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.