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

Long News


Celebrate Thanksgiving Safely; Stay Home to Reduce the Risk of COVID-19 Transmission

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing families to make difficult decisions about their 2020 Thanksgiving celebrations. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) urges all Georgians to plan ahead and take steps to reduce risk of exposure to COVID-19 and the flu as they celebrate.

COVID-19 spreads easily whether gatherings are large or small, putting families and friends at risk – especially individuals who are elderly or have underlying medical conditions. The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to stay home and celebrate with people in your own household. Travel increases the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.

“The surge of COVID-19 infections in Georgia and across the country mean we must rethink our idea of a traditional Thanksgiving this year,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., DPH commissioner. “Each family must assess the risk of exposure to COVID-19, especially among elderly or medically fragile individuals, as they weigh the decision to host or attend a holiday gathering. Everyone needs to follow the guidance of wearing a face mask, social distancing and washing your hands frequently. And get a flu shot.” 

If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people you don’t live with, take steps to reduce the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends individuals who have not lived in the household during the two weeks ahead of the holiday (members of the military or college students home for the holiday) stay in a separate area of the house with a designated bathroom, if possible. Other recommendations include:

Wear a mask

  • Wear a mask with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
  • Make sure the mask fits snugly against the sides of your face.

Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you

Wash your hands

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Keep hand sanitizer with you and use it when you are unable to wash your hands.
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Attending a Gathering

  • Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups and utensils.
  • Wear a mask, and safely store your mask while eating and drinking.
  • Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen.
  • Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates and utensils.

Hosting a Thanksgiving Gathering

  • Have a small outdoor meal with family and friends who live in your community.
  • Limit the number of guests.
  • Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
  • If celebrating indoors, make sure to open windows.
  • Limit the number of people in food preparation areas.
  • Have guests bring their own food and drink.
  • If sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils.

Thanksgiving Travel

  • Check travel restrictions before you go.
  • Get your flu shot before you travel.
  • Always wear a mask in public settings and on public transportation.
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart from anyone who is not in your household.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer.

For more information about safely celebrating Thanksgiving log on to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html.

For updates on COVID-19, follow @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Twitter and @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Facebook.

Free, Confidential HIV Testing and Giveaway Events Scheduled

Free, confidential HIV testing events have been scheduled in observance of World AIDS Day. There will be giveaways at all events, while supplies last.

Upcoming Events

Free HIV Testing & Turkey Giveaway
Thursday, November 19
1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Chatham County Health Department
1395 Eisenhower Drive, Savannah

Get tested and get a free frozen turkey, face mask, and hand sanitizer while supplies last. (One turkey per household. Must be 16 years of age or older to get tested).

Free HIV Testing & Gift Card Giveaway
Chatham County Health Department
1602 Drayton Street, Savannah
Monday, November 30
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Free testing and giveaways including gift cards, swag bags, and self-protection kits while supplies last.

Free HIV Testing & Gift Card Giveaway
Glynn County Health Department
Tuesday, December 1
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
2747 Fourth Street, Brunswick
Free testing and giveaways including gift cards, swag bags, and self-protection kits while supplies last.

Launched in 1988, World AIDS Day is observed every year on December 1. The Coastal Health District, along with organizations all over the world, holds events on and around that day to promote awareness of HIV, decrease stigma surrounding HIV, and advocate for an end to the HIV epidemic. As a reminder, HIV testing is always free at all health departments in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties and available Monday through Friday during regular health department hours of operation.

Masks required and social distancing observed at all events.

Free Flu Shots Offered at November Drive-Through Flu Vaccination Clinics

Health departments in the Coastal Health District will offer free flu shots at drive-through vaccination clinics in November. The following clinics have been scheduled:

Long County
Wednesday, November 4th
8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Long County Health Department, 584 N. Macon Street in Ludowici

Camden County
Saturday, November 7th
10 a.m. – 2 p.m. o
Georgia Power, 135 Gross Road in Kingsland

Glynn County
Saturday, November 7th
8 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Glynn County Health Department, 2747 4th Street in Brunswick

Chatham County
Thursday, November 12th
8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Savannah Civic Center (enter from Barnard St. at Orleans Square)

Effingham County
Thursday, November 12th
2 – 5 p.m.
Effingham County Annex, 768 Hwy. 119 South in Springfield

McIntosh County
Thursday, November 12th
2-6 p.m.
McIntosh County Health Department
1335 GA Hwy. 57 in Townsend

No appointment is necessary at the drive-through vaccination clinics. Flu vaccinations are also available at health departments by appointment during regular operating hours, Monday through Friday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza caused at least 410,000 hospitalizations last year. Getting vaccinated helps lower the chances of severe illness and hospitalizations.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is to get a flu shot this year,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, District Health Director for the Coastal Health District. “Getting the flu vaccine and good public health hygiene practices are the best tools we have to stop influenza.”The same everyday preventive actions that are helping prevent the spread of COVID-19  are also recommended for preventing the flu: Stay home and away from others when you’re sick, cover coughs and sneezes, wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and wear a mask when out in public.

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

Public Health Precautions Encouraged on Halloween

Halloween is full of longstanding traditions like trick-or-treating and haunted houses, but some of those customs can put you at higher risk of getting or spreading COVID-19. Communities are encouraged to think outside of the box when considering Halloween activities this year.

“There are plenty of alternatives that will allow children and adults to enjoy the holiday safely,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, District Health Director for the Coastal Health District. “The key is to plan ahead and come up with ways to celebrate that will lessen the risk of getting COVID-19.”

Some ideas for lower-risk Halloween activities include:

  • Plan a movie night and connect with friends online while watching the movie “together.”
  • Have a socially distanced costume parade down your street or in your neighborhood.
  • Have a Halloween party for those living in your household.
  • Coordinate an outdoor, socially distanced Halloween scavenger hunt.

    If you make the decision participate in trick-or-treating, consider the following:
  • Put individually wrapped goody bags on a table in the front yard so children can grab and go.
  • Use duct tape to mark spaces 6 feet apart leading to the table.
  • Place a bottle of hand sanitizer on the table.
  • Make sure to wash hands before and after handling treats.

Large in-person group gatherings are discouraged. Also, typical costume masks should not be substituted for cloth facemasks that are recommended to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Consider making a Halloween-themed cloth mask part of the costume.

If you or anyone in your household has tested positive, has symptoms, is waiting for test results, may have been exposed within the past 14 days, or is at high risk for complications from COVID-19, do not take part in any in-person festivities.

Additional information can be found at cdc.gov.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

COVID-19 Testing, Health Dept. Operational Schedule for Labor Day, Sept. 7

Health Department clinics, Environmental Health offices, and Coastal Health District offices will be closed on Monday, September 7th in observance of Labor Day.

The COVID-19 testing sites in Brunswick and Savannah will be operational on Labor Day with reduced hours.

Drive-through COVID-19 Testing in Brunswick is by appointment only, and will be available Monday, September 7 from 8-10:30 a.m. To make an appointment for testing, call 1-912-230-9744 and choose option #3, or click here to schedule an appointment online.

Drive-through COVID-19 Testing in Savannah is available without an appointment at the Civic Center at 301 West Oglethorpe Ave. The site will be operational Saturday, September 5 from 8:30-11:30 a.m., and Monday, September 7 from 8-10:30 a.m.

The Coastal Health District’s COVID-19 Testing Call Center will be operational with normal hours, Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., closed Sundays, and open Monday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. The call center number is 1-912-230-9744.

Click here for more information about COVID-19 testing in the Coastal Health District.

Chlorine Dioxide Should NOT be used to Treat COVID-19

The Department of Public Health has received reports that people are using diluted chlorine dioxide to “treat” COVID-19.  Chlorine dioxide is a bleach-like cleaning agent and, if ingested, can have severe, adverse health effects, including death.

Chlorine dioxide products have not been shown to be safe and effective for any use, including treatment of COVID-19.

Products are being marketed online under various names: MSS, Miracle Mineral Solution, Master Mineral Solution, Water Purification Solution, CDS, Aqueous Chlorine Dioxide, and others.

Ingesting chlorine dioxide products are not meant to be swallowed by people, and can lead to:

  • Respiratory failure
  • Potentially fatal abnormal heart rhythms
  • Life-threatening low blood pressure caused by dehydration
  • Acute liver failure
  • Low blood cell counts
  • Severe vomiting
  • Severe diarrhea

The Georgia Poison Center advises that chlorine dioxide not be swallowed, and not be used outside of industrial settings where appropriate precautions against injury from this chemical can be used.

For more information or if you or someone you know has ingested chlorine dioxide, call the Georgia Poison Center Hotline: 1-800-222-1222

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Warning:

The FDA reminds consumers to be cautious of websites and stores selling products that claim to prevent, mitigate, treat, diagnose or cure COVID-19. Fraudulent COVID-19 products may come in many varieties, including dietary supplements and other foods, as well as products purporting to be drugs, medical devices or vaccines. Products that claim to cure, mitigate, treat, diagnose or prevent disease, but are not proven safe and effective for those purposes, defraud consumers of money and can place consumers at risk for serious harm. Using these products may lead to delays in getting proper diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 and other potentially serious diseases and conditions.