The Calhoun Gordon County COVID-19 Task Force met this week as the number of local confirmed cases rose dramatically and two new local deaths were reported.

“We knew that numbers would increase when business and industry started opening up. The Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends saw many gatherings across the community which could’ve also contributed to some spread of the virus. Much of this increase is due to increased testing in our community as well as persons testing multiple times with positive results,” said County Administrator Jim Ledbetter.

The Georgia Department of Public Health, in their 3 p.m. daily report Thursday, updated Gordon County’s numbers to 958 total cases, 63 hospitalizations and 23 deaths. Two of those deaths were reported Tuesday.

Of those numbers, 109 cases, 12 hospitalizations, and three deaths occurred within the previous week.

Within the past two weeks, Gordon has added 331 new cases, 15 hospitalizations and five deaths.

AdventHealth Gordon officials reminded the task force members this week that the hospital and intensive care unit is built to support the needs of the community. At this time approximately 20% of all patients admitted to the hospital are due to COVID-related illnesses, but not all of those are Gordon County residents.

“As of July 28, 16 persons are hospitalized with COVID-19, and this number has not risen above 21 at any given time,” said Garrett Nudd, director of marketing and communications for the hospital, adding that the number of patients can fluctuate multiple times a day as patients are discharged and new patients are admitted. “We are confident in our ability to care for the needs of our community and are appreciative of the local task force and our community partners.”

School leaders expressed their gratitude for the COVID Task Force and community partners who have donated supplies and assisted with reopening efforts, and City Administrator Paul Worley encouraged students and educators to follow guidelines as schools reopen.

“As schools prepare to reopen, it is important to reinforce the CDC guidance and to encourage all of our community members to be diligent in their efforts to wash hands frequently, cover coughs, social distance and wear a mask. The Governor has made it clear that he feels that we do not need a mandate to do the right thing. As responsible citizens and leaders in our community, we agree. We need to hold each other accountable to do the right thing and wear a mask when it is not feasible to social distance and we also need to continue these best practices at home,” Worley said.

The local task force will meet again on Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 9 a.m. Free COVID-19 testing is available at the Gordon County Health Department, 310 N. River St. in Calhoun, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until noon. No appointment is needed for testing and patients will remain in their vehicles to be tested.

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