All Bulloch County residents may now be tested for COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms of the coronavirus.
Area residents who want a test may contact the Southeast Health District call center at (855) 473-4374 to set up an appointment at the specimen collection center at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fairgrounds on Highway 67, said Bulloch County Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn.
Increased testing may reflect higher COVID-19 positive numbers as the results come in, but in Bulloch County, the number of cases remains low compared to other areas in the state, Wynn said. He believes compliance with quarantine mandates is at least partially responsible.
Efforts to battle COVID-19 in Bulloch County are keeping the increase in cases to a crawl, but with the coronavirus resurging in some areas, people need to continue with precautions, he said.
“While statewide numbers for confirmed COVID-19 positive citizens appear to be only slightly up, another hotspot is emerging in Hall County. (Gov. Brian Kemp) will be standing up a mobile medical unit to support them in their efforts.”
The Georgia Department of Public Health reported Friday that there were 1,997 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hall County, with 28 deaths.
Bulloch County still stands at 42 confirmed cases, although over the past two days the DPH-listed numbers have fluctuated between 41 and 43. Wynn said the numbers appearing on the DPH website were changed back to 42 Friday, and the discrepancy was likely due to “reporting or addressing error.” Two of those 42 Bulloch County cases ended in death, and nine were hospitalized.
As of Friday, there was only one COVID-19 positive patient at East Georgia Regional Medical Center, he said.
Testing increases statewide
Test numbers may rise, but state averages are falling, Wynn said.
“The daily average of new confirmed COVID-19 positive cases statewide in the last seven days went from 585 to 154. We could see a jump in this number if the higher number of tests in the last week results in more confirmed cases when the test results are known.”
Across Georgia, the DPH reported 227,477 tests administered as of Friday, with 32,126 positive cases and 1,395 deaths.
Wynn reported that as of noon Friday, Bulloch County EMS had transported no patients with coronavirus symptoms since Wednesday. To date, EMS has transported a total of 20 probable and 5 confirmed patients, he said
A new supply of personal protective equipment for EMTs was picked up from Waycross Friday, and unwavering efforts such as this, meant to keep everyone safe, have proven worthwhile.
Wynn said county officials work daily to keep up momentum in the fight against the virus. Planning, new ideas and encouraging continued social distancing and sanitary precautions can possibly keep the numbers low in Bulloch, he said.
“Social distancing will most likely be around for some time, and it must continue if we are to see the better numbers continue,” he said. “Remember to wear a mask, follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines on hygiene, wash your hands often, and always maintain 6 feet between you and others. Our Bulloch County numbers are holding steady, so keep up the safety precautions.”
Admittedly, social distancing can be difficult as the public gets restless and the weather is inviting. With summer approaching, many residents look forward to social gatherings and events, but with COVID-19, things will be different. The Bulloch County Emergency Management Agency “is consulting with several groups holding large venues over the summer,” Wynn said. “Public Health will be consulted for guidance.”
As the “new normal” evolves, others in the area are still working to meet needs. The Bulloch County school system is now serving more than 5,600 meals (one breakfast and one lunch per child) daily at more than 70 pickup sites across the county.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.