As the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Bulloch County has risen to 22, the Department of Public Health is taking steps to increase testing and make it easier to get tested.
Not only are more specimen collection sites being added across the state, but the hours at existing sites are being increased, with the possibility of testing done on Saturdays, said Bulloch County Public Safety and Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn.
While an additional collection site will not be added in Bulloch, “they are discussing increasing hours,” he said. The Georgia DPH is also “revising the current testing criteria to accommodate more testing of Georgia residents.”
The Bulloch County collection site is located at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fairgrounds on Fair Road.
Now, all symptomatic individuals will be eligible for COVID-19 testing. A referral is still required but can be obtained from a local health department, as well as from other health care providers.
Those choosing a health department will “be screened by appropriate health department staff and referred to the closest, most convenient specimen collection site,” he said.
Health care workers, first responders, law enforcement and long-term care facility residents and staff will still be prioritized for testing, regardless of whether they are symptomatic.
The specimen collection sites are not taking walk-ins.
“People should not arrive unannounced or without a scheduled appointment at a specimen collection site, hospital, emergency room or other health care facility,” according to a statement by the DPH. “Only individuals who have been evaluated by public health or a health care provider and assigned a PUI number will be referred to these drive-thru sites.”
On the local level
As of Wednesday evening, there were 22 positive COVID-19 cases and one fatality from the disease reported in Bulloch County, Wynn said, adding that he expects “numbers to rise as a result of expanded testing.”
On Wednesday, East Georgia Regional Medical Center was caring for seven COVID-19 positive patients, and Bulloch EMS had transported five COVID-19 positive patients as well as “six probable positives,” Wynn said.
Soon, EMTs will have another level of protection against the coronavirus as they respond to emergency cases.
“The governor’s office and GADPH have agreed to release the address of COVID-19 positive patients only to local 911 systems for use only when dispatching first responders to that address,” Wynn said. “This will enable responders to take extra precautions not to contract or spread the virus.”
As of Wednesday evening, there were 14,987 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia, with 2,982 hospitalizations and 552 deaths.
Contact information for local health departments can be found at https://dph.georgia.gov/, under the “COVID-19 in Georgia” heading on the webpage.
The statewide COVID-19 hotline is (844) 442-2681.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.