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February 17, 2021: Coronavirus Community Call

• Coronavirus
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To download notes, click here.

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The next Coronavirus Response Update Call will be Wednesday, March 3, 2021

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 1,707 new coronavirus deaths and 64,376 new cases were reported in the United States on February 16, 2021. Over the past week, there has been an average of 81,200 cases per day, a decrease of 43 percent from the average two weeks earlier. As of Wednesday morning, more than 27,802,800 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and 487,855 have died, according to a New York Times database.
  • In 3 states, new cases are higher and staying high.
  • In 38 states and territories, including Georgia and Alabama, new cases are higher but going down.
  • In 14 states and territories cases are lower and staying low.
  • The country has averaged around 91,000 cases a day over the last week, down from about 250,000 at the January peak.
  • Officials in Ohio discovered a data reporting error that resulted in around 4,000 deaths not being announced when they occurred. Large single-day death totals were announced there on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and it is unclear whether more are expected. 
  • Rhode Island has one of the country’s highest rates of known cases over the last week and over the whole pandemic. It is also struggling in vaccination, reporting the lowest percentage of residents receiving a first dose of any state.
  • Nearly 1.7 million vaccine doses are being administered on an average day, and about 12 percent of the country has received at least one dose.
  • Variants continue to spread in the United States, including some first detected overseas and others found first in this country. Scientists worry that those variants could frustrate progress in reducing cases.
Elevated Issue of Local Concern or Awareness-Ben Moser
  • Elevated issue – from CBS news – variant threat and the impact on vaccination efforts.
  • A third dose of coronavirus vaccine may be needed to prevent serious cases of new variants of the disease, Bill Gates said Tuesday. The billionaire philanthropist’s comments come amid to the growing concern that current vaccines are less effective against the South African and Brazilian variants.
  • “The discussion now is do we just need to get a super high coverage of the current vaccine, or do we need a third dose that’s just the same, or do we need amodified vaccine?” Gates told “CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell.
  • “All five of the companies that have U.S. vaccines are looking at making that modification and adding that in so that people who’ve already had two shots might need to get a third shot,” he said. “I think it’s reasonably likely that we will have a tuned vaccine just to make absolutely sure that as these variants hit the U.S. that they’re not escaping from vaccine protection.”
  • Gates is funding studies in South Africa to determine whether the AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax vaccines were as effective against the more contagious variant.
  • “AstraZeneca in particular has a challenge with the variant. And the other two, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, are slightly less effective, but still effective enough that we absolutely should get them out as fast as we can while we study this idea of tuning the vaccine,” Gates said.
  • If the coronavirus is not eradicated, he said, additional shots may be necessary in the future. “Probably not yearly, but as long as it’s out there, we want as many Americans as possible not to be spreading it to each other,” he said.
  • Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on February 7 that he believed the vaccines currently being distributed in the U.S. would offer “reasonable protection” against the new variants, even if they are less effective against the new strains. Still, he said, it may also be necessary to administer booster shots in the fall.

Economic Sector and Impact Area Updates

Columbus Consolidated Government Update-Mayor Skip Henderson

Mayor Henderson gave the following updates:

  • The number of positive confirmed cases are improving.
  • The 7-day rolling average is down to 35 and the number of cases per 100,000 individuals over a 14-day period are getting better as well.
  • There is less pressure on the hospitals, and  grateful for everything that these front-line workers do.  
  • Working along with local hospitals and the Department of Public Health to get larger shipments of the vaccine into our area. Processes are in place to get people vaccinated quickly.
  • Feel confident  to be able to administer 2,000 or 3,000 a day up to 5,000 doses of the vaccine once available.
  • Some city facilities are still closed( i.e., recreation centers). The city is reviewing ways to open smoothly and safely.
  • Urge citizens to safely visit and support local merchants.
  • Thankful for this call to share and receive information.
Feeding the Valley Update-Frank Sheppard

Frank gave the following updates:

  • Food distribution in Chattahoochee County, Georgia today(Cusseta, Georgia).
  • Food distribution in Randolph County, Georgia tomorrow(Cuthbert, Georgia).
  • Food distribution Saturday, February 20, 2021 in Muscogee County, Georgia at the Columbus Georgia Civic Center. For Georgia residents only. Distributions will begin at 10:00am. Urge residents to arrive earlier to get in car line.
  • Food distribution Saturday, February 27, 2021 in Russell County, Georgia at the Phenix City Central Activity Center. For Alabama residents only. Distribution will begin at 10:00am. Urge residents to arrive earlier to get in car line.
St. Francis-Emory Healthcare Update-Melody Trimble

Melody gave the following updates:

  • Their numbers are going down. Very hopeful and appreciative of that.
  • They are 25 days shy of one year dealing with COVID-19 and its impact.
  • Her team continues to be resilient, but they are tired.
  • They are grateful for the vaccine and have vaccinated almost 3,000 people at the hospital.
  • St. Francis Columbus Clinic is also administering vaccines to their patients.
  • They continue to support their team and the community.
Grants/Projects Update-Betsy Covington

Betsy gave the following updates:

  • This week the Coronavirus Response Fund is announcing additional grants totaling $8,000. 
  • The total awarded since the COVID-19 pandemic began is $1,292,726.
  • The agencies receiving grants this week are Columbus State University Foundation, The Community Warriors and The Salvation Army.
    • For details on grant awards, to donate or if you are a non-profit in need of assistance go to cfcv.com/coronavirus

Making Connections (Open Forum)

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

Jack gave the following updates:

  • Individuals can register on the health department website for COVID-19 testing and for the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • COVID 19 Testing and Vaccine Registration westcentralhealthdistrict.com
  • Vaccine Locator COVID Vaccine | Georgia Department of Public Health
  • They are presently registering and vaccinating individuals in Phase 1 A+. Criteria to qualify for Phase 1 A+ is listed on the website.
  • They are presently administering the Moderna vaccine.
  • Asked everyone to continue to reach out to the elderly and encourage them to get the vaccine and help them with registration and or transportation challenges.
  • The health department is also conducting Hispanic Outreach and keeping the Hispanic community updated on COVID-19.
  • The health department is also conducting outreach with the faith-based community and keeping them updated on COVID-19.
  • The health department is planning future partnerships with places of worship as vaccination sites as well as training parishioners with medical backgrounds to help administer the vaccine to other parishioners and the surrounding community.
  • The health department is in the process of hiring new staff for future pop-up vaccination clinics throughout the health district.  
Pierce Chapel United Methodist Church-Rev. Lynn Meadows-White

Rev. Meadows-White gave the following updates:

  • Rev. Meadows-White explained that a local hospital pharmacist who is also a member of her congregation shared that he sometimes has extra COVID-19 vaccine doses left at the end of the day due to no shows or individuals who made an appointment but were not aware that they did not qualify.
  • To prevent wasting vaccines, she proposed creating a community wide on call list for individuals to receive COVID-19 vaccine doses that are left at the end of the day at facilities.
  • Phase 1A+ individuals on the list could be called to come immediately to receive the vaccine.
  • As an example, there were several people(65 and older) in her congregation who had been on a waiting list that were able to receive the vaccine using an on-call method.   
  • Jack Lockwood of the Columbus Health Department obtained Rev. Meadows-White contact information for further discussion with Dr. Asante’ Hilts, Program Manager, West Central Georgia Health District and Dr. Beverley Townsend, District Health Director.
St. Anne Community Outreach Update-Katie Byers

Katie gave the following updates:

  • St. Anne is planning to assist their clients who are Phase 1A+ with vaccine registration as many of them don’t have access to computers.

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