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March 26, 2020: Coronavirus Community Call

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To download call notes, click here.

To donate, click here.

National and State Updates-Ben Moser

Ben gave the following updates for Day 14 of the National Emergency from the following media sources: The New York Times, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Miami Herald and The Los Angeles Times:

  • Senate approves a bill that promises a $1,200 payout to millions of Americans, increase jobless aide and creates a business bailout fund
  • The main provisions of the aid bill will be direct payments to individuals, historic boost for unemployment benefits, lending programs, support for airlines and airports, hospitals, and health and public safety
  • The bill will also include increased protection against evictions and foreclosures
  • Senate aid package is closer to $2.2 trillion
  • Biggest stimulus package in modern United States history
  • Miami hospitals going from competitive to cooperative; forming a coalition
  • 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment last week
  • Georgia Governor points to the city of Albany as making the case for social distancing. The Coronavirus has caused a full-blown health crisis in Albany, Georgia
  • Alabama experienced their first death in Jackson County on yesterday

Columbus Area Updates

Department of Public Health (Columbus Health Department)-Natalie Mann

Natalie gave the following updates:

  • They were 14 confirmed cases in our district on yesterday. As of this morning the number is 17; four in Muscogee County, six in Sumter, three in Crisp, one in Harris, one in Randolph, one in Macon and one in Taylor
  • Drive thru screenings continue at the Columbus Health Department, testing those that are symptomatic
  • Testing turnaround time is five to seven days
Muscogee County School District Update-Dr. David Lewis

Dr. Lewis gave the following updates:

  • Recent conference call with the Governor’s State Superintendent Advisory Council to discuss school closures
  • They hope to hear an announcement in the next day or so concerning school closures and/or reopening
Alabama State House Representative Update-Chris Blackshear

Representative Blackshear gave the following updates:

  • 144 new cases in the last 24 hours; 386 cases as of end of day yesterday
  • Up to 40 cases in Lee County; growing hot spot
  • First confirmed case in Russell County
  • Unemployment claims are rising; 1,434 filed the week of March 13; 9,347 filed the week of March 20; 17,000 filed by March 23
  • Locally trying to gather test kits and other needs for health care providers
President and CEO, East Alabama Chamber of Commerce-Dennis Beson

Dennis gave the following updates:

  • Communicating with the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce as well as Ft. Benning on a regular basis about different ways to help; their goal is to help people find answers
  • Keeping people informed about small business loans; sba.gov, madeinalabama.com, madeinamerica.com, governor.alabama.gov
  • Betsy added that the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce also has resources on their website
  • Jennifer Lowman of the city of Phenix City added that there are also resources on their website
River Valley Regional Commission-Jim Livingston

Jim gave the following updates:

  • River Valley Regional Commission covers Georgia; same footprint as West Georgia Department of Public Health
  • Counterpart in Alabama is Lee Russell Counsel of Government
  • Challenges: serves some of the poorest counties in Georgia; rural hospitals and clinics
  • Programs: Area Agency on Aging; providing meals and other services for seniors
  • Intake process is important; they take referrals from 211 and service providers
  • Hotline number is 706-256-2900 or 800-615-4370 for seniors needing extra help during this crisis
  • Ben asked Jim to email him with information for United Way website and social media
Piedmont Columbus Regional Update-Joel Ames

Joel gave the following updates:

  • They are in active treatment operation for COVID-19 patient care. The preparations made over the last few weeks have allowed them to switch into that mode almost seamlessly
  • In house site collected 20 samples yesterday for testing
  • No visitor policy continues with a few exceptions and case by case basis
  • Continuing to screen employees and taking temperatures
  • Supplies are currently adequate and being managed
  • Patient capacity is adequate; plans for expansion if needed
  • Appreciate all the support from the community for their health care professionals
Columbus Parks and Recreation Updates-Holli Browder

Holli gave the following updates:

Home for Good and Vulnerable Population Update-Pat Frey

Pat gave the following updates:

  • Webinar on yesterday with the committees on the Governor’s task force
  • Committee Chair Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms reiterated the six items that were submitted to the Governor for approval. They are as follows:
  • Prevent Additional People from Becoming Homeless
  • Support Enhanced Cleaning, Screening and Referral
  • Expand Testing for High-Risk Individuals and Areas
  • Establish a Reporting Process Specific to Homeless and Displaced Persons
  • Ensure Appropriate Options for Quarantine and Isolation are Available
  • Ensure Transportation Options are Available
  • Governor Virtual Town Hall meeting tonight at 8:00pm
  • Other items on the call included: temporary licensing for nursing graduates, reinstatement of license for doctors, pharmacy doing 90 days refills for medications, GEMA activation of the national guard if needed and request for 20 million in medical supplies
  • Working on a reporting mechanism in our area
Crisis Fund Update-Betsy Covington

Betsy gave the following updates:

  • Reminded callers that the fund is housed at the Community Foundation, but it is in partnership with United Way
  • Global Payment/ TSYS has made a $100,000 matching gift to the fund; they will match individual gifts to the fund up to $2,000 for a total of $100,000; more information can be found at CFCV.com/coronavirus
  • Betsy asked callers to include the link to the fund on their Facebook pages and websites
  • Planning to make grants from the fund starting next week

Open Forum Updates

St Anne Community Outreach-Katie Byers

Katie gave the following updates:

  • Numbers for the food pantry have doubled; 100 cars in line this morning
  • Food distribution days will be Tuesday and Thursday
  • Asking families to remain in cars for social distancing
  • Clients can call 706-568-1592 for recorded instructions
  • Katie Howard of Area Agency on Aging asked f there were any provisions for clients who are homebound. Katie answered that there are often two or three families in a care as neighbors are providing transportation for each other
MercyMed Updates-Billy Holbrook

Billy gave the following updates:

  • Still open and still seeing patients. However, their volume has decreased; Switching a lot of patients over to telehealth appointments
  • Still getting referrals from the Department of Public Health for coronavirus testing
  • Their turnaround time for test results varies from three to eight days
  • Community Zoom call on yesterday with MercyMed doctors discussing the coronavirus. The call was recorded and is on their Facebook page.
  • Please let them know if they can be of assistance to people in need

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