A flurry of state and local government actions this week is rapidly changing how most people live and interact.
As of March 24, there have been 32 COVID deaths in the state, including one in Gwinnett County. There have been 1,026 confirmed cases in the state with 45 in Gwinnett, 14 in Hall, 16 in Clarke, one in Madison and one in Barrow. No cases have been reported in Jackson County as of Tuesday night. (Check our website for daily updates.)
Here's a roundup of recent events related to the ongoing virus crisis:
• Jackson County EMA director Bryan Bullock said the county received a shipment of much-needed medical supplies on Monday. The county received nearly 2,000 M-95 medical masks. "We are in the process of getting these to our fire/rescue departments, sheriff's office and police departments," he said. "We also gave some to the Jackson County Correctional Institute facility." The county is expecting to get additional medical supplies from the national stockpile as well.
• The City of Jefferson issued an emergency declaration March 23 to close dine-in restaurants and bars and to ban gatherings of 10 or more people. The move goes further than a similar declaration made by Gov. Brian Kemp the same day. (See story inside this issue.) Jefferson also cancelled its Easter Egg hunt slated for April 11.
• The City of Commerce was set to consider an emergency declaration on March 24, past our print deadline (see our website for update.) The state municipal association is encouraging all Georgia towns to make an emergency declaration to limit public interactions.
• The City of Arcade has set a called meeting for its council for Wednesday, March 25, at 4 p.m. to consider an emergency declaration. The meeting will likely be by teleconference.
• The Jackson County Tax Commissioner's office will only process essential services in person; all other transactions are to be done online.
• Several local towns have scaled back in-person operations or closed their city halls. Arcade has closed its city hall and police department to the public. Those needing assistance can call 706-367-5500 at the city hall or 706-367-1821 for the police department.
• Local school systems continue with "distance learning" plans and are delivering food to students at a number of locations around the county. The Jackson County School System will continue distance learning through April 3, then stop for spring break. The system plans to reopen its schools April 13, but that is subject to change.
Three large Jefferson-Pendergrass area businesses closed for part of last week due to situations surrounding the Coronavirus.
• Kubota closed its Jefferson plant until March 23, after an employee left work sick last Monday and later went to Northeast Georgia Medical Center for treatment. The family notified Kubota that he had tested positive for COVID-19, according to a county report. The plant was subsequently closed in response.
• Home Goods distribution center in Jefferson has closed for two weeks, but there have not been any reported cases of COVID in the facility.
• TACG in Pendergrass was reportedly closed until March 23, after an employee showed signs of Cornonavirus. The closure was done as a precaution and to do cleaning, according to Jackson County EMA officials. An internal email from the company had circulated widely on social media.
Round-up of state actions related to COVID this week:
• Gov. Kemp ordered restaurants, bars and nightclubs to close (except for drive-thru or pick-up service) and to ban all gatherings of 10 or more people, unless those gatherings ensure people stay six feet apart. Some local communities have enacted stricter rules. Athens-Clarke and Winder have enacted curfews.
• The state has changed its procedures for getting tested for COVID at its 23 locations in the state. Option one is to have a referral from a doctor; option two is the call the Nurse Referral Line at 706-340-0996 and describe your symptoms and ask for a referral.
• The state will no longer renew drivers licenses in person. All valid GA driver’s licenses and ID cards with an expiration date between now and June 30, 2020, will receive an extension by a period of 60 days.
• Absentee ballot request forms will be mailed to every voter in the state for the May elections. The March elections have been moved and combined with the May voting.