A 62-year-old woman was reported Friday to be the fifth Bulloch County resident to succumb to COVID-19. She had no known underlying medical conditions, said Ted Wynn, director of Bulloch County Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency.
As the county’s COVID-19 cases rose by 20 from Thursday to Friday, totaling 581, volunteers from the county and the City of Statesboro planned the distribution oi free face masks to those who do not have their own.
There are currently no local ordinances demanding masks be worn in public, but Wynn said it has been determined that facial coverings help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Bulloch County EMA received 10,000 masks last week, and the Bulloch County Health Department also obtained a quantity of masks, he said. Donated by the Hanes corporation, the masks will be handed out on Friday to citizens, free of charge.
The reusable face masks will be distributed from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 11, at BI-LO on Northside Drive East, Food World on Fair Road and Northside Drive West, Lowe’s on Northside Drive East, and Save A Lot on Northside Drive East.
The face masks “are being provided by the City of Statesboro and Bulloch County in an effort to mitigate the recent increase in COVID-19 cases within the region,” said Statesboro public information officer Layne Phillips in a statement released Friday.
The efforts include volunteerism by the recently formed COVID-19 Community Response Team, organized by Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar. Members of the team include representatives from Bulloch County, the “Squashing the Spread Bulloch” Facebook group, the Bulloch County Emergency Management Agency, the Bulloch County NAACP, Share Health Southeast Georgia, and public health professionals from Georgia Southern University, she said.
“The mission of this team is to provide personal protective equipment and educational resources to slow the spread of COVID-19 within the city limits and greater Bulloch County. The team hopes to capitalize on its members’ influence and expertise to reach a larger audience.”
McCollar expressed excitement over the project.
“I am so encouraged by our community’s commitment to stopping the spread of COVID-19,” he said. “This response team started as just an idea and by our first meeting, we already had 20 volunteers and a mask distribution event on the calendar. The members of our team bring a diverse blend of knowledge and experience to the table, and I am very excited to see what we will be able to accomplish as one unified.”
Thursday, the number of patients with the coronavirus at East Georgia Regional Medical Center had increased by two to reach 22, with five on ventilators, Wynn said. Since the beginning of the pandemic, EGRMC has admitted 43 patients with COVID-19.
Between Thursday and Friday afternoons, Bulloch County EMS transported two more confirmed COVID-19 positive patients, bringing the total to 40 probable and 34 confirmed transports by EMS.
The local Specimen Point of Collection site is located at the Bulloch County Health Department at 1 W. Altman St. in Statesboro. If you would like to be tested for free, call 855-473-4374 for an appointment.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.