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April 15, 2020: Coronavirus Community Call

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National and State Update: Ben Moser

Ben gave the following updates for Day 34 of the National Emergency over the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 from national, state and local news sources:

  • One day after the IMS warned that the world could be facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, bleak economic news from around the world underscored the depth of the crisis including a preliminary report on United States retail sales in March which shows the biggest plunge in three decades of recordkeeping
  • Global stocks and oil prices tumbled Wednesday after the IMS report with the price of oil hitting a new 18 year low; demand in April will hit its lowest point since 1995
  • A team of government officials led by Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) have created a public health strategy to combat the coronavirus and reopen parts of the country, their strategy is part of a larger White House effort to draft a national plan to get Americans out of their homes and back to work. The report is available on washingtonpost.com
  • President Trump said that the United States will halt funding to the World Health Organization while his administration investigates what he called the group’s mismanagement of the coronavirus response
  • In Georgia, the coronavirus death toll rises to 524 in the state and positive cases rise to 14,578
  • In Alabama, Governor Ivey continues to stress social distancing as all indicators suggest that it is working

Columbus Area Updates

Columbus Consolidated Government Update-Mayor Skip Henderson

Mayor Henderson gave the following updates: 

  • The numbers continue to move up but at a slower rate; as of 7:00pm yesterday, there are 175 cases in Muscogee County
  • Expecting the numbers to continue to go up; Department of Public Health will be administering about 300-400 test over the next several days; new tests are able to get results faster; expecting the 20% ratio of those tested to continue to be positive; good news is once people are identified as being positive they can be quarantined
  • As a community there is still worked to do; continue social distancing and follow the Governor’s shelter in place order
  • The Mayor continues to be impressed with the spirit of the people of this community; outstanding stories of people going above and beyond
  • The Mayor is optimistic about slowing and reversing the curve on people going into the hospital; hospital surge in Georgia expected to hit around April 23,2020
Department of Public Health (Columbus Health Department) Update-Natalie Mann

Natalie gave the following updates:

  • There are 175 cases in Muscogee County; 51 in Dooley County, 47 in Macon County, 131 in Randolph County and 269 in Sumter County
  • There are 862 cases in the 16-county health district
  • The Columbus Health Department will be testing on Saturday from 9:00am-1:00pm
  • For updates visit the Georgia Department of Public Health website
  • Jim Livingston added that he appreciates the enhanced statics on the website
Muscogee County School District Update-Dr. David Lewis

Dr. Lewis gave the following updates:

  • Grading procedures have been released to the board and the public; details can be found on the school district’s website
  • First day of distribution of printed instructional packets is going well
  • Reminder starting next Monday, the feeding program will go from five days a week to three days a week. Less days but same number of meals
  • Working on virtual graduations; tentative date May 22, 2020
  • Live in person graduations are tentatively rescheduled for July 22-25; contingent upon health conditions
Alabama State House Representative Update-Chris Blackshear

Representative Blackshear gave the following updates:

  • There are 3970 confirmed cases in Alabama; 266 in Lee County; 216 in Chambers County; 30 in Russell County
  • There have been 34,000 people tested throughout the state
  • There are 525 people hospitalized statewide
  • There is a total of 115 reported deaths and 75 confirmed deaths
  • Call with Governor yesterday; discussed downstream impacts of employment throughout the state
  • For the calendar year of 2019 the Alabama Department of Labor processed 130,000 unemployment claims; in the last four weeks the Alabama Department of Labor is working through and processing 426,000 unemployment claims
  • Alabama is one of only three states that has a separate general fund and education budget education; education budget grows as unemployment rate drops; crisis could affect years to come
Russell County School District Update: Dr. Brenda Coley

Dr. Coley gave the following updates:

  • They have successfully transitioned to their distance learning platform
  • Alternate approach being used for students without internet access; i.e. instructional packets, telephone calls and hotlines
  • Teachers doing a great job keeping student engaged and learning
  • Expanding internet access for families throughout the district by providing additional hotspots
  • School nutrition is still providing meals at ten sites; will be going from 5 days to 3 days; they are doubling up meals but serving less days
  • Graduation date have not been decided
  • Check the school district’s website for updates.
Columbus Area Vulnerable Population Update
Home for Good Update-Pat Frey

Pat gave the following updates:

  • Nothing new to report today
Crisis Fund Update-Betsy Covington

Betsy gave the following updates:

  • The Community Foundation and United Way are announcing the second round of grant awards from the Coronavirus Response Fund
  • $537,500 has been awarded this week to organizations in our community that are working to serve the most vulnerable
  • Four organizations have been awarded $37,500 each; these organizations are addressing basic health and safety needs
  • St. Francis Emory Healthcare has been awarded a special $500,000 grant to enable the organization to increase COVID-19 crisis service available to the community. This gift comes from a special donation to the fund from an anonymous donor to increase local critical care capacity
  • Details for the grantees can be found at CFCV.com/coronavirus
  • Total amount of grants awarded from the fund so far $673,600
  • Grateful for the generosity of our community; continue to give
  • Investing dollars as carefully as possible
  • Reminder about the Coronavirus Impact Nonprofit Assessment Tool; this tool gives every nonprofit the opportunity to share their needs; reports can be downloaded for free at CFCV.com
  • If a central registration place for community volunteers is needed, please let Betsy or Ben know

Open Forum Updates

Columbus Public Library System Update: Alan Harkness

Alan gave the following updates:

  • The library is closed to the public; exploring ways to allow patrons to return materials
  • Hoping to reopen in May but depends on public health and what makes sense for staff and patrons
  • The Children’s Book Festival scheduled in May has been canceled
  • Looking at starting a summer reading program early and online programming
  • Wi-Fi is available at all locations on the outside of the building; security is there to monitor and make sure that people are practicing social distancing
  • Partnering with the YMCA at all three locations, for laptops to help with the healthcare workers there
  • Planning for how to protect the staff and the public once they reopen
MercyMed Update-Billy Holbrook

Billy gave the following updates:

  • Today at 3:00pm, MercyMed will host a Community Wide Zoom call on their Facebook page to present findings from the Community Wide testing, explain patient care and treatment and answer any questions that the community may have

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