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

Effingham News


WIC Services to be Offered Via Telephone Only

CHATHAM COUNTY, GA – To reduce the number of clients coming into health departments, the Coastal Health District is moving to phone-only appointments for families enrolled in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program beginning Monday, April 13.

WIC clients in all Coastal Health District counties will receive a text message with this information. There is no immediate need for clients to respond when they receive the text. Our clinic staff will reach out directly to all clients to complete appointments and make sure the addresses we have on file are correct so WIC vouchers can be mailed.

For more information on WIC services, go to GaCHD.org/WIC.

Sharp Increases in COVID-19 Cases and Deaths in Georgia

Atlanta – The numbers of cases and deaths from COVID-19 have steadily increased in Georgia and around the country in recent days. These numbers are dramatic, and the grief over loved ones lost to the virus is unfathomable. With more testing, the numbers will continue to increase.

Without question, these numbers also tell us that COVID-19 is widespread throughout Georgia. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is calling on all Georgians to do their part to stop further spread of this deadly virus.

Stay home – the Governor has issued a shelter-in-place Executive Order that should be observed by all residents and visitors.

Practice social distancing – keep at least 6 feet between yourself and other people.

Wash your hands – use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60% alcohol) if soap and water aren’t readily available.

Wear a mask – The CDC now recommends the use of face masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19, especially where socials distancing is difficult to maintain (grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.), and especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. The

CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.

We know that increased testing means the number of positive cases will increase. But along with that, we are also seeing further spread of COVID-19 throughout Georgia,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., DPH commissioner. “We can stop the spread of COVID-19 in Georgia, but every Georgian must take personal responsibility now and follow the prevention guidance to keep this deadly virus from taking any more precious lives.”

For more information about COVID-19 https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

For updates on the COVID-19 situation as it develops, follow @GaDPH, @GeorgiaEMA, and @GovKemp on Twitter and @GaDPH, @GEMA.OHS, and @GovKemp on Facebook.

Chatham Co. Health Dept. Vital Records Office Temporarily Closed After Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

An employee of the Vital Records office of the Chatham County Health Department has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee became symptomatic on Monday, March 30th, and left work to self-isolate at home. Health Department administrators were notified of the lab-confirmed diagnosis on Sunday evening, April 4th.

We believe the risk of exposure to clients is low. Vital Records provides birth and death records and is housed in the Chatham County Health Department building at 1395 Eisenhower Drive in Savannah. A pane of glass separates clients from the Vital Records staff members, so close contact is unlikely. Recent clients of the Vital Records office are advised to take the same precautions as all residents: avoid unnecessary contact with people outside your household, cover your nose and mouth when in public spaces like grocery stores and pharmacies, and call a physician if you develop symptoms.

Coastal Health District staff have notified all the employees who may have been exposed. All employees of the Vital Records office will self-quarantine and the Chatham County Health Department Vital Records office will be closed until at least Tuesday, April 14th.

COVID-19 Death of Effingham County Resident

The Coastal Health District has confirmed the first death of an Effingham County resident from COVID-19. The individual was a 56-year-old male, and it is currently unknown if he had underlying medical conditions.

This is the 5th COVID-19 related death in the Coastal Health District; three residents of Chatham County and one resident of Bryan County have also died from complications of COVID-19.

Statewide, at least 211 people have died from COVID-19, and more than 6,640 people have tested positive for the illness.

To limit spread, all Georgians are asked to stay home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary contact with persons outside your household. If you do need to be in public where it’s not possible to keep a distance of at least 6 feet from others, the CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering. Even people who are not ill may be infected and contagious, so CDC recommends that everyone wear a cloth face covering in places like grocery stores and pharmacies to limit transmission of the virus.

New Data Supports Social Distancing Now More Than Ever

Atlanta – As Governor Brian Kemp and DPH Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., finalize the details of the Executive Order requiring Georgians to shelter in place, it is important to emphasize why these measures are needed now to keep all Georgians healthy and safe and to stop the spread of COVID-19.

For weeks it has been known that people who were positive for COVID-19 but did not have symptoms likely were able to transmit the virus. However, on March 30, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield, M.D., confirmed that new data indicates that as many as 25% of individuals infected with COVID-19 remain asymptomatic. Additionally, science also now informs us that individuals who are symptomatic, are infectious up to 48 hours before symptoms appear. This new information tells the health care community, medical researchers, public health and governments why COVID-19 is spreading so rapidly.

“Until now, containing the spread of COVID-19 has been based on early detection and isolation of people with symptoms of the virus,” said Toomey. “Social distancing and keeping people apart from each other are now more than just recommendations; they are the best weapons we have to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

In addition to social distancing, all Georgians are reminded to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60% alcohol) when soap and water aren’t available. Avoid touching your face, nose, mouth and eyes with unwashed hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and throw the used tissue in the trash.

To read more about presymptomatic transmission of COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-guidance-management-patients.html

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6914e1.htm?s_cid=mm6914e1_w

For more information about COVID-19 https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

For updates on the COVID-19 situation as it develops, follow @GaDPH, @GeorgiaEMA, and @GovKemp on Twitter and @GaDPH, @GEMA.OHS, and @GovKemp on Facebook.

COVID-19 Death in Bryan County Resident

The Coastal Health District has confirmed the first death of a Bryan County resident from COVID-19. The individual was a 65-year-old male with underlying medical conditions.

This is the third COVID-19 related death in the Coastal Health District; two residents of neighboring Chatham County have also died from complications of COVID-19.

Statewide, at least 125 people have died from COVID-19, and more than 4,000 people have tested positive for the illness. There is community-wide transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19, and it’s possible a person can be contagious without even having symptoms. Georgians of all ages should practice social distancing as much as possible. Avoid unnecessary contact with people outside your household, wash your hands often, and isolate yourself from others if you become sick.

Coastal Health District Announces First COVID-19 Deaths

The first two deaths associated with COVID-19 have been confirmed in the Coastal Health District.  The 83-year-old male and 84-year-old female were both residents of Chatham County and both had existing medical conditions.

As of 12 p.m. today, there were more than 2,800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state of Georgia and more than 700 people hospitalized. Cases have appeared in areas all across Georgia, and more confirmed cases are expected as testing increases and the virus spreads.

Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes are at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19. Younger adults can also suffer serious medical difficulties.

All Georgians play a critical role in helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing, and sick people should self-isolate if they develop symptoms of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Update by Health Director Dr. Lawton Davis

On Monday, March 30, 2020, the Coastal Health District participated in a joint press conference held by Chatham County Commission Chairman Al Scott and the mayors of all the municipalities in Chatham County.

The following video features the comments of Dr. Lawton Davis, Health Director of the Coastal Health District. A transcript of his comments are below.

Comments by Dr. Lawton Davis, Health Director, Coastal Health District:

Good afternoon. As of noon today, there have been 46 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the 8-county Coastal Health District. This represents a 283% percent increase in the past week. In Chatham County there are 16 confirmed cases, which represents a 300% increase in the past week.

Here in Chatham County some who focus only on the “numbers” seem to believe that we’ve been relatively lucky thus far; maybe we have. But in no way should we be complacent. One need look no further than Dougherty County / Albany, Georgia to get an inkling of how serious the situation truly is.  Dougherty County is in the top 4 counties in the nation in cases per capita and has had more COVID-19 related deaths than any other county in Georgia.  The last time I checked it is much more rural and isolated than is Chatham County, and it is also quite a bit smaller in population.

Using the retro-spectoscope, we know that it generally takes at least 3, and usually 4-6 weeks from the time of the first documented cases in a community before the situation in that community potentially explodes. Our first cases in Chatham County were confirmed about  1 ½ weeks ago. I fully expect our numbers to increase very rapidly over the next several weeks. And please remember that these numbers only represent the positive tests that were collected here locally where testing has here-to-fore been very limited. We have no way to know how many people may have entered our communities from other parts of the state or country who are confirmed positive, and no way to know the number of local folks who have had very mild symptoms and who have not been tested.   

This is truly a very serious situation. We should all focus on social distancing and “good public health hygiene” to the extreme rather than just focusing on the “numbers.” The “numbers” we’re seeing now are really a retrospective glimpse of what was happening 7 – 10 days ago and is not indicative of the current situation. Unfortunately, it will remain like this until we have the ability to perform “real time” screening as we can do with influenza and HIV – a simple, cheap test that provides rapid and reliable results.

To those of you who are listening and responding in a socially responsible manner, a sincere thank you. To those of you who seem to think that you’re invincible, or that this is a joke, please wake up. Even if you’re relatively young and less likely to have a serious outcome if infected, you can certainly spread COVID-19 to those around you who may be in a more compromised situation. 

In conclusion, I do believe we are fortunate that our community leaders throughout Chatham County have been proactive in instituting protocols to promote social distancing. As individuals, we can and MUST help as much as possible by being responsible and doing our part.

Thank you.

Confirmed Case of COVID-19 in McIntosh County

A McIntosh County resident has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently recovering at home. This is the first confirmed case in a resident of McIntosh County.

An updated count of confirmed cases throughout the state will be available at noon today on the state Department of Public Health website. Case numbers for the 8 counties of the Coastal Health District will also be posted on our Coastal Health District COVID-19 web page.

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

For additional information about proper cleaning and disinfecting, visit the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html.

Confirmed Case of COVID-19 in Long County

A Long County resident has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently hospitalized. This is the first confirmed case in a resident of Long County.

As of noon today, there were more than 1,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state of Georgia and almost 400 people hospitalized. Cases have appeared in areas all across Georgia, and more confirmed cases are expected as testing increases and the virus spreads.

It is also possible for a person who has no symptoms to spread the virus to others. This is why social distancing is so important, because it limits the potential for the virus to spread from person to person.

The Coastal Health District recommends that everyone stay home as much as possible, remember to wash your hands thoroughly and often, and avoid any unnecessary social visits.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, which usually include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, isolate yourself from others if possible and call your physician, an urgent care center, or a federally qualified healthcare center for evaluation. Most people with mild and moderate illness can safely recover at home. If your symptoms are severe, particularly if you have difficulty breathing, seek medical help right away.