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Specimen collection site opens at fairgrounds
Effingham County resident tests positive for COVID-19; Bulloch schools to close through at least April 10
covid
Local news media gather at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fairgrounds as Georgia and Bulloch County officials announce a COVID-19 specimen collection site on Wednesday, March 18. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Collection of specimen samples to be sent to labs for COVID-19 testing began Thursday afternoon in Bulloch County.

The Specimen Point of Collection (SPOC) center, operated by the Southeast Health District, is set up at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fairgrounds on Hwy. 67 in Statesboro.

It is not a walk-in clinic. Only residents who have been referred by a medical facility or have been assigned an identification number by the Southeast Health District may be swabbed nasally for the specimen collection, and people who arrive at the site are asked to remain in their vehicles until summoned for their turn.

Aside from coming from a doctor or health care provider, a referral may be obtained by calling the COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681.

The center is “not open for public visitation. The centers will be for collection only, and no results will be given immediately as they will be determined through an external lab system,” said Southeast Health District Director Cindy Hart.

The Department of Public Health will not disclose how many samples were collected Thursday, said Bulloch County Public Safety and Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn. He reiterated the fact that people cannot just walk up and request a specimen sample be taken. And, the specimens are not tested on site, but sent off to a lab for testing. Results of those tests are not immediately available and there was no estimate on how long before test results will be sent back.

Bulloch County Sheriff deputies will be on site at all times to ensure safety and cooperation, he said.

The COVID-19 sample collection centers are mainly for people most at risk - those over 60 or those with chronic health conditions such as heart and lung disease, hypertension and diabetes, Hart said. Also a priority are healthcare workers, first responders, law enforcement and “others who come in contact every day with people who may be infected (but) are well and do not knowingly spread COVID-19 to others,” she said. 

While Bulloch County residents are not currently under quarantine orders or a curfew, county leaders are “promoting CDC and the President’s ‘15 days to slow the spread’ idea,” Wynn said. “The public is encouraged to practice social distancing and CDC guidelines to prevent further spread and exposure. “

As of noon Thursday, there were 287 COVID-19 reported to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Ten of those resulted in fatalities, he said. “A confirmed case is defined as a person who has tested positive for the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).”

The Southeast Health District follows Center for Disease Control guidelines in suggesting people stay home if sick, covering a cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, and frequent cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

 

Bulloch schools closed at least through April 10 

According to a press release from Bulloch County Schools Thursday evening, all schools will observe the scheduled spring break April 6-10. These dates will not be used as make up days for missed school days. Because national and state information about the coronavirus changes daily, decisions about when school will resume or if and when these days will be made up are not known at this time.

Bulloch County Schools will also continue to deliver bags of free meals to children while the schools are closed. Meal service will continue through at least April 10, to 34 locations on weekdays (Monday – Friday). Sites are added on a daily based need, so check the schools’ website and social media for a current list of sites.

Effingham resident tests positive

According to the Effingham County Board of Commissioners, the first COVID-19 case in Effingham was reported Thursday afternoon. County administrators received the news just before 4:30 p.m.

In a release, the board said information is very vague currently, but one Effingham resident has tested positive for COVID-19. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

For accurate and reliable information, contact the Southeast Health District at 912-285- 6000 or visit http://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019ncov. To know the current status of COVID-19 in Georgia, please visit DPH’s interactive tool at the following link: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.

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

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