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The Coastal Health District of Georgia serves the counties of Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long & McIntosh

News


Free Flu Shots Offered at Long Co. Nov. 4th Drive-Through Flu Vaccination Clinic

Getting vaccinated against the flu this year is more important than ever. To make it as convenient as possible for residents to get the flu vaccine, the Long County Health Department will offer free flu shots at a drive-through flu vaccination clinic from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, November 4th. The flu clinic will take place at the health department located at 584 N. Macon Street in Ludowici. No appointment is necessary.

Flu vaccinations are also available at the health department by appointment during regular operating hours. Call 912-545-2107 to schedule an appointment. Everyone entering the health department over age 2 will be screened for COVID-19 and must wear a face mask.

The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over six months of age. Vaccination is particularly important for those at high risk of complications from flu, including adults 65 and older, children younger than five, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions such as asthma and diabetes. It takes about two weeks after getting a flu shot for the vaccine to provide the body protection against the flu.

 “Getting the flu vaccine reduces your chances of getting the flu and that, in turn, helps protect all of us,” said Health Director for the Coastal Health District, Lawton Davis, M.D. Everyday preventive actions to prevent flu spread are also recommended, like staying home if you’re sick, sneezing and coughing into your elbow, washing hands frequently, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

To get more information on the flu or to download the vaccine consent form ahead of time, please visit gachd.org/flu.

Chatham County Health Dept. Offers Free Lead Screening Through Oct. 30

Are you concerned your child may have been exposed to lead? Lead exposure is dangerous during early childhood development, but fortunately it’s easy to detect. A simple blood test can reveal elevated lead levels, and your child can be tested for free in Chatham County through October 30th.

Next week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, which is a nationwide effort to raise awareness of this preventable but dangerous environmental threat. Last year in Chatham County, more than 3,600 children under age six were tested for lead in the blood, and 86 of them had blood lead levels that were too high.

Even low levels of lead in blood can affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. The effects of lead exposure cannot be reversed if damage has occurred, so it’s very important to detect elevated blood lead levels early so you can stop further exposure.

“The most common source of lead exposure is from lead-based paint, which you often find in homes built before 1978,” said Dr. Chris Rustin, Administrator of the Chatham County Health Department. “Savannah is well known for its historic architecture, but our older housing supply means many children could be exposed to lead in paint or the soil.”

When lead paint gets old, it can start peeling and become a hazard. Adults and children can get lead into their bodies by breathing in the lead or by swallowing lead dust that settles in food, food preparation surfaces, floors, window sills, and other places, or eating paint chips or soil that contain lead. A child can be exposed to lead through other means including toys, jewelry, fishing lures, glazed pottery, and other products.

If you would like to have your child tested, contact the Chatham County Health Department at 912-356-2441 to make an appointment for a free screening between now and October 30.

More information about lead poisoning is available at cdc.gov/nceh/lead/.

Changes to COVID-19 Testing Schedule

The Coastal Health District is adjusting the COVID-19 testing schedule in Bryan, Camden, Effingham, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh Counties as demand increases for other public health services, including flu vaccinations.

“We’ve seen a decline in COVID-19 testing numbers in our district, and the same is true statewide,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, Health Director of the Coastal Health District. “Even with a reduced schedule, we can meet the current demand. And if testing demand increases in the future, we’ll adjust accordingly.”

Beginning October 12, the following counties will offer this revised schedule for COVID-19 testing by appointment:

  • Bryan County: Tuesdays in Richmond Hill; Fridays in Pembroke from 8 a.m. – 12 noon
  • Camden County: Tuesdays 8 a.m. – 12 noon
  • Effingham County: Fridays 8 a.m. – 12 noon
  • Liberty County: Wednesdays 8 a.m. – 12 noon
  • Long County: Tuesdays 8 a.m. – 12 noon
  • McIntosh County: Tuesdays 8 a.m. – 12 noon

You have two options for scheduling an appointment for free COVID-19 testing through public health. To schedule an appointment online, go to covid19.dph.ga.gov, or to schedule by phone call our COVID-19 Testing Call Center at 912-230-9744. The call center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. – 12 noon.

Click here for more details about testing locations, and for a list of free COVID-19 testing options in other counties of the Coastal Health District.

Beach Advisory Lifted on Jekyll Island

Update: October 7, 2020

The Glynn County Health Department has lifted the beach water advisory for Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island.

The advisory was issued on October 6, 2020 after routine water quality tests showed a high level of enterococci bacteria which increase the risk of gastrointestinal illness in swimmers.

Subsequent water samples show the bacteria level has dropped below the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limits. Therefore, the advisory has been lifted.


October 6, 2020

The Glynn County Health Department has issued a beach water advisory for Driftwood Beach, which is from Beach KM marker 1 to Tallu Fish Lane on Jekyll Island.

graphic showing the beach water advisory signs

The Department of Natural Resources – Coastal Resources Division tests water samples on Glynn County beaches throughout the year. The tests screen for enterococcus (pronounced: en·ter·o·coc·cus) bacteria, which are found in humans and some wildlife. The testing program is not related to the capsized motor vehicle carrier in St. Simons Sound.

When a beach is under advisory, it means the level of bacteria found in the water is above the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended standards. This does NOT mean the beach is closed.

The beach water advisory alerts the public of a possible risk of illness associated with water contact in the advisory area. The Health Department recommends you do not swim or wade in the water in the area under advisory. Fish and other seafood caught from this area should be thoroughly washed with fresh water and thoroughly cooked before eating, as should fish or seafood caught from any waters.

The area will be re-tested this week, and the advisory will be lifted when the bacteria levels meet the EPA’s recommended standards. For more information, visit our Beach Water Testing page.

Chatham Co. Health Dept. to Offer COVID-19 Testing at Additional Locations by Appointment; New Hours at Civic Center Testing Site

Changes are coming to the Chatham County Health Department’s COVID-19 testing program next week. The specimen collection site at the Savannah Civic Center will have new operational hours beginning Monday, October 5th. Every Wednesday, the Civic Center site will close, and testing will instead be offered at varying locations by appointment.

“Each Wednesday, we’ll target a specific area of Chatham County where case numbers are highest, or where more of our at-risk residents live,” said Tammi Brown, Nurse Manager of the Chatham County Health Department. “We want to be sure the people who need testing the most will have easy access to this service.”

On Wednesday, October 7th, free testing will be offered from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Midtown Clinic of the Chatham County Health Department at 1602 Drayton St. Due to space limitations, appointments will be REQUIRED for testing on Wednesdays. Please arrive no more than 5 minutes early for your scheduled appointment. You have 2 options for appointment scheduling:

  • Schedule Online: covid19.dph.ga.gov. You cannot schedule a test more than two weeks in advance.
  • Schedule by Phone: Call the COVID-19 Testing Call Center at 1-912-230-9744 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.         

The new operational hours for the Civic Center specimen collection site are listed below. For more information about testing in Chatham County, visit gachd.org/covidtestsav/. For more information about testing in other areas of the Coastal Health District, please visit gachd.og/covidtest/.

COVID-19 Testing at the Savannah Civic Center

No appointment is needed for testing at the Savannah Civic Center at 301 West Oglethorpe Ave.

  • Monday: 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Wednesday: Closed. Staff conducts testing at varying community locations by appointment
  • Thursday: 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Every 1st and 3rd Saturday from 8:30-11:30 a.m.
  • Saturday schedule for October: 10/3 and 10/17

Walk-up testing begins at 8:30 a.m. for the first 100 people in line. The walk-up line forms on the Montgomery Street side of the Civic Center – please do not line up earlier than 8 a.m. Face coverings must be worn, and individuals must keep 6 feet from others in line.

Drive-through testing begins when walk-up testing is complete.

Drive-through Flu Vaccination Clinics Planned

It’s unknown what kind of impact COVID-19 will have on flu season and for that reason, getting vaccinated against the flu this year is more important than ever. To make it as convenient as possible for residents to get the flu vaccine, health departments in the Coastal Health Districts are planning drive-through flu vaccination clinics. No appointment is necessary for the drive-through clinics. Click the link below for a complete list of flu vaccine events.

Schedule of Drive-Through Flu Vaccination Clinics

Flu vaccinations are also available at your health department (by appointment) during regular operating hours.

The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over six months of age. Vaccination is particularly important for those at high risk of complications from flu, including adults 65 and older, children younger than five, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions such as asthma and diabetes. It takes about two weeks after getting a flu shot for the vaccine to provide the body protection against the flu.

“It stands to reason that getting COVID-19 and the flu at or about the same time could be dangerous.  High levels of COVID-19 and flu could also take a tremendous toll on our healthcare system,” said Health Director for the Coastal Health District, Lawton Davis, M.D. “Getting the flu vaccine reduces your chances of getting the flu and that, in turn, helps protect all of us.”

Everyday preventive actions to prevent flu spread are also recommended, like staying home if you’re sick, sneezing and coughing into your elbow, washing hands frequently, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

To get more information on the flu or to download the vaccine consent form ahead of time, please visit gachd.org/flu.

Revised Schedule for COVID-19 Testing at Glynn County Health Department

Beginning Monday, October 5th, the Glynn County Health Department’s COVID-19 testing hours will change.

The new schedule for testing will be:

  • Mondays – Wednesdays from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Thursdays from 12-6 p.m.
  • Fridays from 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Every 2nd and 4th Saturday from 8-11 a.m.

All testing is by appointment only. Appointments can be scheduled online at covid19.dph.ga.gov or by phone at 1-912-230-9744.

“We’ve refined and streamlined our specimen collection process over the past several months, and we can move people quickly through the testing site,” said Adam Sanchez, Nurse Manager of the Glynn County Health Department. “Reducing our testing site hours will allow staff to focus on other health department services while still meeting the demand for COVID-19 testing. Even with this new schedule, we can accommodate more than 2,000 appointments for testing each week.”

Anyone can be tested, and there is no fee. If you believe you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please remember to quarantine at home for 14 days, and schedule an appointment for testing around the 10th day. Testing cannot be scheduled more than 2 weeks in advance.

For a list of free COVID-19 testing options through the Coastal Health District, visit our COVID-19 testing page.

Beach Advisories Lifted in Glynn County

Update: September 23, 2020

The Glynn County Health Department has lifted the beach water advisories on St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island.

Advisories have been lifted for:

  • Massengale Park Beach (Driftwood Drive to Cedar Street) on St. Simons Island,
  • Fifth Street Crossover Beach (Cedar Street to 9th Street) on St. Simons Island, and
  • Captain Wylly Road Crossover Beach (Brice Lane to beach pavilion) on Jekyll Island.

The advisories were issued on September 22, 2020 after routine water quality tests showed a high level of enterococci bacteria which increase the risk of gastrointestinal illness in swimmers.

Subsequent water samples showed that the bacteria levels had dropped below Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limits.


September 22, 2020

The Glynn County Health Department has issued beach water advisories for 2 beaches on St. Simons Island and 1 beach on Jekyll Island. The affected areas are:

  • Massengale Park Beach (Driftwood Drive to Cedar Street) on St. Simons Island,
  • Fifth Street Crossover Beach (Cedar Street to 9th Street) on St. Simons Island, and
  • Captain Wylly Road Crossover Beach (Brice Lane to beach pavilion) on Jekyll Island.
graphic showing the beach water advisory signs

The Department of Natural Resources – Coastal Resources Division tests water samples on Glynn County beaches throughout the year. The tests screen for enterococcus (pronounced: en·ter·o·coc·cus) bacteria, which are found in humans and some wildlife. The testing program is not related to the capsized motor vehicle carrier in St. Simons Sound.

When a beach is under advisory, it means the level of bacteria found in the water is above the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended standards. This does NOT mean the beach is closed.

These beach water advisories alert the public of a possible risk of illness associated with water contact in the advisory areas. The Health Department recommends you do not swim or wade in the water in the areas under advisory. Fish and other seafood caught from these areas should be thoroughly washed with fresh water and thoroughly cooked before eating, as should fish or seafood caught from any waters.

The areas will be re-tested this week, and the advisories will be lifted when the bacteria levels meet the EPA’s recommended standards. For more information, visit our Beach Water Testing page.

Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Testing Event September 25

In observance of National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAAD), free, confidential HIV testing will be offered from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, September 25th at the First City Pride Center at 1515 Bull Street. A rapid HIV test will provide results in one minute. The event is sponsored by Project POWER (Protecting Ourselves With Every Resource), a Coastal Health District Initiative to stop the spread of HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and to encourage a more open dialogue between partners.

Launched in 2008, NGMHAAD is observed every September to direct attention to the continuing and disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on gay and bisexual men in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 6 gay and bisexual men living with HIV are still unaware of their status, underscoring a need for HIV education, testing and prevention services among that population. Last year’s theme, “The conversation about HIV is changing,” continues through 2020, and is anchored in the new tools we have to combat HIV such as PrEP, a medication that prevents HIV when taken as prescribed.  

First City Pride Center is an inclusive advocacy, social and service organization actively working to meet the needs for safety, empowerment, education, and well-being of Savannah’s LGBTQIA+ community.

In compliance with the citywide order, all event attendees are required to wear a mask or face covering. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should not attend.

For more information about testing, please contact Gregory Battle at 912-644-5826 or email Gregory.Battle@dph.ga.gov. To coordinate media interviews, please call Sally Silbermann at 912-484-4116 or email Sally.Silbermann@dph.ga.gov.

New Administrator Named for Chatham County Health Department

Chris Rustin, DrPH, MS, REHS, has been named Administrator of the Chatham County Health Department. Dr. Rustin replaces Randy McCall, PhD, who retired in April after more than 30 years in public health.

In his position as Administrator, Dr. Rustin will be responsible for supervising all Chatham County Health Department programs. He will also serve as public health liaison to various agencies and organizations throughout the community.

Dr. Rustin began his public health career more than two decades ago as an Environmental Health Specialist for the Evans County Health Department. He later managed the Environmental Health programs for the Chatham and Effingham County Health Departments. He left the Coastal Health District 2009 to serve as Deputy Director and then Director of Environmental Health for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) in Atlanta.

Most recently, Dr. Rustin served on the DPH leadership team as Director for the Division of Health Protection. In that role, he was responsible for oversight of several programs including Environmental Health, EMS and Trauma, Chronic Disease Prevention, Infectious Disease Control, Injury Prevention, Emergency and Health Care Preparedness, Pharmacy, and Immunizations. He was also tasked with coordinating the DPH operational response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After spending a decade at the State Department of Public Health in Atlanta, I am excited to return as the Administrator of the Chatham County Health Department,” said Rustin. “As public health services are profoundly local, my goal is to ensure the Chatham County Health Department provides the best public health services to the citizens and visitors of Chatham County. I want to thank the employees of the Chatham County Health Department for their tireless work responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and I look forward to supporting them and collaborating with the county and city governments moving forward.”  

Dr. Rustin has a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Master of Science in Safety and Environmental Compliance, and a Doctor of Public Health with an emphasis on Community Health. He is a Registered Environmental Health Specialist with the Georgia Board of Registered Environmental Health Professionals, a Fellow of the CDC Environmental Public Health Leadership Institute, and the current President-Elect of the Georgia Public Health Association.