There have already been a number of positive COVID-19 cases as well as quarantines reported as local school systems began their first full week of school on Monday.
Three students and three employees at Floyd County Schools have active infections, the board of education heard Monday night.
Over the weekend, the school system sent out letters to some parents at Coosa High School, Coosa Middle School and Pepperell Primary, saying that students or staff members had been in contact with a person who tested positive.
Since the first day of school last Thursday there have been 107 students and employees quarantined at Coosa High, 73 at Coosa Middle and 23 at Pepperell Primary.
The Rome City school system logged 17 new COVID-19 cases Monday on its web page, with a total of 58 students and 28 staff members in quarantine.
Superintendent Lou Byars said no classes had been quarantined, but they expect to see it happen as the school year continues. The school system is working with the Department of Public Health to provide contact tracing.
“We didn’t have a lot of contacts,” Byars said. “A lot of (the people infected) had not been in the school.”
The majority of the new infections were at Rome High School. The previous spreadsheet, which covers the week of Saturday Aug. 8 through Friday Aug. 14, listed 18 notifications of COVID-19 cases. So far there have been infections reported in staff, faculty or students from West End, West Central, Anna K. Davie, East Central, Main, Rome Middle and Rome High School.
Another 54 Floyd County residents tested positive for the new coronavirus over the weekend and two more died. The Monday DPH report added 18 more cases.
As of Monday, the county has had a total of 1,823 COVID-19 cases, with 499 of them confirmed over the past two weeks. There have been 20 deaths.
Past the threshhold
The continued sharp rise in cases means Floyd County meets the threshold set by Gov. Brian Kemp Saturday for requiring face-coverings on government-owned property.
Kemp, who has opposed local mask mandates and even sued over one in Atlanta, signed a new executive order that includes the option to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
As with previous orders, it says residents and visitors of the state are “strongly encouraged” to wear face coverings when they are outside of their homes, except when eating, drinking or exercising outside.
But unlike previous orders, this one allows mask mandates by local governments in counties that have had 100 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people over the previous 14 days. Only two of Georgia’s 159 counties were below that threshold, according to data from the state Department of Public Health.
Local mask mandates cannot result in fines, fees or penalties against private businesses or organizations, and penalties against individuals for noncompliance cannot included a fine greater than $50 and cannot include prison time, the order says.
If people are not in compliance, local authorities must warn them about the health risks prior to issuing a citation.
Local mask requirements can’t be enforced on residential property and can only be enforced on private property, including businesses, if the owner or occupant consents to enforcement, the order says.
“This order also protects Georgia businesses from government overreach by restricting the application and enforcement of local masking requirements to public property,” Kemp said in a news release accompanying the order, which is in effect through Aug. 31. “While I support local control, it must be properly balanced with property rights and personal freedoms.”
Additionally, the order extends shelter-in-place requirements for people who meet certain criteria that result in “higher risk of severe illness,” including people in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, people with certain chronic health conditions and those with compromised immune systems or other underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to the coronavirus.
It also continues to ban gatherings larger than 50 people if people are closer than 6 feet apart and imposes specific operating guidelines on bars, restaurants and other businesses.