Calhoun Times

Georgia reaches 25,000 deaths

- By Cat Webb CWebb@CalhounTim­

While COVID rates continue to trend downwards, Georgia has seen a grim milestone.

As of Nov. 5, the Georgia Department of Health’s online COVID-19 status report stated that the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the state of Georgia had surpassed 25,000. Over 4,000 more deaths are listed as probably-related to COVID-19.

Updated case numbers for Gordon County and statewide for the week ending in Monday, Nov. 8 were not published as of the print deadline for the Wednesday edition of the Calhoun Times due to an error processing electronic lab results. Overall, the state had reached 1,268,462 total confirmed cases as of the Nov. 5 update.

According to a Nov. 2 report by Gordon County Administra­tor Jim Ledbetter, this is part of a continued downward trend in COVID-19 cases. His report detailed falling case counts since Oct. 4.

Monday, Oct. 4 saw 8,485 total cases and 160 deaths (up 251 cases and 13 deaths over 14 days). Oct. 18 saw a total of 8,627 cases and 168 deaths (up 142 cases and

8 deaths over 14 days). Nov. 1 saw 8,701 cases and 172 deaths total (up 74 cases and 4 deaths over 14 days).

School counts remain low in both local school systems as they finish out the first week of November.

As of Nov. 5, Gordon County Schools reported five cases in students and three cases in staff. Calhoun City Schools reported one case in students and no cases in staff.

OSHA guidelines regarding vaccinatio­n were finally released as of Nov. 4. The guidelines, which were announced by President Biden back in September, means that companies which employ 100 or more employees must either mandate vaccines for their employees or develop a plan including weekly testing for unvaccinat­ed workers.

“COVID-19 has had a devastatin­g impact on workers, and we continue to see dangerous levels of cases,” said U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. “We must take action to implement this emergency temporary standard to contain the virus and protect people in the workplace against the grave danger of COVID-19. Many businesses understand the benefits of having their workers vaccinated against COVID-19, and we expect many will be pleased to see this OSHA rule go into effect.”

Under the rule, employers are not on the hook to pay for testing or for face coverings. They are, however, required to keep records of vaccinatio­n status, ensure unvaccinat­ed employees are regularly tested and masked when in close contact with other workers,

and remove COVID-19 positive workers from the workplace until they are recovered.

“While vaccinatio­n remains the most effective and efficient defense against COVID-19, this emergency temporary standard will protect all workers, including those who remain unvaccinat­ed, by requiring regular testing and the use of face coverings by unvaccinat­ed workers to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupation­al Safety and Health Jim Frederick. “As part of OSHA’s mission to protect the safety and health of workers, this rule will provide a roadmap to help businesses keep their workers safe.”

According to the press release that the U.S. Department of Labor released alongside these requiremen­ts, the emergency temporary standard (ETS) is expected to cover approximat­ely two-thirds of the American workforce. The release also predicted that the rule could save thousands of lives and prevent up to a quarter of a million hospitaliz­ations.

At home in Georgia, there has already been pushback from state officials regarding the vaccine mandate.

“In addition to vilifying Americans for their personal choices, Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates are unlawful and a recipe for economic disaster,” said Governor Kemp. “With inflation skyrocketi­ng, the supply chain screeching to a halt, and job creators across the country desperatel­y searching for more workers, Biden is pouring gasoline on a fire. This federal government power-grab defies reason, and Attorney General Carr and I will not allow this administra­tion to force hardworkin­g Georgians to choose

between their livelihood­s and this vaccine.”

Attorney General Carr also chimed in regarding the lawsuit that Georgia will be filing against the Biden Administra­tion.

“This unlawful mandate is yet another example of the Biden administra­tion’s complete disregard for the Constituti­onal rights afforded to our state and our citizens,” said Attorney General Carr. “The federal government has no authority to force healthcare decisions on Georgia’s companies and its employees under the guise of workplace safety. We are fighting back against this unpreceden­ted abuse of power to stop this mandate before it causes irreparabl­e harm to our state and its economy.”

At the same time, the Gordon County Health Department has moved to stay in line with CDC recommenda­tions. Pfizer vaccines are now available for everyone five years of age and older, while Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines remain available for those 18 and older.

To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine or booster appointmen­t, log on to dph.georgia. gov/covid-vaccine or call 888457-0186 for the Health Department Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line. The Gordon County Health Department, 310 N. River Street, Calhoun, is now offering flu shots on a walk-in basis.

Anyone experienci­ng COVID-19 symptoms, or those who have been in close contact with an individual with COVID-19, should be tested regardless of vaccinatio­n status. At DPH/Mako Medical test sites, testing is free of charge.

To find a COVID-19 test site, log on to­ng.

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