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December 16, 2020: Coronavirus Community Call

• Coronavirus
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The Weekly Coronavirus Response Update Call will not take place on December 23 and December 30. The call will resume on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. If there are agency needs for special assistance during the holidays, please email either Betsy Covington or Ben Moser and they will work with you to fulfill those needs.

National and/or State News Update-Ben Moser

Ben gave the following updates concerning the coronavirus that causes COVID-19:

New York Times: 
  • At least 2,957 new coronavirus deaths and 201,649 new cases were reported in the United States on December 15, 2020. Over the past week, there has been an average of 206,557 cases per day, an increase of 28 percent from the average two weeks earlier.
  • The country reached a terrible milestone this week, with more than 300,000 total dead from COVID-19.
  • Just three months ago, cases in the U.S. were trending downward. Death reports were relatively flat. There are now nearly six times as many cases each day and three times as many deaths. Experts warn “the worst is yet to come.”
  • The nation is seeing steady case growth and explosive increases in deaths. Even with improvement in much of the Midwest, there are escalating outbreaks in the Northeast, the South and on the West Coast.
  • Many midsize cities are reporting deaths at their highest rates of the pandemic. We’ve seen weekly death records in the counties that include: Pueblo, Colorado; Chattanooga, Tennessee; South Bend, Indiana; Springfield, Illinois; Cumberland, Maryland. · California just became the first state to add more than 30,000 cases in a day. Its growth has been driven by a rapidly worsening outlook in Los Angeles County, where more than 12,600 cases were announced Thursday, December 10, 2020 a record. · Virginia is among 19 states that set a weekly case record on December 10, 2020. More than 26,000 cases were announced there over seven days, prompting Governor Ralph Northam to order new restrictions on gatherings.
  • There is reason for hope, though, as vaccines have been approved. States are ordering doses and preparing to vaccinate health care workers and nursing home residents.
  • As of Wednesday morning, more than 16,771,500 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 303,900 have died, according to a New York Times database.
    • In 43 states and territories, including Alabama and Georgia, new cases are higher and staying high
    • In 9 states and territories new cases are higher but going down
    • In 1 state cases are lower but going up
    • In 2 territories cases are lower and staying low
Elevated Issue of Local Concern or Awareness-Ben Moser
  • A reminder to remain vigilant, wear your mask, social distance and be aware of overcrowding enclosed and/or poorly ventilated spaces and please everyone be safe over the rest of the holiday season.
  • From NBC news:
  • Health care workers across the United States were among the first Americans to get the federally approved coronavirus vaccine, marking a critical moment in the fight against COVID-19.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top disease expert, predicted that after vaccines are more widely deployed the country could achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 by “the end of the second quarter 2021.”

Economic Sector and Impact Area Updates

Columbus Consolidated Government Update-Mayor Skip Henderson

Mayor Henderson gave the following updates:

  • Thanked everyone on the call and in the community for the heroic and amazing things they are doing despite the pandemic.
  • Although the numbers have been going up our community has been fortunate.
  • Kudos to the local hospitals for their expertise and efficiency in handling COVID-19 patients.
  • Important to remain vigilant throughout the winter months and the holidays.
  • Wished everyone a safe and happy holiday season.
Muscogee County School District Update-Dr. David Lewis

Dr. Lewis gave the following updates:

  • The school district is continuing to monitor the numbers locally.
  • There has been an uptick in the cases in the district resulting in increased isolations and quarantines. However, no schools or facilities have had to close.
  • Continuing to meet with their panel of health experts. They are watching the numbers and conditions closely particularly the capacity of ICU beds and nursing staff at local hospitals and the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. 
  • The school district will decide whether to go to all virtual/remote, a staggered start or continue the Choice Model for the new year. All virtual/remote would be the last option because of the hardships but they must also weigh the health conditions.  
  • They will make an announcement later this week so that parents and teachers can know how to plan accordingly.
  • Some schools have had no isolations or quarantines while others have been more substantially hit.
  • Thanked the community for their continued support, prayers and flexibility as they work through this unique situation with 31,000 students and 5,000 employees.
Feeding the Valley Update-Frank Sheppard

Frank gave the following updates:

  • Monthly food distribution tomorrow at Enrichment Services in Cuthbert, Georgia (Randolph County).
  • Food distribution in Muscogee County, Georgia is scheduled for Saturday, December 19, 2020 at the Columbus, Georgia Civic Center. For Georgia residents only.
  • Another food distribution is scheduled for Monday, December 21, 2020 at the Columbus, Georgia Civic Center in partnership with the Columbus Consolidated Government. This distribution is open to anyone.
  • Food distribution in Russell County, Alabama is scheduled for Wednesday, December 23, 2020 at the Central Activity Center in Phenix City, Alabama. For Alabama residents only.
St. Francis-Emory Healthcare Update-Melody Trimble

Melody gave the following updates:

  • Slight uptick of COVID-19 cases.
  • Hoping to receive the vaccine soon. Awaiting additional information from the state concerning distribution.
  • Asking everyone to remain vigilant throughout the holiday season with handwashing, social distancing and wearing a mask.
  • The hospital is busy but prepared. Grateful for the extraordinary St. Francis team on Day 278.
  • Currently, there are less than 32 patients with COVID-19 at the hospital.
Home for Good/United Way Update-Pat Frey

Pat gave the following updates:

  • The annual Point in Time Count that was tentatively scheduled for January 25, 2021 has been moved to February (tentatively for the Tuesday after President’s Day) due to concerns of a possible post-holiday COVID-19 surge in January.
  • Excited to announce that the Department of Public Health will be assisting with the 2021 Point in Time Count.
  • Information on funding applications from HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) is pending. Hoping that the signing of the Heroes Act will release the funding to be available for next year.
  • Status of the moratorium on evictions is pending. Waiting to find out if it will be extended or allowed to expire on December 31, 2020. Hope to begin using prevention funds from the ESG Cares funding beginning January 4, 2021.
Grants/Projects Update-Betsy Covington

Betsy gave the following updates:

  • Grants awarded this week to Power through Christ Ministries in Phenix City, Alabama and SafeHouse Ministries.
  • Total grants awarded to date: $1,252,016.
  • Grateful for the donations that continue to come in. Every dollar goes back into the community.
  • There are still funds available on the AFLAC match. Donations are matched up to $2,000 per donation.
  • For details on grant awards, to donate or if you are a non-profit in need of assistance go to cfcv.com/coronavirus
  • Special thanks to a local brewery, Califormulations, who is giving away half gallon jugs of hand sanitizer to agencies in need. Please contact Amy Bryan of the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce on her cell phone at 706-615-0754 to arrange pick up.

Making Connections (Open Forum)

Columbus Health Department Update-Dr. Asante’ Hilts

Dr. Hilts gave the following updates:

  • As of yesterday, there is a sign-up form on their website that allows Tier 1 providers that are not able to get the vaccine from a hospital affiliate to get the vaccine from the health department.
  • There is also a list on the website of who qualifies as Tier 1. westcentralhealthdistrict.com
  • They are expecting the vaccine shipment any day.

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