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July 15, 2020: Coronavirus Community Call

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July 15, 2020: Coronavirus Community Call

National and/or State News Updates-Ben Moser

Ben gave the following updates concerning the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 from national, state, and local news sources:

The New York Times: 
  • More than 3,445,500 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 136,300 have died, according to a New York Times database.
  • Case numbers are surging throughout most of the United States, including in many states that were among the first to reopen. Because the number of people hospitalized and the percentage of people testing positive is also rising in many of those places, the case spike cannot be solely explained by increased testing.
Elevated Issue of Local Concern or Awareness-Ben Moser
  • In an editorial published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), CDC reviewed the latest science and affirms that cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 that could reduce the spread of the disease, particularly when used universally within communities. There is increasing evidence that cloth face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.
  • “We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield. “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”

Economic Sector and Impact Area Updates 

State of Alabama Update-Governor Kay Ivey

Governor Ivey gave the following updates:

  • Thanked Ben Moser and United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley for offering her the opportunity to join the call today
  • Many on the call are on the front lines of battling the pandemic and are playing a vital role in lifting Alabama up during these challenging times
  • After Alabama had its first confirmed case of COVID-19 back in March she knew that Alabama had to act quickly to ensure the best possible outcome on behalf of the people of the state  
  • Unfortunately, this meant that they had to change the way they approach everyday life and find ways to safely move forward together
  • Some businesses were forced to drastically change the way they operate and, in many cases, temporarily close their doors
  • She has been proud to work with community leaders throughout Alabama to find ways to ease the burdens that communities are facing and to find ways to safely put the state back to work
  • The safety of Alabama citizens is her utmost priority; she appreciates the role that each caller is playing in their communities to ensure that happens
  • She and her team are always available when they are needed
  • Continue to ask God to bless each of us and the great state of Alabama
Columbus Consolidated Government Update-Mayor Skip Henderson

Mayor Henderson gave the following updates:

  • Thanked Governor Ivey and her team for their hard work to protect the citizens of Alabama. Because we do share a border between Columbus and Phenix City they are helping Georgia as well
  • The city continues to wrestle with ways to encourage people to help stop the spread of COVID-19
  • Since the first of July through yesterday there has been a 50% increase in the number of people needing hospitalization due to COVID-19; there were just under 90 new positive cases yesterday
  • They are watching the rolling 7-day average; right now, the daily average of positive cases is 110 which is much higher than they would like for it to be
  • They continue to urge people to wear mask, practicing social distancing and wash their hands frequently
  • They are seeing some businesses that are requiring mask for people to enter their place of business
  • Beginning tomorrow, Columbus Consolidated Government will begin requiring mask in all their buildings; they will not deny access but if a person is not wearing a mask, security will provide one for them
  • GEMA (Georgia Emergency Management Agency) has given the city of Columbus about 30,000 masks; over the next several weeks the fire department will be stationed outside of stores and giving away mask to the public to help flatten the curve
  • Things are moving forward; we will get through this; it will take all of us working together
Muscogee County School District Update-Dr. David Lewis

Dr. Lewis gave the following updates:

  • They continue to monitor the numbers as to how they might impact school reopening
  • The district released two documents yesterday; one document is an information brief of what school will look like under the Choice Model (virtual or in person) the other document describes the district’s mitigation strategies
  • Reopening is still scheduled for August 10, 2020 depending on health conditions
  • The school district recognizes that they are an important part of the economic health of the community, however, they want to make sure that they are opening up in a safe manner for the 32,000 children and over 6,000 employees that they are responsible for; they will try to make the best decision possible going forward
  • Information is posted on their website muscogee.k12.ga.us
FoodFeeding the Valley Update-Frank Sheppard

Frank gave the following updates:

  • Feeding the Valley is back up and running after a volunteer and two employees tested positive for COVID-19 last week; the volunteer is recovering, and the two employees remain asymptomatic in quarantine
  • The facility and the fleet have been deep cleaned and sanitized
  • Facilities in Lagrange and Albany were not affected
  • No one went without food; they did have to delay a few distributions but those have been done; partner agencies are back shopping at the warehouse
  • The supply chain has cleared up and they have an abundance of food; they anticipate distribution of 1 ½ million pounds of food a month
  • They are working again with United Way and other community partners to fill the gap in the school district feeding program when the summer feeding program ends and before the school year begins; this will begin on Monday
HealthPiedmont Columbus Regional Update-Scott Hill

Scott gave the following updates:

  • Due to scheduling, this is his first opportunity to join the call; he thanked others for representing Piedmont Columbus Regional on the calls; honored to be able to give an update this morning
  • Thanked everyone on the call for their continued support of the organization
  • Reminded everyone the importance of wearing a mask and hand washing to keep themselves and others safe
  • Piedmont hospitals in Columbus are busy, they have seen an uptick in volume due to COVID-19 as well as a non-COVID-19 related. During the first part for the spring going into the summer some people put off their health care and the effects of that are being seen now
  • They are working diligently to manage elective and outpatient volume in a safe and effective manner
  • There is currently a no visitors policy; while this is difficult it is necessary for safety which is the number one goal everyday
  • The 11 hospitals in the Piedmont system continue to have daily command center calls
  • Supplies, equipment and PPE are in good shape; however, staffing is tight everywhere
  • They will open Doctors Hospital 5th floor if needed
  • Piedmont does offer COVID-19 testing at their urgent care on Blackmon Road by appointment only; testing demand has gone up; results usually come back in a 4-6-day time frame
  • Thanked everyone again for their continued support of the healthcare system
St. Francis Emory Healthcare Update-Melody Trimble

Melody gave the following updates:

  • Appreciate the opportunity to talk to everyone; they are busy yet doing everything they can to protect patients and staff
  • Their command center has been up for 129 days; they continue to monitor the use and needs of equipment, resources, staff and physicians to ensure quality and safety
  • Stressed the use of masks, hand washing and social distancing
  • They have the capacity to open additional beds if needed and they are hiring additional staff
  • While there is a rise in COVID-19 they have other sick patients that need care as well
  • Very proud of her team and this community; everybody works together
  • Now is also an opportunity to focus on what the future looks like for health care
HousingHome for Good/United Way Update-Pat Frey

Pat gave the following updates:

Grants/Projects Update-Betsy Covington

Betsy gave the following updates:

  • This week grant award is to T.E.A.R.S. (Teens Empowerment Awareness with Resolutions), Inc.
  • Total grants awarded to date from the fund are $1,026,031; thanked the community for their support and generosity; 63% for healthcare, 20% for food insecurity, 9% for financial assistance, 6% for housing and shelter support, 2% for children and youth services
  • If you are a non-profit in need of assistance go to cfcv.com/coronavirus

Making Connections (Open Forum) Updates

Georgia Department of Public Health (Columbus Health Department) Update-Jack Lockwood

Jack gave the following updates:

  • Due to the increase in demand, the Health District is testing by appointment only
  • Due to the heat the Columbus Health Department is testing from 7:00am-11:00am by appointment only; testing continues at the 2100 Comer Avenue location; no testing at the new location on Veterans Parkway; hoping that testing times will improve as they have three lanes open and appointments are scheduled one every five minutes; they will be testing this Saturday from 9:00am until 12:00noon by appointment only; anyone can be tested whether or not they have symptoms as long as they are a Georgia resident or have a critical  job in Georgia
  • To make an appointment go to the West Central Health District website westcentralhealthdistrict.com you can also call the COVID-19 Line at 706-321-6000
  • Reminder to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash hands
  • The health department is also working on a comprehensive list of testing sites to refer people to if need be
  • If anyone would like to reach him directly his contact information is  706-321-6300 or  Jack.Lockwood@dph.ga.gov
  • See attached information on Quarantine Guidance and Return to Work Guidance
  • Return to Work Guidance After COVID-19 Illness or Exposure for Persons Who Are Not Healthcare Personnel
  • Quarantine Guidance: What to do if you were exposed to someone with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
MercyMed Update-Billy Holbrook

Billy gave the following updates:

  • MercyMed offers testing at their clinic by appointment; demand has increased, and they are about 7-10 days booked
  • Testing sites are at or beyond capacity; asked if there are any physicians on the line that are interested in offering testing to please contact him at billy@mercymedcolumbus.com
  • Due to the COVID-19 spike they have switched to telemedicine appointments instead of in person

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