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One of 184 tests positive; sheriff tracking only three homes with four cases

By Walter Geiger On May 6, staffers at Your Town Health in Barnesville did the first widespread open testing for COVID-19 here in the parking lot at their office. They did 184 nasal swab tests in a drive-up environment over a five-hour period. Last week, the final results came in and only one of those tested was positive. ******************** NOTICE: This story and photo(s) are under copyright. They may not be republished or disseminated in any form or format – including social media – without explicit permission. ********************* ’It is great that there was only one positive case but even better that we were able to catch it to hopefully help the health of that individual and those around them,’ YourTown human resources director Luke Putnam said. According to the statistics from the Georgia Department of Health (DPH) the curve has definitely flattened here. At 9 a.m. May 20, Lamar was reported as having 44 positive cases with 8 hospitalizations and one death. Those numbers have held stable for over a week. The DPH figures are cumulative and do not include recoveries. Meanwhile, sheriff Brad White is tracking four active cases in three Lamar residences. That realtime information is provided to E-911 centers statewide by GEMA so first responders can be prepared if dispatched to one of the homes. COVID-19 is most deadly to seniors, particularly those in nursing homes and other long-term health care facilities. Many such facilities in the area have been hard hit. The Georgia Department of Community Health tracks those cases and issues a report each weekday at 7 p.m. The latest came out May 15. At that time, Westbury Health Care & Rehab in Jackson had 132 patients, 122 positive cases, 26 deaths and 36 staff members testing positive. Harborview in Thomaston had 87 patients, 30 positives, 15 deaths and 28 staff positive. Providence in Thomaston had 70 patients, 60 positives, 15 deaths and 28 staff positive. Brightmoor Health Care in Griffin had 87 patients, 67 positives, 17 deaths and 20 staff positive. At PruittHealth in Forsyth, the virus took hold quickly. In just over a week, the facility went from no cases to 55 patients, 53 positives, five deaths and seven staff positive. At last report, Barnesville’s two nursing homes, Heritage Inn and Sunny Grove, had no cases reported. Heritage Inn spokesperson Amy Abel attributed the facility’s success in keeping the virus at bay to diligence. ‘Our staff continues to work around the clock to mitigate the spread of the virus into our center and takes multiple precautionary measures,’ Abel said. Those measures include: ’¢Restricting nonessential visitation. ’¢Reinforcing CDC guidelines for hand hygiene and environmental cleanliness. ’¢Reviewing infection control policies and action plans with staff. ’¢Screening health care workers prior to their reporting for duty and not permitting staff with respiratory symptoms to work. ’¢Suspending group activities and communal dining. ’Given the recent and rapid spread of coronavirus across the nation and state and the vulnerability of the population we serve, we have been and will continue to be in communication with our medical director as well as with local and state health departments for guidance regarding patients who have an acute respiratory illness,’ Abel concluded. (Note: The Herald Gazette reached out to officials at Sunny Grove for comment with no response. The facility had 11 positive cases as of 7 p.m. May 19 after showing none at 7 p.m. May 15.)

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