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

McIntosh News


Saharan Dust Cloud Moves Over Georgia; DPH Urges Precautions to Protect Health

The Georgia Department of Public Health is urging people, especially individuals with chronic lung conditions, to protect themselves from dust from the Saharan dust cloud as it moves over Georgia. The dust cloud is expected to be around for the next few days.

The dust can cause eye, nose and throat irritation for anyone who comes in contact with it, and may cause wheezing in people with allergies or asthma.

The best advice is to limit exposure to the dust and take precautions to protect your health:

  • If it appears hazy or dusty outside, limit outdoor activities such as yard work, exercise, children playing.
  • Wear a face mask outside to keep dust particles out of the nose and mouth, and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Pay attention to local air quality reports and news coverage related to the dust plume.
  • Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed.

Follow the advice of your doctor or other health care provider about medicines and condition management if you have asthma or another lung condition.

If you experience a medical emergency, call 911.

Strong, warm winds over the Sahara desert typically kick up sand at this time of year and carry it thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean. This year, the dust is more dense than it’s been in 50-60 years.

Georgia DPH Asks Residents to ‘Answer the Call’ in New Contact Tracing Video

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is releasing a new video explaining the state’s COVID-19 contact tracing efforts, asking residents to ‘answer the call’ if DPH reaches out.

This video is part of a larger campaign rolling out across the state promoting the Healthy Georgia Collaborative, DPH’s expanded contact tracing program to combat the spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing is an important public health tool used to monitor the spread of infection and identify outbreaks of COVID-19 before they become widespread community transmission.

Since May, the Healthy Georgia Collaborative has deployed about 1,300 contact tracers and case investigators statewide to interview individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, and then alert, quarantine and test contacts who may have been exposed. To date, 16,590 cases have been interviewed and 40,082 contacts identified.

“For contact tracing to be successful, education is critical,” said DPH Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H. “We need residents to understand what contact tracing is, why it’s important, and how they can participate in helping Georgia stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Beyond explaining the contact tracing process, DPH’s new video also urges residents to “Answer the Call!” When contacts of COVID-19 cases are identified, the first and fastest way that DPH can notify them of their exposure is by calling. “If you don’t pick up the phone,” explains Dr. Toomey, “Then we can’t alert you and get you the support you need. This puts yourself and others at risk of getting sick.”

To encourage participation and reduce scams, when DPH calls, the caller ID will say, “GA COVID Team.” Contact tracers will provide resources and information on testing, symptom monitoring and protection for family members. Any information provided to DPH staff members is kept confidential per HIPAA, which is the law that protects an individual’s personal health information. Georgia’s contact tracing program does not use GPS or Bluetooth technology to track movements of residents.

Contact tracers will never ask for personal information like Social Security numbers, credit card information or citizenship status. If you suspect fraudulent activity or know of someone else who has experienced this, please contact the DPH COVID-19 hotline immediately to report: 1-844-442-2681.

For more information about COVID-19 visit covid19.gachd.org, or the GDPH site at https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus.

WIC Farmers Markets Scheduled

The Coastal Health District Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program will hold several farmers markets for WIC clients in June and July.  All clients who present a WIC ID card will receive a pre-packed variety box of fresh fruits and vegetables at no cost. The markets will remain open on the scheduled days and times until produce runs out.

The following farmers markets have been scheduled:

Liberty County (drive-through farmers market)
Shuman Park Gym at James Brown Park, 800 Tupelo Trail, Hinesville

June 22, 23, & 25
9:15 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

June 26
9:15 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.


Effingham County (drive-through farmers market)
Effingham County Health Department, 802 Hwy. 119 South, Springfield

July 6, 7, & 8
9:15 a.m. – 2 p.m.


McIntosh County (drive-through farmers market)
McIntosh County Health Department, 1335 GA Hwy. 57, Townsend

July 9
9:15 a.m. – 2 p.m.


Chatham County (walk-up farmers market. Social distancing will be required and face coverings are recommended for those over the age of 2).
Chatham County Health Department, 1395 Eisenhower Drive, Savannah

July 13-16
9:15 a.m. – 2 p.m.

July 17
9:15 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program is a special nutrition program that provides nutritional education, food supplements, and referrals to health care providers to eligible women, infants, and children. WIC helps eligible pregnant, breastfeeding or postpartum women, as well as infants and children up to age five.

All WIC services are free of charge. WIC can provide special checks to buy healthy foods from WIC-authorized vendors (such as milk, eggs, bread, cereal, juice, peanut butter, and more), information about nutrition and health to help you and your family eat well and be healthy, support and information about breastfeeding your baby, and help in finding health care and other community services.

To find out if you are eligible for WIC through the Liberty County Health Department, please call (toll-free) 1-855-262-7670. or go to gachd.org/wic and complete the WIC Eligibility Assessment.

WIC is an equal opportunity provider.

COVID-19 Testing Site Changes

Beginning Monday, June 8th, appointments will no longer be required for the Coastal Health District’s COVID-19 specimen collection sites in Savannah and Brunswick. These two sites will be available for drive-through testing several days each week, serving anyone who would like a test at no cost and with no appointment required.

“When these sites were first established, the appointments helped us manage our limited supplies and ensure access for priority testing groups,” said District Health Director, Dr. Lawton Davis. “Now that our supplies have increased and anyone can be tested, we can remove the barrier of scheduling an appointment for two of our busiest testing locations.”

Drive-through testing will be available without an appointment at these two fixed locations beginning June 8, 2020:

Savannah: 7221 Sallie Mood Drive, near the Jennifer Ross Soccer Complex

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • “Pop-up” mobile testing sites in various locations on Tuesdays and Thursdays

Brunswick: 2747 4th Street in the parking lot of the Glynn County Health Dept.

  • Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
  • “Pop-up” mobile testing sites in various locations on Saturdays

Appointments are still required for the two specimen collection sites in Bryan County. The site in Richmond Hill offers free testing 7 days a week by appointment, and the site in Pembroke offers free testing by appointment every Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. Residents can call the Coastal Health District Testing Call Center at 912-230-9744 to begin the scheduling process for those 2 Bryan County sites.

Please note, as we move into the hot summer months, any testing site may close early and unexpectedly because of excessive heat or storms. Outdoor testing locations are ideal for reducing the risk of virus transmission, but thunderstorms pose a risk to health department staff and other first responders. Also, hot temperatures could lead to heat-related illness, especially for personnel wearing full personal protective equipment including masks, gloves, gowns, and face shields.

For additional information on testing, including a list of upcoming mobile testing sites, visit our COVID-19 testing page.

Improvements Coming to COVID-19 Daily Status Report

Atlanta – Effective Tuesday, June 2, there will be several improvements to the COVID-19 Daily Status Report on the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) website. These changes are designed to make the dashboard more user-friendly while providing an accurate picture of COVID-19 in Georgia.

The changes to the Daily Status Report will include:

  • Once daily updates at 3 p.m. to allow time to process and validate laboratory and case reports.
  • Reordering the display of key summary metrics as follows: Confirmed COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, Deaths, ICU Admissions.
  • A breakdown of the total number of molecular (PCR) tests, the total number of serology tests, and the number of positives and percentage of positives for each test type.
  • Revised charts of key demographics that more clearly present data.
  • Improved usability of charts and refinements to labelling and supporting documentation of the data. 

DPH will regularly review and update features of the dashboard to improve data quality and accuracy.

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

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

COVID-19 Death in McIntosh County

The Coastal Health District has confirmed that a resident of McIntosh County has died from complications of COVID-19. The individual was a 63- year-old female who had underlying medical conditions.

This is the first confirmed COVID-19 related death in McIntosh County, where there have been 16 confirmed cases of the illness to date. For more information about COVID-19 in our area, visit the Coastal Health District at covid19.gachd.org

Additional Allotments of Remdesivir for Treatment of COVID-19 Distributed to Georgia Hospitals

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) this week is distributing 18,440 vials of the drug remdesivir received from the federal government. Nearly 85 hospitals in Georgia will receive remdesivir, enough to treat about 1,676 patients with COVID-19 infection, depending on the duration of an individual’s illness and treatment needs.

Remdesivir is an antiviral medicine being used to treat hospitalized patients with serious symptoms caused by COVID-19 like low oxygen levels or pneumonia. It has been found to shorten the duration of disease in patients being treated in inpatient hospital settings. Remdesivir is given intravenously (IV) and decreases the amount of coronavirus in the body, helping patients recover faster.

Georgia hospitals receiving remdesivir had patients who met the federal criteria for treatment including COVID-19 positive patients on ventilators, in addition to patients currently being treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a machine that takes over the work of the heart and lungs.

Remdesivir has not been approved by the FDA for widespread use because it is considered investigational and it is still being studied. Remdesivir was originally developed for use against Ebola. Clinical trials for remdesivir were done in Georgia at Emory University Hospital.

Georgia Hospitals/Hospital Systems Receiving Allotments of Remdesivir

In the Coastal Health District, the following hospitals are receiving allotments of remdesivir:

  • Memorial Health University Medical Center
  • Southeast Georgia Health System
  • St. Joseph’s/Candler

For a full list of hospitals throughout Georgia receiving remdesivir, view the press release from the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Georgia DPH Distributes Remdesivir to Hospitals for Treatment of COVID-19

Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health(DPH) today is distributing an initial allotment of the drug remdesivir received from the federal government. Georgia received 30 cases, with 40 vials of the drug per case, enough to treat about 110 patients, depending on the duration of an individual’s treatment.

Remdesivir is an antiviral medicine being used to treat hospitalized patients with serious symptoms caused by COVID-19 like low oxygen levels or pneumonia. It has been found to shorten the duration of disease in patients being treated in inpatient hospital settings. Remdesivir is given intravenously (IV) and decreases the amount of coronavirus in the body, helping patients recover faster.

The distribution plan for remdesivir in Georgia was developed by DPH leadership, including district health directors and emergency preparedness staff, in accordance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines for its use. It is based on the number of patients on ventilators, the most severely ill, and clinical best practices.

Georgia hospitals receiving remdesivir reported 10 or more COVID-19 positive patients on ventilators, in addition to patients currently being treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a machine that takes over the work of the heart and lungs. These criteria are subject to change based on the availability of remdesivir and the development of patient care at hospital facilities across the state.

The following hospitals are receiving remdesivir; Tift Regional Medical Center, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Grady Health System, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, and Augusta University Medical Center.

“DPH is pleased to have the opportunity to share this promising treatment with hospitals on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., DPH commissioner. “While this drug is not a cure for COVID-19, getting it into the hospitals and improving patient outcomes is moving in the right direction.”

Georgia has received a second, much larger allotment of remdesivir. DPH is surveying hospitals statewide over the weekend to determine need. This second allotment will be distributed next week.

Gilead Sciences, Inc. committed to supplying approximately 607,000 vials of the experimental drug over the next six weeks to treat an estimated 78,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients under an emergency use agreement (EUA). The donation to the United States is part of 1.5 million vials of remdesivir the company is donating worldwide.

Remdesivir has not been approved by the FDA for widespread use because it is considered investigational and it is still being studied. Remdesivir was originally developed for use against Ebola. Clinical trials for remdesivir were done in Georgia at Emory University Hospital.

UPDATE 5.21.20
Second Allotment of Remdesivir Headed to Hospitals for Treatment of COVID-19

Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health(DPH) is distributing a second allotment of the drug remdesivir received from the federal government. Twenty-nine hospitals in Georgia will receive remdesivir, enough to treat more than 300 patients, depending on the duration of an individual’s illness and treatment needs.

Remdesivir is an antiviral medicine being used to treat hospitalized patients with serious symptoms caused by COVID-19 like low oxygen levels or pneumonia. It has been found to shorten the duration of disease in patients being treated in inpatient hospital settings. Remdesivir is given intravenously (IV) and decreases the amount of coronavirus in the body, helping patients recover faster.

3,440 vials of remdesivir, able to treat approximately 310 patients, will be distributed to 29 hospitals affiliated with the following healthcare systems: Navicent, Northside, Piedmont and WellStar.

Georgia hospitals receiving remdesivir reported 10 or more COVID-19 positive patients on ventilators, in addition to patients currently being treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a machine that takes over the work of the heart and lungs. These criteria are subject to change based on the availability of remdesivir and the development of patient care at hospital facilities across the state.

A third allotment of remdesivir in powder form is expected to arrive in Georgia by Friday. The liquid form of remdesivir is not recommended for pediatric use, but the powder form can be mixed for dosing based on a child’s weight, which will provide treatment for the youngest patients with COVID-19 infection.

Gilead Sciences, Inc., the maker of remdesivir, is donating approximately 607,000 vials of the experimental drug to treat an estimated 78,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients under an emergency use agreement (EUA). The donation to the United States is part of 1.5 million vials of remdesivir the company is donating worldwide.

Remdesivir has not been approved by the FDA for widespread use because it is considered investigational and it is still being studied. Remdesivir was originally developed for use against Ebola. Clinical trials for remdesivir were done in Georgia at Emory University Hospital.

For more information about COVID-19 visit 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.

Georgia Department of Public Health Adds Staff, Expands Contact Tracing for COVID-19

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is increasing its workforce to expand contact tracing for COVID-19 in Georgia. Contact tracing is used to identify and mitigate hotspots of infection to help prevent further spread of the virus.

Currently, about 250 contact tracers are deployed throughout the state. To date, more than 3,800 individuals testing positive for COVID-19 have been contacted and nearly 13,000 contacts identified.

In partnership with the CDC Foundation, a deployment coordinator and a training and learning coordinator have joined DPH’s COVID-19 response team. Together these individuals will oversee the training and deployment of hundreds of contact tracers being hired by the Department. They will work closely with the 18 public health districts to ensure operational issues and staffing needs are addressed, and that performance metrics established by DPH and district leadership are met.

DPH’s goal is to have over 1,000 contact tracers within weeks to strengthen its contact tracing efforts. Training is underway for 200 new contact tracers and 70 medical students and M.P.H. candidates who joined DPH in the past two weeks.

Along with the additional contact tracers, DPH is introducing a new online monitoring tool developed by Google/MTX to make contact tracing more efficient. Once a COVID-19 case is identified, public health staff work with that individual to help them recall everyone they have had close contact with and where they went while they may have been infectious. Contacts identified during this interview will be called by trained DPH staff indicating that they have been exposed to COVID-19 and asking them to enroll in DPH symptom monitoring and informing them that they must self-quarantine for 14 days after the exposure.

The web-based portal allows identified contacts to easily answer questions about their health and their symptoms related to COVID-19. If the contact reports symptoms, the system will prompt the individual to call 911 if they are in a medical emergency or to consult with their healthcare provider if they are sick and need medical care. Individuals with mild symptoms who do not need medical care will then be provided information on how to schedule COVID-19 testing.

Contacts will receive a daily text message for 14 days reminding them to report if they have symptoms through the monitoring tool, and they will also receive information about what to do if they are or become sick. Individuals who do not report daily will be contacted by DPH. For people who do not wish to use the online system or receive texts, they can call DPH directly to report their symptoms.

Confidentiality is critical to the success of contact tracing. Contact tracing in Georgia is 100% confidential – the identity of the person who tests positive and the information on those who might have been exposed will not be shared. Georgia’s contact tracing does not use GPS or Bluetooth technology to track movements. The monitoring tool does not collect any data other than what is entered by the contact.

COVID-19 Testing Now Available to all Georgians

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has reached its goal of testing 100,000 individuals in 10 days. More than 108,000 tests were processed since Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H, set the DPH goal last week.

“This is an important benchmark for Georgia as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the state,” said Toomey. “Increased testing is critical to understanding where there are hotspots of infection and how best to mitigate them.”

Effective immediately, testing is available to all Georgians who request it, whether they have symptoms or not. There are more than 65 specimen point of collection sites (SPOC) throughout the state, with an additional 30 mobile SPOCs – locations and hours vary daily.

Individuals wanting to be tested can contact any Georgia public health department to schedule an appointment at a SPOC location convenient to them. For phone numbers and more testing information, visit our COVID-19 Testing Page.