2 COVID-19 deaths confirmed in SWGA
Albany, Dougherty Co. officials set new guidelines ahead of coronavirus outbreak
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The first coronavirus-related deaths in Southwest Georgia were reported to the state Wednesday morning, according to Phoebe officials.
Hospital officials said on Wednesday morning, they received 14 test results, including 13 positives for COVID-19. In total, Phoebe officials said they have 23 positive test results.
The two patients that died were being treated at Phoebe, according to hospital officials.
“The entire Phoebe Family is saddened to learn of the first COVID-19 deaths in our area. We remain committed to faithfully serving the needs of our community. Each day, we are caring for additional people we suspect may have COVID-19. Unfortunately, more deaths are likely to occur, and we will certainly see more positive cases as we receive more test results. We strongly urge everyone to heed warnings and practice proper social distancing. We need to do all we can now to try to slow the spread of the virus,” said Steven Kitchen, Phoebe chief medical officer.
Dougherty County officials are holding a press conference. Watch it below.
On Wednesday, Phoebe officials provided numbers related to the coronavirus at the hospital:
- Total positive results – 23
- Total positive patients in Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital – 8
- Total positive patients at home – 13
- Total positive deaths – 2
- Total inpatients awaiting test results at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital – 69
- Total inpatients awaiting test results at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center – 5
- Total inpatients awaiting test results at Phoebe Worth Medical Center – 1
- Total Patients Awaiting Test Results at Home – 330+
In response to the cases of COVID-19 in Southwest Georgia, the City of Albany said they are working closely with community partners through Emergency Management to stay up-to-date on the progression of the virus.
- All city facilities have been closed to the public including Albany Utilities, License & Business Support Office. The city is available to assist customers by phone and on their websites.
- Non-essential meetings and gatherings (public and internal), have been minimized, postponed or canceled.
- The City Commission will conduct a virtual meeting on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, using video conferencing technology.
- All press conferences are being live-streamed on Facebook, Channel 16, YouTube and on the city’s website to keep the public informed.
- Recreational activities are suspended including afterschool programs and sports programs.
- Employees that can work remotely will be allowed to do so.
- For the foreseeable future, essential employees will remain on-duty (i.e., police, fire, utility operations, etc.). Shifts may be modified as needed to provide coverage.
- Employees needing to care for someone potentially exposed to the virus will be allowed to work from home or may use leave necessary to cover absences.
- Employees who have health challenges are being encouraged to work from home or may use leave necessary to cover absences.
- Employees who report to work with a fever will be sent home or to their medical provider.
- Employees who are living in close contact with someone who has been ordered to quarantine will be required to work from home or may use leave necessary to cover absences in an abundance of caution.
- The city will endeavor to keep all affected employees in pay status and businesses that are able are encouraged to do so.
- Additional sanitizing of all facilities has been implemented in accordance with CDC guidelines.
- Hand-sanitizer stations have been located throughout the city and placed directly on buses.
- Elderly and vulnerable residents are encouraged not to congregate wherever possible.
- Callers to 911 are asked to identify symptoms consistent with COVID-19 before first responders arrive.
- Citizens who have symptoms of the virus need to contact Phoebe at (229) 312-1919.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler said he met with funeral home directors to discuss protocol after positive coronavirus cases were linked to two funerals.
Fowler said the funeral home was not at fault but changes will be made to services at this time:
- Graveside services will be with the family members only.
- Attendees must stay six feet away from each other.
- Those in and at the funeral must use hand sanitizer frequently.
- Funeral homes will stop using funeral vehicles, family members muse use their own cars.
- Family members can also watch the funeral virtually.
- If you are sick, do not come.
Superior Court Judge Willie Lockette informed the community that during the Jazzy Huff trial, a juror was recently tested positive for COVID-19.
“They actually served from March 9 through March 11. As a result, all 110 potential jurors together with the clerks, bailiffs, court officers and others in the courtroom or nearby may have come within six feet of the person who tested positive and may have been exposed,” Lockette said.
The court is sending written notices to those who were potentially exposed.
Dougherty County leaders are urging citizens that think they have symptoms to not go to the emergency room, instead call Phoebe’s hotline for drive-thru testing.
The hotline is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
So far, they have screened more than 500 calls and 101 have been tested. On Wednesday, around 1,000 calls came in and more than 100 people were tested.
Officials said do not show up unless you call first.
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