday, May 5. Open days will be limited--only Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 10-11 a.m. The first hour of the day, 10-11 a.m., will be reserved for the elderly and vulnerable health-wise, such as asthmatics. Or, said Ms. Sharp: "If you still don't want to come in, we'll do curbside service." Just call the library at (706) 657-7857.
Also call the library if you'd like to donate masks the library can hand out to its patrons, said Ms. Sharp.
The library's popular children's story time and other programs will not resume just yet, said Ms. Sharp, because of the social distancing rules still in place. Only so many people will be allowed inside the library at once, so patrons will be encouraged to do their library business and then move on to let somebody else have a turn. In the computer room, library staff will clean each keyboard before issuing it to a patron, and the staff also has procedures in place to sanitize the books that come in before they are checked out again.
In that regard, the library drop box is open again this week if you have books to turn in you've been holding onto during the quarantine.
David Powell, co-owner of Trenton's Southeastern Lineman Training Center appeared in Friday's livestream to talk about what his school was doing to keep Dade safe from COVID-19 even as it reconvenes for its next 16-week training course, which begins May 4.
First, Powell explained why the school remained open as other across the nation closed during the lockdown. It trains workers for the electricity and telecommunications industries, which are considered "critical infrastructure sectors," vital to national security. And obviously, with training areas including climbing poles and doing linework, said Powell: "It's not something that we can instruct remotely."
But he understood Dade's concerns about spreading the virus, said Powell, considering SLTC's students come in from all over the nation. To make sure the school doesn't contribute to the pandemic, he said, it had established the following initiatives:
First, the school has committed the students to self-isolation. Incoming trainees must attest they haven't tested positive for COVID-10 in the past 14 days and are not waiting for results of a test taken during the period. They must not have symptoms of the deadly virus or have been in recent contact or living with anyone who has. They must self-quarantine at home 14 days before coming to Trenton to start their course.
Second, SLTC will health-monitor the students while they are enrolled in school. Some of the students scheduled to start in May have postponed to a later date, but the ones who chose to go ahead and enroll in the May class have agreed to allow the school to take their temperature each day. They also agree to stay within 50 miles of campus. If they have to travel outside the Chattanooga metro area for an emergency, they must self-quarantine after that. If students break the rules, they may lose their tuition and their place in the class. "We hold these students to high standards," said Powell.
Additionally, the school has installed ultraviolet lights in the air conditioning system to destroy microbes in all enclosed areas of all campuses. There is also an enhanced daily cleaning schedule at the college, and a deep cleaning was done after the last class left. Everything has been bleached including the picnic tables, said Powell.
Powell said academic subjects can be taught remotely, and the outside lineman training is easy to do within social distancing guidelines. CDC posters are all over the campus and so are hand sanitizer stations. "We've provided students with face masks when they're out in community," said Powell. "It's unique, obviously, to this class."
Finally, SLTC has placed an order for 300 COVID-19 tests. "It is our intention to test these students upon arrival," said Powell.
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.