At today's COVID-19 briefing, Dade County Exec. Ted Rumley shows off one of about 2000 face shields made for county EMS workers by local manufacturer Integer. “It’s amazing the quality they put into these,” said the county boss.
Dade’s COVID-19 numbers are sharply up today, reported Count Executive Chairman Ted Rumley at today’s 3 p.m. county briefing—36 confirmed cases up from 29 yesterday. Rumley did not seem unduly disturbed by the hike but said the increase was expected with the greater availability now of testing. And he reminded that anyone wishing to be tested can do so for free and without getting out of the car six days a week outside the county Administrative Building. Call Dade Public Health at (706) 657-6181 for more information
And again, the numbers, while increased, continue to have some inexplicable haziness—there are 11 cases in Dade’s total that came from an antibody test the health department later decided shouldn’t be counted, as well, presumably, as five false cases from Dade Health & Rehab, the nursing home on Sand Mountain that recently had tests on four staffers and one resident come back positive the first time, then negative when they were retested. Rumley reported today that the nursing home has now run new tests on everyone on the premises from maintenance to patients. “Everything came out 100 percent negative,” he said.
[Nationally, nursing homes have been epicenters for the spread and mortality of COVID-19. But the Dade facility, which has carefully guarded its residents from infection, has remained so far unaffected by the trend.]
But the news was not all good--Rumley also pointed out increased virus cases in neighboring Alabama counties and especially Chattanooga. “We are really close to a hot spot,” he said. “Those numbers are escalating.”
Today’s Georgia numbers are 48,207 cases at this writing--47899 when Rumley reported at 3 p.m., 47,618 the day before—and 2102 deaths (2089 at Rumley’s report and 2074 the day before).
So the situation remains serious. “Don’t let your guard down,” said Rumley, but he encouraged residents to enjoy themselves outdoors nonetheless and had some good news on that front: Though the county ballfields did not as hoped open on Monday—still problems with tornado damage, said Rumley—the basketball and tennis courts are now, anyway, open. “Try to practice your social distancing while you’re down there,” he encouraged.
Dade County Deputy Clerk Carey Anderson had reminders from the county elections office: Early voting in the Administrative Building ends at 2 p.m. Friday. If you haven’t early voted by then, or turned in your absentee ballot, and you wish to vote on Election Day, next Tuesday, June 9, you must vote in your precinct polling place. (If you don’t know where that is, please see the county website, dadecounty-ga.gov.
If you requested an absentee ballot and received one, and still wish to vote in person instead, you may do so but please bring in the ballot and surrender it to a poll worker. And if you still have your ballot and want to mail it in, do so in plenty of time to get it in by Election Day. The Planet will add here that you can also put it in the drive-up ballot box outside the Administrative Building.
Picture IDs are required at the polls, and campaigning or campaign clothing—including baseball hats or T-shirts with your candidate’s name on them—are not allowed at the polls, reminded Ms. Anderson. She said 1000 people have voted by absentee ballot and 725 in in-person early voting. That’s nearly 1800 people total, she pointed out, but with nearly 9000 registered voters in the county there are still plenty of voters still out there unheard. Vote, she urged.
From left, Trenton Mayor Alex Case, City Clerk Russanna Jenkins and Deputy County Clerk Rebecca Jones.
After the COVID-19 briefing, Dade Emergency Services Director Alex Case, also the mayor of Trenton, held the “town hall” session that has become customary on Tuesdays, on the topic of what SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) does for the county and city. Dade’s one-cent-on-the-dollar SPLOST is up for renewal in a referendum included in next week’s ballot, and Case had brought in Deputy Dade County Clerk as well as Trenton City Clerk Russanna Jenkins to remind voters how important that penny is in preparing their budgets. “We would not be able to do it,” was the takeaway message here.
Case and the clerks reminded voters that not just buildings but fire trucks, firefighter equipment, computers and computer software are paid for by the SPLOST penny, and so are road repair and paving. Case added that Dade has to match federal LMIG (local management and improvement grant) money 30 percent to the feds’ 70 with SPLOST. He also mentioned the two ambulances including specialized equipment, the county owns. “I would hate to put those things in my budget,” said Case.
Another point he brought up is that if voters do not renew SPLOST next week, it will have to go back on the ballot the next year, and that elections are extremely expensive items for the county to budget.
Rumley said at Monday’s COVID-19 briefing that these livestreamed sessions will continue as daily events until the last shelter-in-place category is lifted on June 12, after which they will take place regularly only on Thursdays--though the county can go live at any time during an emergency, he added.
The Town Hall Tuesday segments seem largely concerned with SPLOST, the fate of which will be determined in next Tuesday’s general primary; but Case did not specifically say that next Tuesday’s town hall will be the final one.