Positive COVID-19 Cases at Two Nursing Homes in Upson County
The Upson Beacon confirmed Wednesday that there are positive cases of COVID-19 among healthcare providers and residents at two local nursing homes in Upson County, Providence Healthcare of Thomaston and Harborview Thomaston. There are also suspected cases with results pending.
Reportedly, both facilities have resident cases and at least one has requested assistance from the Georgia Department of Public Health and Upson Emergency Management Agency, who are engaged and assisting. The number of resident cases has not been released as of April 9. Healthcare providers are employees, and that information will be kept confidential.
The Beacon contacted administrators at Providence and Harborview. Charlene Wright, Harborview’s administrator, declined comment. Providence Healthcare’s administrator Tom Williams issued the following statement:
“At Providence Healthcare resident safety is a top priority. This virus is especially dangerous to our population – older adults with underlying health conditions – so this is a critical issue that requires our immediate attention. We value the care we provide to all our residents and are doing everything we can to ensure we stop the spread of this within our facility.
“We currently have confirmed positive COVID-19 resident cases and are in very close communication with local and state health officials to ensure we are taking the appropriate steps at this time.
“Our staff and residents are following preventative actions as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS). We are restricting visitors from entering our facility and cancelling all group activities and communal dining within the building until the virus has been eradicated. We are also actively screening residents and staff for respiratory symptoms.
“Due to patient privacy laws, we are unable to share any further specific information about the confirmed case(s) in our facility, but we have notified their immediate family members/guardians.
“Our staff and residents truly appreciate the support and prayers of local community during this pandemic. We remain steadfast in our mission to ensure the safety and happiness of those we serve as we battle the spread of COVID-19.”
Tom Williams, Administrator
Providence Healthcare of Thomaston
The Beacon will update this information as it becomes available.
Statewide Shelter in Place Handout
Governor Kemp’s Executive Order if effective starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 3, 2020 through 11:59 p.m. Monday, April 13, 2020. Press the above link to see the full Statewide Shelter in Place Handout.
City Declares Local State of Emergency
By Bridge Turner
Mayor J.D. Stallings, with the support of the Thomaston City Council, signed a resolution and accompanying ordinance Friday, March 27 declaring a local state of emergency, citing potential health risks associated with the COVID-19 virus.
The decision followed a called meeting of city officials in which council members were seated six feet apart on the stage of the auditorium adjacent to the Government Complex. Earlier that day, the Upson Beacon received information that the first case of coronavirus had been confirmed in Upson County.
As of noon Tuesday, the number of cases had risen to five.
“I want to set the tone by saying that I really, really, strongly believe, as everybody has said, it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Mayor Pro-tem Doug Head said. “I had a conversation with Jeff Tarrant, CEO of the hospital, and… heard him say, ‘I would ask that if you’re going to do something, don’t wait’.”
Head reminded council members that Gov. Brian Kemp said, “It’s all in the people’s hands,” referring to precautions including “social distancing,” and expressed his belief that local action is necessary in addition to supporting federal and state mandates.
“Atlanta critical care units are pretty much full now,” Head stated. “So what’s going to happen is they’re going to begin to look for secondary locations to put those people, and we’re on that list... It’s not just people in Upson County… We should do what we can to raise the level of awareness.”
In addition to supporting recommendations and mandates from the federal and state governments, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control deemed “vital to the health of the nation,” city officials added the following:
“The city council hereby declares a public health state of emergency within the city… which will remain in force and effect until April 6… unless extended by further action of mayor and city council. Unless otherwise specified in this ordinance, the provisions of this ordinance shall remain in full force and effect for the duration of the declared emergency.
“…there shall be no public gatherings (the organized gathering or assembly of 10 or more persons at a specific location) on any property owned or controlled by the city (any park, public square, public space, playground, recreational area, or similar place of public gathering)… but nothing herein shall prohibit individuals or families from using sidewalks or designated pedestrian areas of parks for walking or other exercise if they are not participating in an organized gathering.
“Restaurants and other eating and dining establishments where food is served must cease offering dine-in services but may continue preparing and offering food to customers via delivery, drive-thru or takeout services… if a restaurant is licensed to sell beer and wine for on-premise consumption, such restaurant, during the effective dates of this ordinance only, shall be authorized to sell unopened bottles or cans of beer or wine for takeout consumption off premises.
“All other establishments… such as grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses which remain open during the emergency must post signage on entrance doors informing consumers to maintain at least six feet of personal distance between themselves and others and shall not allow more than 10 people into such establishment at any one time if such social distancing cannot be maintained.
“All public and private gatherings of more than 10 people occurring outside of a household or living unit are prohibited. Nothing in this ordinance, however, prohibits the gathering of individuals for the purposes of carrying on business certified as ‘essential’ by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency pursuant to O.C.G.A. 38-3-58 or designated by the governor as ‘critical infrastructure’ or the provision of medical or health services.
“All ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict with the provisions of this declaration are hereby suspended during the effective dates of this declaration (or any extension thereof) and the terms and provisions of this declaration shall prevail.”
Thomaston Police Chief Mike Richardson told council members he was not opposed to the ordinance, but could not guarantee how efficiently it would be enforced.
“The hope and goal are that the majority of people will comply without having enforcement,” Richardson said. “I have no objection to you passing this ordinance. I just want to be on the record [saying] I don’t want there to be any false expectations from you on our ability to enforce it.
“I will, to the best of my ability, enforce what you pass,” the chief concluded. “We’ll do the best we can.”
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