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UPDATE: Mayor clarifies position; URMC situation report

Barnesville mayor Peter Banks has clarified remarks he made to the Barnesville Rotary Club Tuesday via videoconference. He was speaking of the opening of public buildings in the city. Gov. Kemp’s relaxed standards supersede any regulation the mayor and council can put in place. So, businesses can open Friday and restaurants can open Monday. April 27. As for city facilities, city manager David Rose said the civic center gym will open April 27 at 6 a.m. Meetings will not be held there, however. The lobby at city hall will open May 1. The mayor said conversations were taking place but the feeling was it was too early. “We will probably wait until at least May 1,” Banks said. Sherry Farr, nurse manager of the local health department, agreed. “It looks like our curve is a little bit behind the rest of the area,” she said. The guest speaker was Jeff Tarrant, CEO of Upson Regional Medical Center, who spoke of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the hospital. He reported URMC was targeting five times more resources than normal to the critically ill but all other segments like elective surgeries are flat. “We are a business, too, and business is down,” Tarrant said. He said Upson County is now in a “fairly dangerous situation”. The county ranks 69th in Georgia in population but is 22nd among counties in the number of positive cases and 18th in COVID-19 deaths. He said the hospital expected to take in patients from the metro Atlanta area but that has not materialized. The hospital did treat patients from the Albany area some weeks ago. The bright spot was testing. Tarrant said six weeks ago it took 12-13 days to get results back. That time frame dropped to 24-72 hours when a lab in Alabama ramped up. The hospital now has a limited supply of reagent that allows testing with a device the hospital already had. Results using that system can be back in as little at 13 minutes. ”We only have a limited supply of the reagent. We have to ration it for patients in whom an immediate diagnosis is critical. Otherwise, we would run out in 10 days,” Tarrant concluded.

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