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

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DPH Provides Update on COVID-19 Trends in Georgia

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is providing the following information regarding the fight against COVID-19 in Georgia:

Positive Indicators

COVID-19 Cases

  • During 8/3-8/9, Georgia’s weekly statewide case numbers decreased by 7%.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that Georgia has experienced a 22% decrease in case numbers over the past two weeks relative to the two weeks prior to that, and that we have seen a downward trajectory of cases for two weeks now.
  • The highest % of case numbers still come from the high population counties in metro Atlanta (Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Cobb have the highest case numbers) but these counties are actually experiencing decreases now.

Testing

  • As of Aug. 13, the state reported over 1.9 million COVID-19 tests.
  • Eight of the last nine days reporting more than 25,000 tests per day.
  • Average of nearly 31,000 per day over the last nine days.
  • DPH is operating 180 SPOCs, including mobile and pop-up locations statewide.
  • The number of specimens collected at DPH SPOCs has now passed 750,000.

Positivity Rate

Positivity rates are decreasing from 11.86% on 7/27 to 10.98% on 8/3 to 9.5% on 8/9/20.

Hospitalizations

Daily hospitalizations have decreased 6.62% in the past seven days.

  • 8/06: 3,006
  • 8/07: 2,981
  • 8/08: 2,878
  • 8/09: 2,878
  • 8/10: 2,871
  • 8/11: 2,881
  • 8/12: 2,865
  • 8/13: 2,807

Emergency Department Visits

  • Emergency Department (ED) visits related to COVID-19 are slightly decreasing and influenza- like illness (ILI) visits are slightly decreasing.

Areas of Concern

Emerging Hotspots

  • We are seeing decreases in many other areas, but we see growth and/or high transmission in rural middle GA (Bleckley, Appling, Wayne, Taylor, Crawford, etc.), NW GA (driven partially by many outbreaks in manufacturing facilities), east central GA and areas of south Georgia. These increases are driven by ongoing community transmission as well as outbreaks.

Increasing Outbreaks

  • Aug. 6-12: 110 outbreaks

These outbreaks are occurring in settings where people are physically congregating and underscore the need for distancing and source control.

  • Long-term care facilities 23
  • Schools/school athletic teams 14
  • Offices/workplaces 14
  • Manufacturing facilities 13
  • Prisons/jails 13
  • Churches 8
  • Restaurants 4

Outbreaks were also documented in hospitals/outpatient facilities, daycares and grocery stores.

For more state-level data, visit the DPH website: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report

For more Coastal Health District data, visit our COVID-19 data page: https://covid19.gachd.org/covid-19-data-and-charts/

West Nile Virus Detected in Chatham Co. Mosquito Population

Chatham County Mosquito Control has confirmed that a mosquito sample collected from an area in south Savannah has tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). Mosquito control personnel routinely collect and sample mosquitoes in all areas of Chatham County. This is the first positive WNV test in the Chatham County mosquito population this year. Chatham County Mosquito Control will treat the area with insecticide Wednesday evening.

No human cases of WNV have been confirmed this year in Georgia. WNV is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV do not feel sick. About 20% of people who are infected will have mild symptoms like a fever, headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. However, a West Nile Virus infection can be serious, and 1 out of 150 infected people develop a severe, sometimes fatal, illness.

“This report of West Nile Virus in our mosquito population is unwelcome but not unexpected, as we typically see mosquito activity increase in the summer,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, Health Director of the Coastal Health District. “There is no vaccine or cure for West Nile Virus, so the best protection is to avoid mosquito bites.”

Residents are always encouraged to follow the “5 Ds” of mosquito bite prevention:

  • Dusk/Dawn – Avoid dusk and dawn activities during the summer when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Dress – Wear loose-fitting, long sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
  • DEET – Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing the DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
  • Drain – Empty any outdoor containers holding standing water because they are breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.
  • Doors – Make sure doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly, and fix torn or damaged screens to keep mosquitoes out of the house.

Beach Advisories Lifted for St. Simons Island Beaches

Update: August 7, 2020

The Glynn County Health Department has lifted the beach water advisories for St. Simons Island beaches.

The advisories were issued on August 5, 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. Therefore, the advisories have been lifted.


August 5, 2020

The Glynn County Health Department has issued beach water advisories for all 5 public beach areas on St. Simons Island.

graphic showing the beach water advisory signs

The Department of Natural Resources – Coastal Resources Division tests water samples on St. Simons and Jekyll Islands 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 affected areas include:

  • North Beach at Goulds Inlet (Fifteenth Street to Tenth Street)
  • East Beach at the Old Coast Guard Station (Tenth Street to Driftwood Drive)
  • Massengale Park Beach (Driftwood Drive to Cedar Street)
  • 5th Street Crossover Beach (Cedar Street to Ninth Street)
  • South Beach at the Lighthouse (Ninth Street to the Pier)

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 about beach water testing, visit our Beach Water Testing Program page.

Drive-Through HIV Testing Events Scheduled

To raise awareness about the importance of HIV Testing and knowing your HIV status, the Coastal Health District will hold free drive-thru HIV testing events from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 15th, in the parking lot of Diversity Health Center in Hinesville and on Saturday, August 22nd in the parking lot of Brunswick High School in Brunswick. Testing is free and confidential and no appointment is necessary.

Testing is the first step in maintaining a healthy life and reducing the spread of HIV. Results will be available in one minute. A follow-up visit will be scheduled for anyone who tests positive and counseling will be made available to those individuals.

Those getting tested will receive free giveaways, including gift cards. Staff will also be available to discuss HIV prevention options such as PrEP, the daily pill to prevent HIV.

Around 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and one in eight people do not know they have it.  This is an opportunity to raise awareness, encourage people to get the facts, tested, get involved, and get linked to care and treatment services.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. People at higher risk should get tested more often.

As a reminder, HIV testing is free by appointment 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. Anyone with questions about testing can call Diane DeVore at (912) 644-5828 or e-mail Diane.Devore@dph.ga.gov.

Protect Yourself & Your Family from Diseases

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). This annual observance highlights the importance of getting recommended vaccines throughout your life. You have the power to protect yourself and your family against serious diseases (like whooping cough, cancers caused by HPV, and pneumonia) through on-time vaccination.

During NIAM, the Coastal Health District encourages you talk to your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional to ensure that you, your child, and your family are up to date on recommended vaccines.

We also encourage you to visit CDC’s Interactive Vaccine Guide, which provides information on the vaccines recommended during pregnancy and throughout your child’s life.

As your children head back to school, whether in-person or virtually, make sure vaccination is at the top of your checklist. August is also a key time to make sure you are up to date on all the vaccines you need to stay healthy. Use CDC’s adult vaccine assessment tool to see which vaccines might be right for you.

Vaccinations protect you and they protect others around you; especially infants and those individuals who are unable to be immunized or who have weakened immune systems.

Vaccines protect families, teens and children by preventing disease. They help avoid expensive therapies and hospitalization needed to treat infectious diseases like influenza and pneumococcal disease. Vaccinations also reduce absences both at school and at work and decrease the spread of illness in the home, workplace and community.

Students born on or after January 1, 2002 and entering the seventh-grade need proof of an adolescent pertussis (whooping cough) booster and adolescent meningococcal vaccinations. Every child in a Georgia school system (Kindergarten-12th grade), attending a child care facility, or a new student of any age entering a Georgia school for the first time is required by law to have a Georgia Immunization Certificate, Form 3231. Below are the immunizations required for child care and school attendance:

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Pertussis
  • Polio
  • Measles
  • PCV13 (up to age 5 years)
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Hib disease (up to age 5 years)
  • Varicella
  • Meningococcal Conjugate

Some schools, colleges, and universities have policies requiring vaccination against meningococcal disease as a condition of enrollment. Students aged 21 years or younger should have documentation of receipt of a dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine not more than five years before enrollment. If the primary dose was administered before their 16th birthday, a booster dose should be administered before enrollment in college.

Safe and effective vaccines are available to protect adults and children alike against potentially life- threatening diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, meningococcal disease, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, shingles, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox). So talk to your health care provider or visit your public health department and get immunized today.

For more information on immunization, visit http://dph.georgia.gov/immunization-section.

Health Departments to Provide No Cost Vision, Hearing, Dental, & Nutrition Screening for School Students

Although the start of school may look a little different this year, students entering a Georgia school for the first time – no matter what the grade level – must have a completed Certificate of Vision, Hearing, Dental, and Nutrition screening form. “First time” means never enrolled in a Georgia school before at any time in their lives.

Health departments in the Coastal Health District will offer no cost vision, hearing, dental, and nutrition screening – by appointment only – for school students. Normally a $30 fee applies when getting the screening at the health department.

Immunization services will also be available at regular cost. Most insurance is accepted and there are low-cost options for people without insurance. Children born on or after January 1, 2002 who are attending seventh grade and new entrants into Georgia schools in grades 8 through 12 must have received one dose of Tdap vaccine and one dose of meningococcal vaccine. (“New entrant” means any child entering any school in Georgia for the first time or entering after having been absent from a Georgia school for more than 12 months or one school year).

The HPV vaccine is also recommended for both girls and boys starting at ages 11–12 to protect against cancers and other diseases caused by human papillomavirus.

Call your local health department to schedule an appointment.

No Cost Vision, Hearing, Dental, and Nutrition Clinic Schedules

Bryan County
August 17th (Pembroke) and August 19th (Richmond Hill)
Appointments can be scheduled by calling 912-653-4331 (Pembroke) or 912-756-2611 (Richmond Hill).

Chatham County
August 10th – 14th
Appointments can be scheduled by calling 912-356-2441.

Effingham County
Tuesday, August 18th, and Thursday, August 20th
Appointments can be scheduled by calling 912-754-6484.

Glynn County
August 10th – 14th
Appointments can be scheduled by calling 912-264-3961 and choosing option 9.

Liberty County
Monday, August 17th, and Tuesday, August 18th
Appointments can be scheduled by calling 912-876-2173.

Long County
Monday, August 10th, and Wednesday, August 12th
Appointments can be scheduled by calling 912-545-2107.

McIntosh County
Thursday, August 13th, and Monday, August 17th
Appointments can be scheduled by calling 912-832-5473.

Coastal Health District to Suspend Operations Monday, August 3rd

The Coastal Health District will suspend operations on Monday, August 3rd due to the potential for wind and rain associated with Tropical Storm Isaias.

All district offices, county health departments, and COVID-19 specimen collection sites will be closed. Anyone with an appointment scheduled for Monday will be notified of the closure and will have the opportunity to reschedule. The COVID-19 Testing Call Center will also be closed on Monday.

All sites and the call center are expected to reopen with normal hours on Tuesday, August 4th.

Online Self-Scheduling Now Available for COVID-19 Testing in Bryan County

You can now go online to schedule an appointment for COVID-19 testing by the Bryan County Health Department. Simply access an online self-service portal, take a brief screening questionnaire, and book your appointment for testing. The self-service portal can be accessed through a link at gachd.org/covidtest.

Individuals still have the option to call if they prefer to make an appointment over the phone. To schedule an appointment by telephone or to get testing information for any Coastal Health District county, call our COVID-19 Testing Call Center at 1-912-230-9744.

Testing is offered three times each week in Bryan County. In Richmond Hill, testing is available on Tuesday and Thursday mornings by appointment at Henderson Park, 500 Veterans Memorial Parkway, behind the County Administration Building off Highway 144. On Friday mornings, testing is available by appointment at the Health Department’s Pembroke location at 430 Ledford Street.

Please do not show up more than 10 minutes before your appointment time. Arriving early can create long lines at the drive-through testing site, and the process will go more smoothly if individuals arrive at their designated appointment time. If you cannot keep your appointment, please go online or call to cancel so the appointment time will be available to someone else.

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 more information about COVID-19 in our area, visit covid19.gachd.org.

Glynn County Health Department Expands Hours for COVID-19 Testing

Beginning Monday, August 3rd, the Glynn County Health Department’s COVID-19 testing site will offer more hours for appointments, including some evening hours.

The new schedule for testing will be:

  • Mondays – Wednesdays from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Thursdays from 12-7 p.m.
  • Fridays from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Every 2nd and 4th Saturday from 8-11 a.m. (August 8 & 22)

All testing is by appointment only. Appointments can be scheduled online at covid19.dph.ga.gov or by phone at 1-912-230-9744. If you cannot make your appointment, please cancel the appointment so the slot will be available for someone else needing a test.

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 testing web page.

Beach Advisory Lifted for Polk Street Beach on Tybee Island

Update: July 29, 2020

The Chatham County Health Department has lifted the beach water advisory for Polk Street Beach on Tybee Island.

The advisory was issued on July 28, 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. Therefore, the advisory has been lifted.


July 28, 2020

The Chatham County Health Department has issued a beach water advisory for Polk Street Beach on Tybee Island. Polk Street Beach is located on the north side of Tybee Island, from the end of the beach to the jetty.

graphic showing the beach water advisory signsThe advisory is only for the area specified above and does not impact the other beach areas on the island. There is no way of knowing if going into water that is under advisory will result in illness. However, these beach water advisories are to alert the public of a possible risk of illness associated with water contact. An area under advisory does not mean the beach is closed.

Water samples are collected routinely on Tybee Island, and tested for enterococcus (pronounced: en·ter·o·coc·cus) bacteria which is found in warm blooded animals including humans but also birds, raccoons, deer, dolphins and other wildlife. It is difficult to determine exactly where the bacteria come from, but some sources could include animal waste, storm water runoff, or boating waste. When a beach is under advisory, it means that the level of bacteria found in the water is above the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended standards.

The Chatham County 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, and the advisory will be lifted when tests show the bacteria level meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended standards.

For more information, visit our Beach Water Testing Program page.