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School Nutrition workers are local superheroes for students

Superheroes can be found in every corner of life and they are showing up more than ever in daily life, and one group in particular is continuing their efforts to help ensure children who usually get meals at school are still getting them at home.

When Polk School District’s ten campuses abruptly closed school due to the COVID- 19 emergency, members of school nutrition staff immediately launched a plan to serve grab ‘n’ go breakfast and lunch to students.

The effort to ensure local youth are fed through the closure of schools soon saw the inclusion of Bus Drivers, Para Pros, Police Officers, Principals and Assistant Principals, who joined with administration to feed students through the end of the school year. Once the last day of school comes and goes on May 22, Superintendent Laurie Atkins said the district will then shift to their summer program offering students food.

Members of the school nutrition staff have already put in a lot of time in their kitchens to prepare meals ahead of time. From March 16 through April 27, School Nutrition Director Dr. Linda Holland reported that 131,118, meals were produced, bagged and distributed to the children of Polk County.

“I call my staff superheroes,” said Holland. “They are making every effort to ensure that meals get out with all safety measures in place. Every Polk School Nutrition staff have taken and most passed a written exam obtaining SERV SAFE certified, a National Restaurant food safety course. I told them just to do what they had been doing all along.”

Requirements that Holland said were added once the shutdowns began that are becoming common practice is the constant use of face masks and social distancing in the work environment.

Holland said her superheroes didn’t miss a step.

“Without being asked, Lisa Clements, Van Wert Elementary SNP Manager, made cloth face mask for all School Nutrition Workers,” Holland said. “She is currently making each a second mask for each of her teammates.”

Holland said the staff at each school continue to ask how they can serve students and make the situation better, and said she has seen time and again over the past weeks how they have “selflessly put children first.”

“They did not hesitate, they served. These superheroes know how many of our children depend on school meals daily to have nourishing, healthy food,” she said. “They have been there quietly working from day one providing seven days of meals in student’s homes.”

Holland also thanked those bus drivers and para pros have distributed these meals three times a week giving multiple days of meals each time a feeding site is open.

Along with continuing to serve children through the end of the academic year, the School Nutrition staff have another reason to celebrate. May 1 marks School Lunch Hero Day across the nation.

School Lunch Hero Day is a chance to showcase the difference school nutrition professionals make for every child who comes through the cafeteria. 2020 marked the eighth year it has been celebrated nationally.

Sheriff’s deputies deliver food to the ill and elderly

With the local courts functioning on a virtual basis and service of warrants largely on pause, Floyd County deputies have turned a lot of their attention to finding other ways to serve the community. And they’ve gotten a helping hand in their work on a local basis too.

Sheriff Tim Burkhalter asked Chaplain Dave Thornton to take a lead role in organizing food deliveries to the medically infirm and elderly residents across Rome and Floyd County. Here in Polk County, Sheriff Johnny Moats and Chief Deputy Jonathan Blackmon have been hard at work ensuring that several families can benefit from food deliveries locally too.

“Our guys are all involved in wanting to do more,” Burkhalter said.

His staff got the delivery of prescription medications to senior residents down to a science so he started looking for other ways to help.

“You know senior citizens are not supposed to get out, so we’re getting involved in more and more things,” said Burkhalter.

Deputies have also taken on the delivery of food and other necessities to cancer patients served through the Cancer Navigators program.

Dawn Hayes, at the Bagwell Food Pantry on East 19th Street, said the work of the deputies has been a tremendous help. The pantry typically distributes close to 10,000 pounds of food a week to needy residents. Since the COVID-19 crisis evolved locally, it has been doling out nearly double that amount, between 18,000 and 20,000 pounds a week.

Hayes said all of the local grocers — Kroger, Publix, Food Lion, Walmart and others — have really stepped up with donations to the pantry over the last six weeks. Walmart also donated all of their leftover Easter specials and Rome Cinemas donated all of their candy for distribution.

“We had to have a pickup truck,” Thornton said. “We had 16 cases of candy and stuff.”

All of the sugary items were distributed to families of law enforcement and emergency response personnel across the community.

Hayes said the deputies have been a huge help to the agency because many of the elderly have been told not to get out to begin with, and in other circumstances they would get rides from neighbors.

“They can’t really do that either,” Hayes said. “It makes the folks feel safe when they see the sheriff’s car come up. It’s not somebody they don’t know coming up and knocking on their front door.”

Each family generally receives between 65 and 70 pounds of food in a box when they come to the pantry.

The deputies also distributed food to 76 children served by the local Backpack Buddies program Thursday. Thornton said an individual donated $5,000 to buy food cards so he purchased Chick-fil-A gift cards and each of the 76 youngsters also got one along with their food.

At the end of the day Thursday, the deputies had delivered boxes of food to more than 90 homes.

Because the Cancer Navigators program serves communities around the Rome area, Thornton said the deputies met other deputies from adjacent counties and transferred the food for distribution in Gordon, Chattooga and Polk counties.

Here in Polk County, some seven families have so far received assistance through that program. Additionally, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office is working with Victory Baptist Church’s Food Pantry to deliver food to people in need in the community.

Those interested in the help can contact the Sheriff’s Office at 770-749-2901 for assistance in receiving items from Victory Baptist.

Blackmon reported that five families have been helped so far thanks to the program, which is provided in part from donations made by an Atlanta-area food bank and from local donations within Victory Baptist.

Kemp ends shelter-in-place except for Georgians most at risk

Gov. Brian Kemp released most Georgians from the state’s shelter-in-place order after Thursday night, April 30, except for people ages 65 and older, seniors living in long-term care facilities and persons with certain chronic health issues, the governor announced that afternoon.

Older persons and the chronically ill, who health officials have stressed are most at risk for harmful effects from coronavirus, must remain sheltered-in-place through June 12.

Also this past Thursday, Kemp outlined a series of social-distancing restrictions that Georgia businesses will need to continue following in the coming weeks, depending on the type of business. As it stands, those restrictions are poised to be lifted on 11:59 p.m. May 13.

Strict distancing rules limiting the number of customers and requiring vigorous sanitizing measures will remain in effect through May 13 for dine-in restaurants, gyms, barbershops and many other close-quarter establishments that were allowed to reopen as of Monday.

Bars, nightclubs, swimming pools and amusement parks will have to remain closed through May 13, after which they may also reopen unless Kemp moves to extend closure orders.

Georgians with chronic health conditions that the governor’s office listed are subject to the June 12 shelter-in-place order include those with chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, severe heart disease, immunocompromised conditions, class III or severe obesity, and patients with diabetes, liver disease or chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis.

For many Georgia residents and businesses, Kemp’s move looks to pare back a host of mandatory closures and restrictions on physical interactions that many health experts have credited with slowing the spread of coronavirus, but which have also prompted severely negative consequences for the state’s economy.

In a video last week, the governor reiterated he is basing the decision to lift most restrictions on encouraging data trends that show declining coronavirus transmission rates as well as efforts in recent weeks to ready hundreds of hospital beds for use during patient surge periods.

“The health and well-being of Georgians are my top priorities, and my decisions are based on data and advice from health officials,” Kemp said. “I will do what is necessary to protect the lives and livelihoods of our people.”

At a news conference early last week before the order was set to expire, the governor said the state largely has been following federal guidelines for deciding when to let businesses reopen. He also weighed input from local health officials and the dire financial situation facing many business owners who have been shuttered for weeks.

Hundreds of thousands of Georgians have been out of work since March with nearly 1.4 million workers and their employers having filed unemployment claims as of last week, the state Department of Labor reported on April 30. The state budget is expected to be billions of dollars in the hole due to a steep drop in recent tax revenues.

On Monday, April 27, the state’s public health commissioner, Dr. Kathleen Toomey, said Georgia is on track to see a “plateauing” of positive COVID-19 cases, even though the state had not met all the federal guidelines for allowing businesses to reopen. She noted cases of reported flu-like illnesses as well as hospitalizations have been declining and that positive cases have fallen “as a percentage of total tests.”

“We will continue to closely monitor the data to ensure these encouraging patterns we are seeing continue to improve,” Toomey said in a video Monday night, April 27.

Many local health experts have shown skepticism toward relying on models published and updated daily on the state Department of Public Health’s website. They have pointed to other models and studies, some compiled by local university researchers, that indicate Georgia could see a flare-up in coronavirus outbreaks if social restrictions are lifted sooner rather than later.

One study, released this week, April 26 through May 2, by the University of Georgia’s Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases, estimated that relaxing the social distancing measures in place since March could cause an additional 1,500 deaths from coronavirus in Georgia, plus tens of thousands more cases.

Another modeling tool, created by researchers at Georgia Tech and Harvard Medical School, predicts a second wave of COVID-19 cases and deaths could soon hit Georgia if social restrictions are loosened.

Meanwhile, Georgia Democratic leaders and lawmakers blasted Kemp on social media and in news releases Thursday afternoon, April 30. Sen. Nikema Williams, who chairs the Democratic Party of Georgia, accused the governor of “playing a dangerous game” with his decision.

“It is reckless and irresponsible for Kemp to use Georgians as the guinea pigs in a public health experiment that will go wrong,” said Williams, D-Atlanta. “Today’s decision will have consequences — for our overworked health systems, for our struggling essential workers, and for our lives.”

Georgia unemployment claims nearing 1.4M since shelter in place orders issued

ATLANTA — More than 266,000 Georgians filed initial unemployment claims last week, up about 19,000 from the previous week, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

That brings to nearly 1.4 million the number of claims the labor agency has processed during the six weeks since schools and businesses began shutting down prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The industry sector in Georgia by far the hardest hit by job losses is accommodations and food services, with 396,209 initial unemployment claims during the past six weeks. Health care and social assistance is next with 157,496 claims, followed closely by retail trade with 156,123.

Workers in administrative and support services have filed 109,483 unemployment claims during the past six weeks, while 105,122 claims have come from those in manufacturing.

“The accommodation and food service sector has truly suffered during this pandemic,” Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said Thursday. “We hope that employers and employees can work together to find a return-to-work plan that can work for both parties allowing for continued financial support from state and federal programs as we gradually reopen Georgia for business.”

Employers and their employees have worked together closely when it comes to filing claims. About 75% of the initial unemployment claims during the past six weeks have been filed by employers on behalf of their workers.

The labor department paid out more than $155 million in unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total for the past six weeks to $388 million. That’s more than the annual total for each of the past four years.

“Our employees are managing unprecedented numbers of claims and are getting people paid,” Butler said.

Many of the remaining unpaid claims are awaiting eligibility determination. Delays have occurred in cases where duplicate claims have been filed, identification has been requested, excessive weekly earnings have been reported or child support stops have been issued.

Butler said Georgians whose claims are ruled invalid still might be eligible for federal unemployment assistance. Groups eligible for the federal program include the self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, employees of churches or other nonprofits or those with limited work history.

The Georgia Department of Labor has issued more than $700 million in federal funds during the past six weeks, including more than $336 million last week alone.

Meanwhile, the agency is continuing to post job opportunities. More than 106,000 jobs are listed online at www.EmployGeorgia.com.

Chamber COVID-19 Resource Guide

Editor’s note: The following partial resource guide was made available to the Standard Journal courtesy of the Polk County Chamber of Commerce. We thank Executive Director Blair Elrod for compiling this useful information. Find the full online version of this resource guide at polkgeorgia.com or the Chamber’s Facebook page. — KM

Georgia DPH Recommendations and Guidelines

There are some common-sense measures everyone can take to protect themselves and others from the spread of respiratory illnesses including coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

♦ Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.

♦ Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

♦ Avoid close contact with people who are ill.

♦ Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

♦ Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

♦ Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.

It is also good practice to start being more aware of the number of times a day your hands touch an object or hard surface and then touch your face without being washed. Limiting the exposure of your nose, mouth, and eyes to unwashed hands can help to protect from the spread of all germs and illnesses.

It is not recommended that people wear masks if they are well or stockpile them. Masks should be worn by people who are sick to prevent the spread of infection.

DPH has also provided guidance on considerations of people with disabilities and other access and functional needs for COVID-19.

People at higher risk for severe illness

Older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease and those with weakened immune systems seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. Early data suggest older people are twice as likely to have serious COVID-19 illness. Learn more.

Pregnant women and children

Some pregnant women may be more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19. There is no evidence that children are more susceptible to COVID-19. The CDC has information specifically for pregnant women and children.

People who have recently traveled outside the US

If you have recently traveled to any country with a Level 2 or Level 3 Travel Health Notice for COVID-19 and are experiencing fever and respiratory symptoms, you should call your doctor or health department and describe your symptoms and where you traveled.

People who think they’ve been exposed to COVID-19

If you think you may have been exposed to the COVID-19 and develop symptoms, you may need to seek medical attention. Learn more about exposure and symptoms.

Household preparedness

The CDC recommends households have a plan of action to prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak. People should think about having daily necessities and medications to last about two weeks, in case they need to isolate. Massive stock piling of supplies is not necessary.

Individuals and families should have a plan in case they need to miss work due to illness or need to care for a sick family member. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also released a list of cleaning products to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Watch for symptoms

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure (based on the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses).

♦ Fever

♦ Cough

♦ Shortness of breath

New symptoms were included in recent weeks, and are:

♦ Chills

♦ Repeated shaking with chills

♦ muscle pain

♦ headache

♦ sore throat

♦ new loss of taste or smell

When to Seek Medical Attention

♦ If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:

♦ Trouble breathing

♦ Persistent pain or pressure in the chest

♦ New confusion or inability to arouse

♦ Bluish lips or face

♦ This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

Online faith services

Here’s a list of the churches that are currently providing their services online, and where to find them. Have we missed one? Email kmyrick@polkstandardjournal.net to let us know.

Pleasant Hope Baptist Church — https://www.facebook.com/PleasantHopeSilverCreek/

Restoration Church Cedartown — https://www.facebook.com/Restoration-Church-Cedartown-473806403441541/

North Church — https://www.facebook.com/gonorthchurch/

101 Church — https://www.facebook.com/101church/

Antioch Baptist — https://www.facebook.com/antiochcedartown/

First Baptist Rockmart — https://www.facebook.com/FirstBaptistRockmart/

Second Baptist of Cedartown — https://www.facebook.com/sbcedartown

First Baptist Cedartown — https://www.facebook.com/firstbaptistcedartown/

Rockmart First United Methodist — https://www.facebook.com/RockmartFUMC/

St. Bernadette’s Catholic Church — https://www.facebook.com/StBernadette04/

Cedartown First United Methodist — https://www.facebook.com/CedartownFirstUnitedMethodistChurch/

New Prospect Baptist — https://www.facebook.com/newprospectrockmart/

Bellview Baptist — https://www.facebook.com/bellviewbaptist

Victory Baptist — https://www.facebook.com/victorybaptistchurchrockmart/

Crossview Church — https://www.facebook.com/crossview.church.3/?hc_location=ufi

Cross Factor Church — https://www.facebook.com/CrossFactorChurch/

New Beginnings Apostolic — https://www.facebook.com/nbapostolic/

The Church of God of Union Assemby Polk — https://m.facebook.com/TheChurchOfGodOfTheUnionAssemblyPolk

Spring Creek Rome — https://www.springcreekrome.com/

Ware’s Grove Baptist — https://www.facebook.com/Wares-Grove-Baptist-Church-354837571677582/

Anna Kresge United Methodist Church — https://www.facebook.com/KresgeUMC/

Harmony Baptist Church — https://www.facebook.com/Harmony-Baptist-Church-Cedartown-GA-1399735593436496/

Cedar Lake Christian Center — https://www.facebook.com/clccnet.org/

Shiloh Baptist Church — https://www.facebook.com/shiloh.baptist.777

Aragon Baptist Church — https://www.facebook.com/aragonbaptist.church.1

Restaurant offering delivery or takeout

Here’s a list of restaurants compiled by the Chamber currently doing delivery or takeout as of Saturday, April 4. Have we missed one? Email kmyrick@polkstandardjournal.net to let us know.

Pizza Depot — 406 N. Piedmont Ave., Rockmart — to-go, delivery and drive-thru service — 770-684-3595

Johnny’s Pizza — 1735 Nathan Dean Bypass, Rockmart — offering to-go and delivery — 770-684-7700

Ideal Bakery — 509 S. Main St., Cedartown — offering to-go and curbside — 770-748-3016

Sidekicks BBQ & Steaks — Offering to-go and drive-thru — 770-684-7086

Arby’s — 1301 Nathan Dean Pkwy., Rockmart — Drive thru service open — 678-757-9589.

El Nopal Rockmart — 1422 Chattahoochee Drive, Rockmart — offering to-go and curbside — 770-684-0224

Krystal’s — 623 N. Main St., Cedartown — Drive thru open — 770-748-5703

McDonald’s in both Cedartown and Rockmart — Drive thru open

Taco Bell in Cedartown and Rockmart — Drive thru open (In Cedartown, limited Dine-in Service available)

El Nopal Cedartown — 1494 Rome Highway, Cedartown — to-go and curbside — 770-748-7073

Timbo’s — 1063 Nathan Dean Bypass, Rockmart — offering to-go service — 678-685-4476

R & R Catering — 1194 East Ave., Cedartown — 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday — Delivery fees are waived and a menu can be found here: https://www.randrcateringevents.com/our-story — 706-676-8707

The Steak House — 414 Baldwin Road, Rockmart — offering to-go service — 770-684-0401

The Border — 718 N. Main St., Cedartown — offering to-go and drive thru — 678-246-1031

Tequila — 1703 Nathan Dean Bypass, Rockmart — offering to-go service — 770-684-4454

Chick-fil-A Rockmart — 1500 Chattahoochee Drive, Rockmart — drive thru open — 470-632-0411

Chick N Scratch Bakery — 103 S. Marble St., Rockmart — offering to go service — 678-685-4476

Kizuna Hibachi — 1579 Rome Highway, Cedartown — Offering to go service — 678-901-1388.

Lively’s BBQ and Breakfast — 1207 S. Main St., Cedartown — drive-thru service only — 770-748-1130

Hometown Pizza and Grill — 246 W. Elm St., Rockmart — offering to go and delivery service — 770-684-8688

Linda’s Place — 480 Nathan Dean Bypass, Rockmart — to go, curbside and delivery — 770-684-3467

Jefferson’s of Cedartown — 901 N. Main St., Cedartown — to go only, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. — Call 770-748-4777 for more information. (As of beginning of May offering limited dine-in service.)

Zaxby’s of Cedartown and Rockmart — drive thru only

Burger King of Cedartown — drive thru only

Dairy Queen of Cedartown and Rockmart — drive thru only

Captain D’s of Cedartown and Rockmart — drive thru only

Checkers of Cedartown — drive thru still available

{div}Taqueria Michoana = 511 West Ave., Cedartown — offering to-go — call 770-748-5858

Local businesses offering online shopping options

Here’s a list of local businesses provided by the Chamber that are offering online shopping opportunities, and the links to find them. Have a business to share? Email kmyrick@polkstandardjournal.net to share.

The Perch on Marble — 116 N. Marble St., Rockmart — http://www.theperchonmarble.com/ — online store with a variety of items from fashion to home and garden accessories.

The Brave Sparrow — 557A N. Main St., Cedartown — https://www.facebook.com/thebravesparrow66/ — photos of inventory online, can also call 678-901-1133

Jasper and Jade Boutique — 835 Cherokee Circle, Cedartown — https://jasperandjade.commentsold.com/ — Login with Facebook or Instagram to shop

Now and Then — 106 E. Church St., Rockmart — https://www.facebook.com/nowandthenofrockmart/?hc_location=ufi — Variety of items available, including some for Easter!

Remix at Moore’s — Variety of items being prepackaged and can be picked up at https://www.facebook.com/mooresremix/.

Berkleigh Mae’s Boutique — near the corner of Elm and Marble St., Rockmart — https://berkleighmaesboutique.com/ Infant, baby and children’s clothing and accessories , plus items for mom’s and dad’s

The Clay Birch — 1075 Nathan Dean Bypass, Rockmart — https://theclaybirch.com/ — fashion, jewelry and accessories

Rockin’ Rooster and Happy Hen — 401 N. Piedmont Ave., Rockmart — https://www.facebook.com/rockinroosterhappyhen/ antiques, collectibles, and more

White Tulip Market — 210 S. Marble St., Rockmart — https://www.whitetulipmarket.com/ — fashion, jewelry, accessories, soaps and candles, home decor

Holmes Clothing Company — 235 Main St., Cedartown — https://www.facebook.com/HolmesClothingCo/ — photos of inventory online, but offering appointments for customers.

COVID-19 disinfection services

Enterprise Pest Management — 678-901-3525

Hull’s Environmental Services — 678-909-5282

Certi-Clean — Call Jody Guice at 770-546-5322

Think we’ve missed something we should include? Email kmyrick@polkstandardjournal.net to tell us.