Today's Georgia COVID-19 numbers are 23,773 confirmed cases statewide with 942 deaths, up from 23,481 and 916 Sunday. Closer to home, Dade is up one more case today, moving from 16 to 17. Of neighboring counties, Walker stayed the same at 59, Hamilton in Tennessee is up from 140 to 141, Marion is at 28, Jackson in Alabama the same at 45, DeKalb up from 63 to 71.
Those numbers are according to County Executive Ted Rumley at today's livestreamed county briefing. Rumley said the private testing facility in LaFayette in the Walmart area, which serves Dade and other northwestern counties, has stopped antibody testing because it has run out of kits. "Now, if you have the symptoms, that’s another story,” said Rumley. In that case, you can go to the testing facility at the in Walker health department and get the nasal swab test free.
[You can call the district health department at (706) 802-5329 if you think you have the symptoms and be set up for a free test, The Planet ascertained--you don't need a physician's referral. Antibody testing is done by the private Ready Clinic in LaFayette, a private walk-in medical facility, (706) 620-0200.]
Rumley said he is still trying to get a facility set up to do testing in Dade at least one or two days a week. He said Memorial CHI had been unable to help with supplies: “They’ve got a problem, too," he said. He said he had another couple of outlets he was investigating and was looking into getting help from GEMA, the Georgia Emergency Management Authority.
Speaking of emergencies, the county boss pointed out it was nine years ago today that tornadoes ripped through Dade, killing two people. He said cleanup from the Easter tornado this year was proceeding smoothly but another killer storm was not out of the question. “We are right in the middle of the season,” he said.
Rumley said hair salons and restaurants are opening today in Dade as elsewhere after the governor's executive order last week--“I think it’s a little bit early”--and that all have strict guidelines they must follow to keep customers safe. “Patronize them if you feel comfortable,” he said. If you go to a business and are not comfortable that it is going by the guidelines, Rumley said, you can report it at the compliance hotline, (844) 442-2681. “Don’t feel bad about doing it,” he said. “They’ve got to play by the rules if we’re going to fight this thing and win.”
Dade Emergency Services Director and Trenton Mayor Alex Case, reporting on tornado cleanup, said city brush pickup is every Thursday. Please call (706) 657-4167 if you have brush you need picked up, he said. [If you're in the county, the number is (706) 657-4625--Dade is also picking up for the time being but also needs to be informed you need the service.]
Case had no good news yet about getting government individual help for the those whose homes were destroyed or badly damaged in the Easter tornado, though most of those were uninsured--11 of the 12 destroyed and four of the 11 with moderate to severe damage. The Red Cross is helping the uninsured with housing, said Case, and Case is stil looking for reasonable rentals: Call him at (706) 657-4111 if you can help.
Please also call that number if you are interested in volunteering to help the uninsured with brush cleanup or home repair.
Case said restaurants around town that had opened back up today were doing a good job of following the social distancing guidelines, closing off every other table or booth. He said he didn't know yet about whether the Trenton city pool would open on time or not this year--the rules for that are in reopening's Phase 2 or beyond, which haven't started yet. “It’s a big question,” he said.
Usually the city pool opens around Memorial Day.
Case said the city and county are bracing for a second wave of sickness expected after the partial reopening, and asked residents to be patient and tolerant during these trying times.
Case, under the double whammy of pandemic and tornado, seemed grim and tired. But hope springs eternal in the human breast and in none more than that of Dr. Jan Harris, Dade's perpetually perky superintendent of schools. And Dr. H. had very glad tidings indeed today: A drive-in ceremony planned for a socially-distant graduation for this year's crop of seniors, plus tentative dates for a more up-close-and-personal one, not to mention a senior prom. She urged all to read all about it in her "Superintendent's Weekly Message" issued today. You can find that on The Planet's homepage (or click on the super's pic here to get there chop-chop).
Meanwhile, though, here's the short version: The socially distant graduation will be at the Wilderness Drive-In Theater in Wildwood at 9 p.m. on Friday, May 22. Wait for more information from James Fahrney, principal at Dade High, on how to get your ticket, said Dr. H. The tentative date for the "real" in-person ceremony is Friday, June 26. Tentative prom date is June 19. “So just hold on for more information on that," said the super.
Also be watching for information from each principal about year-end celebrations at their individual schools, she said. Ms. Blevins is planning a parking lot gala at Dade Elementary, said Dr. Harris. “It’s going to be epic,” said Dr Harris.
May 15 will be the last day of instruction at the schools, which have continued teaching via the internet since the governor closed the schools in March.
Tommy Bradford of the Dade Sheriff's office came on briefly to say all went smoothly at Cloudland Canyon State Park this weekend. The gates did have to be closed when park visitors exceeded the permitted limit, but Department of Natural Resources law enforcement handled that and the sheriff's office was not called in.
Dade County Deputy Clerk Carey Anderson appeared at the end of the briefing to remind all to fill out their U.S. Census questionnaires and to announce that early voting in the dealyed Georgia primary starts May 18. In-person voting is at the Administrative Building only, but remember you can also vote by absentee ballot.
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.