ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Over the last six months, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed 180 lives in Dougherty County.
Six months to the day after the COVID-19 pandemic hit Albany, leaders gathered to share how things have changed since March 11.
“We want to eliminate this virus from our community. And here, we have one more tool to fight the virus," said Albany Mayor Bo Dorough.
Since March 11, the city of Albany’s approach has changed, including a new mask mandate that is now in effect.
“Why now? Why not four months ago? Well, originally, there was some confusion. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) was saying, you know, ‘You don’t wear a mask.’ And that apparently was because there was concern about the supply of the masks. But then we were prohibited from doing so until the governor’s most recent order," said Dorough.
Mayor Dorough said Governor Brian Kemp’s first executive order prohibited local governments from enforcing more strict or lenient guidelines than what his order outlined.
Since then, Kemp’s order has changed.
Other approaches to the fight against COVID-19 in Albany have changed too.
“One of the things that we know is a tool is antibody testing. And through a unique partnership between the county, the city and the school system, we have pooled our dollars. We pulled the dollars that are public dollars, your tax dollars, in order to better and more efficiently purchase antibody testing for our community," said Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas.
Though this new study that is set to start next Wednesday, Cohlias said we can learn more about the area’s progress.
“We know that we have made tremendous progress through tremendous concerted effort from the citizens and government and businesses and the business community and all of our partners to overcome being number three in the world in terms of per capita infection to come to where we are at today. And our position today is very reasonable," said Cohilas.
Phoebe’s progress in fighting the virus has taken a positive direction as well.
They are down to 35 COVID-19 hospitalizations in Albany, and nine in Americus.
“Last time, we were at 44 patients between the two was July 3. So we have made significant progress as a community. And just to echo the comments of the chairman and the mayor, we have to do this as a community, and we have. But there is still work to do," said Scott Steiner, the CEO of the Phoebe Putney Health System.