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Patient tests positive for COVID-19 in Statesboro
Official: Infected person not believed to be a Bulloch County resident

A Statesboro doctor’s office announced Thursday that one of its patients tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

The doctor’s office could not disclose whether the patient is a Bulloch County resident, but according to a statement by Southern Family Medicine Thursday afternoon, “Statesboro had a patient test positive for coronavirus COVID-19.”

Bulloch County Public Safety/Emergency Management Director Ted Wynn said the only report he has had about a positive coronavirus test in Statesboro was that the person who tested positive did not live in Bulloch County. He said his office was notified Thursday morning that someone had tested positive in Statesboro, but that person lived elsewhere.

The 7 p.m. COVID-19 update from the Georgia Department of Public Health Thursday did not indicate a case of the virus in Bulloch County yet.

“Local leaders held a conference call with Department of Health authorities at 11 a.m. (Thursday),” he said. “DPH advised of a potential exposure here in Bulloch County although the person was not a Bulloch County resident.”

Southern Family Medicine said DPH is “conducting social contact tracing to help minimize risk to our communities.”

The patient was treated in a special area separate from patients seeing a doctor for reasons besides possible coronavirus.

“The patient was seen on our isolation hallway, using a separate entrance, which we set up for just this scenario,” the statement read. “Our cleaning/sanitization practices after this and each suspected or tested patient's visit meet appropriate standards and guidelines set forth by the Georgia Department of Public Health.”

“Lesson: the coronavirus is here, do everything you can to protect yourself,”
 Wynn said.

In the noon Department of Health report Thursday, there were 1,525 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia, with none in Bulloch. However, there were 166 cases listed as “unknown location.”

Wynn said he doesn’t know details. “I do not have an explanation for the 166 unknown location cases.  I can only assume maybe homeless.” The DPH will not give addresses, and they “just haven’t explained it,” he said.

Southern Family Medicine said the practice is “following guidance from CDC and local and state departments of health to limit exposure to our staff and patients.”

Medical staff in contact with all patients suspected of even possibly having the virus took precautions.

“At this time, we have no evidence that our healthcare team experienced increased exposure, but out of an abundance of precaution, all team members who interacted with this patient wore protective gear including N95 masks and gloves (for airborne and contact precautions),” the statement read. “CDC algorithm indicates that this was a low-risk exposure.”


Don’t panic

Wynn said just because a person has tested positive in Statesboro is no reason to panic. Continue to practice social distancing, follow careful hygiene practices and stay home as much as possible, he said.

When interacting with others, remain at least six feet apart. Wash hands regularly with antibacterial soap, use hand sanitizer, and if possible, use gloves and wear a mask when around potential exposure, he said.

A DPH specimen collection site is open at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fairgrounds for referral-only people who have an ID number assigned by a medical practice or the DPH. Southern Family Medicine, along with other medical facilities, will also continue conducting COVID-19 testing.


Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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