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Six feet apart or six feet under

(Note: This story was written for print at 1 p.m. Monday, April 6.) Lamar County had 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of noon Monday, according to the state department of health (DPH). That count doubled from the total of seven listed at 7 p.m. Sunday. As Easter approaches, health officials expect this to be the worst week of the coronavirus pandemic. Statewide, there were 7314 confirmed cases with 1332 hospitalizations and 229 deaths. Lamar was not listed as having a recorded death but coroner Jim Smith confirmed a local resident who died at an area hospital earlier this month tested positive for coronavirus. Nearby, two people – males ages 50 and 73 – died in Spalding County. A 77-year-old male from High Falls in Monroe County also succumbed. All had underlying medical issues. ’Six feet apart or six feet under. Which do you prefer?’ That is how one local official summed up the predicament facing the citizens of Lamar County who are, along with everyone in Georgia, under a shelter in place order. Local law enforcement, government officials and health care professionals are concerned local residents are refusing to comply despite dire warnings. ’I still see people who are out and not taking it seriously. Our area hospitals are at or near maximum capacity as it is,’ commission chairman Charles Glass said. Sheriff Brad White agreed. ‘People need to take the six foot rule seriously,’ White said. Barnesville city manager David Rose was also concerned. ‘People need to practice social distancing and abide by the shelter in place rules,’ he said. Sherry Farr, nurse manager at the local health department, urged everyone to do their part to stem the COVID-19 tide. ‘It is going to take personal responsibility to beat this thing,’ she said. BPD chief Craig Cooper echoed those sentiments. ‘We would like to see people follow the guidelines. Wear personal protective equipment and use Q-tips or toothpicks to enter pin numbers at the store. Once you leave, throw the protective gear away,’ Cooper said. Meanwhile, the community is largely shut down and Easter Sunday services at local houses of worship will be held via video conference if they are held at all. Easter egg hunts have also been canceled but there are 14 knitted eggs hidden along Thomaston Street for families to search for on walks or golf cart rides.

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