May 3 Update: 882,074 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia and 974,319 in NC

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NORTH GEORGIA & WESTERN N.C. – In an effort to keep our readers, up to date with the latest number of cases confirmed in Georgia and N.C., Fetch Your News will continually be updating this article with the most recent updates from the Georgia Department of Health (DPH) and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).

Updated May 3, 2021 at 8:15 p.m.

Georgia Data

On May 3, 2021, DPH reported 15 new deaths, 32 new hospitalizations, and 579 new confirmed cases. 

DPH confirmed 882,074 cases, 61,702 hospitalized, 10,110 patients in ICU, and 17,593 deaths. The 3 p.m. reported 8,384,277 tests have been completed. Total tests included 515,601 serology (antibody) tests. DPH added a column to the county-by-county tally to include the location of deceased patients from COVID-19. On March 28, the health department also included a breakdown of deaths by county, age, and sex, new deaths.

On April 12, 2020, the report started including non-residents receiving treatment as a separate line item. It made a significant dent into the “Unknown” category.

DPH told Fetch Your News that the “Unknown” number is a result of “clerical errors on the part of the reporting agency – nothing more. We have many new labs reporting, and they are not all as familiar with the system.” The department is working to resolve this issue when the staff has time. A few of the unknowns are also homeless.

On April 8, DPH Commissioner Kathleen Toomey affirmed that the department has the most accurate data, but it’s not real-time data due to backlogs. DPH can’t keep up with press releases from hospitals about new cases because of the delay in processing. Cases confirmed one week might not appear in the reports until the next. Fetch Your News will only report on local cases once, they are confirmed by the DPH or CDC.

In his March 23 press conference, Gov. Kemp mentioned the casualties from the virus, “I am saddened to announce that we have lost twenty-five Georgians to COVID-19. As we mourn, I ask my fellow Georgians to lift up their loved ones in prayer. Please keep them in your hearts and minds.”

DPH released details on the two March 18 deaths, stating the individuals were 42-year-old and 68-year-old women both in an Albany Hospital. They also had underlying conditions along with COVID-19. Please keep all these individuals and families in your thoughts and prayers.

Case location is “based on patient county of residence when known.”

“A confirmed case is defined as a person who has tested positive for 2019 novel coronavirus.” – DPH.

Georgia County – Number of Confirmed Cases and Deaths

County Confirmed Cases Confirmed Cases per 100K Antigen Positive Cases Confirmed Deaths Probable Deaths Hospitalizations
To see a breakdown of the COVID-19 deaths in Georgia, click here.

NC Confirmed Cases Data

As of May 3, 2021, NCDHHS reported 974,319 cases statewide, 938,740 presumed recovered, 12,691 deaths, and 1,007 hospitalized. The highest concentration is now in Mecklenburg with 110,561 cases and 941 deaths. Cherokee County had the highest 14-day case increase per 100,000 residents. NCDHHS reported 12,504,937 tests have been completed in the state. The confirmed cases report is released each day at 12 a.m.

NC Statistics

NCDHHS has an interactive map for those who want to see the spread of the virus. 

DPH, NCDHHS, and the CDC are urging people to practice social distancing to slow the spread of the virus. If our readers are looking for more information on health practices, please visit the CDC website.

President Trump also released guidelines for the next 15 days, which can be read about here.

Georgian’s wondering about Gov. Brian Kemp’s actions and the state’s public health emergency, find out more here.

North Carolinian’s can find updates for Gov. Roy Cooper, here.

Ask The Doc! Breast Implant Lymphoma and Throat Cancer

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This morning, the doctors discuss Breast Implant Lymphoma. How common is it? Did the Surgeon make a mistake? The Doctors also touch on Throat Cancer of the Epiglottis. Is the treatment plan correct? The doctors also discuss Covid-19 and the vaccine. What’s True And What’s False? Which of the Vaccines is the most effective?


Ask The Doc! Types Of Breast Cancer And The Flu Season

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This week, the doctors discuss the different types of breast cancer. They also touch on a question from a viewer regarding the treatment of their husband’s heart tumors. Is he getting the right treatment? What happened to Flu Season? What’s the latest on Covid-19? All this and more on Ask The Doc!


Ask The Doc: Long Term Effects of Surviving Cancer

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This week, Dr. Whaley and Dr. Raymond Tidman discuss some questions sent in by viewers. They touch on the long term effects of Cancer and some possible complications of surviving cancer. They also discuss how to know when you’re cured of cancer. Is there anyway to prevent future complications for cancer survivors? The doctors also discuss the current numbers of cancer survivors compared to in the past.


Positive news concerning COVID-19 in Fannin

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COVID-19 positive

BLUE RIDGE, Ga: The status of COVID-19 in Fannin appears to be trending in the right direction as positive cases begin to drop and vaccine providers become more readily available.

According to EMA Director Robert Graham, 11 percent of tests are coming back positive, but the health department is no longer giving COVID-19 tests. As a result, the capacity for administering tests might have decreased. The state still considers Fannin to be a high transmission county.

The health department transitioned to providing vaccines and partnered with the Kiwanis Club to use their fairgrounds as a vaccine location. Five days a week, the health department takes scheduled COVID-19 vaccine appointments at the fairgrounds. However, no one can currently sign up for a vaccine reservation because the health department’s waiting on more vaccines.

Vaccine availability depends on national supply. North Georgia Health Department spokesperson stated “We urge residents who are eligible for the vaccine but have not yet registered for an appointment to monitor our website and social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates as additional appointment times become available. All existing appointments are still valid.

“Definitely want to thank the Kiwanis Club for working with us. I think it’s a testament to our community that we were able to reach out to someone like that, and they were more than gracious to help us out. We needed a large facility like that,” Chairman Jamie Hensley stated.

On Tuesday, February 9, Fannin had a total of 18,062 cases, with 133 confirmed over the last 14 days. The COVID-19 variant hasn’t reached the county yet. Health officials claimed the current vaccine protects against the variant as well.

At the Fannin Regional Hospital, 15 percent of total visits are COVID-19 related. ICU capacity is between 80 to 100 percent with extended stays in the unit. The hospital’s experiencing 70 percent capacity on the medical-surgical wing, but bed availability increased over the last 24 hours. On any given day, the pending positive cases for COVID-19 range from 30 percent to 80 percent.

On Tuesday, Fannin Regional issued 404 COVID-19 vaccines.

The state granted Fannin Fire and EMS vaccine provider status, and they’ve administered 522 doses with 600 doses order. However, half of the ordered amount will serve as second vaccinations.

“Whether we get it or not, I don’t know or how long it will be before we get it, but hopefully, we’ll get some of it coming in next week,” Graham said.

Fannin EMS’s list of individuals requesting the vaccine exceeds 270 as of Tuesday. More people call in each day.

Currently, only Phase1A+ Georgians can receive the vaccine, so people who are 65 and older, a caregiver of a senior citizen, healthcare workers, law enforcement, public safety, and first responders.

Once the state opens vaccine distribution to educators, Fannin EMS and schools have created a plan to vaccinate the district’s employees at the schools. To lighten the health department’s load, they’ve offered to vaccinate utility companies like Tri-State Electric.

Georgia’s setting up some mass vaccination sites around the state, but not close to Fannin for the moment, Graham added.

No one in the fire department, EMS, or 911 is currently COVID-19 positive. Graham believes it showcases the care his employees are taking with their health and others.

Georgia Mountains Health Services also offers the vaccine to patients who make an appointment.


Blue Ridge Police Chief Johnny Scearce comes home

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Blue Ridge, Ga – Blue Ridge Police Chief officially came home on Tuesday, February 3, 2021, after his release from the hospital in January 2021.

Scearce, who’s also the Post One-elect for Fannin County, spent 94 days in the CHI Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, Tenn. battling COVID-19 and related health conditions, including a collapsed lung and MRSA. Before contract COVID-19, he didn’t have any pre-existing conditions. The hospital released a video of Scearce’s honor walk upon being discharged. Nurses and doctors lined the halls to cheer him on. 

He began therapy after leaving the hospital after spending four months either in a wheelchair or hospital bed. His rehab discharge date was February 3.

Individuals brought black and blue balloons in honor of Scearce. The balloons also represent law enforcement.

People turned out along 515 to support Scearce’s ride home. He received a police escort. The Blue Ridge and Fannin County community have stayed vigilant with their prayers for the police chief’s health. Prayer vigils and fundraisers were held for Scearce’s wellbeing.

The neighborhood took to social media to share in the joy of Scearce returning home. Speaker of the Georgia House and Fannin Representative David Ralston even commented about the event.

 “Many prayers were answered today when City of Blue Ridge Police Department Chief Johnny Scearce came home. Chief Scearce’s battle with complications from the Covid-19 virus has been long and challenging. Through it all, he has fought bravely — as we would have expected. Our City of Blue Ridge, Georgia community, has demonstrated again its goodness with an outpouring of prayers and support for Johnny, Brenda, and the entire family. Chief, we are all happy beyond words today. Welcome home!”

Scearce’s still on the road to recovery, but returning home will indeed prove to be a great motivation and healer for him. Those interested in helping the Scearce family cover medical expenses can donate to an established GoFundMe.

Clay County Schools going remote until February 7

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Today, Clay County Schools, working in partnership with the Clay County Health Department, identified several positive cases of COVID-19 amongst our staff and students. After completing some initial contact tracing, it was clear that the number of staff that would be required to quarantine due to contact with a positive, or due to their own children having contact with a positive, was going to go beyond the number of substitute teachers available to cover classes. If we do not have enough adults to supervise our classes, we cannot safely have face to face school.
As a result, Clay County Schools will be moving to remote only for all schools beginning Tuesday, January 26 through February 7th. Face to face students and all staff will return to our normal schedule on February 8th. Students should check SeeSaw or Google Classroom daily for their assignments. Attendance will be taken as normal. Please direct questions to your child’s school.
Any students or staff that are contact-traced to a positive case of COVID-19 will be notified by their school by tomorrow.
Any families in need of meals can pick them up on Tuesday by driving through the bus circle at Hayesville Primary School from 8:15 am-9:15 am. We will be working on setting up yellow bus deliveries of meals later this week if it is possible. Further information will be released about meal deliveries later this week.
All student athletes currently playing sports should still plan to attend practices and games unless notified otherwise by their coach or principal.
On behalf of the Clay County Board of Education, I want the community to know that we do not come to the decision to go full remote lightly. We have done everything we can to maximize as much face to face learning as possible under the Governor’s mandate since March of 2020. However, the safety of our students and staff must come first, and we have finally reached an obstacle that we will not be able to overcome for the next two weeks. We appreciate your patience as we work through this together as a community. Thank you and have a good evening.

Ask the Doc! Cologuards and the Lance Armstrong Shot

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Dr. William Whaley has returned for the new year and is ready to answer your questions about colonoscopies vs the Cologuard test and the other about Myelodysplasia and the Lance Armstrong shot.



Towns tenth in the nation for new COVID-19 cases

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LIz Ordiales Towns Covid-19

HIAWASSEE, Ga – Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales attended a Georgia Municipal Association conference call where Emory doctors and CDC officials warned Towns County and Georgia COVID-19 numbers were trending in the wrong direction.

“Georgia’s below the national average in testing. They’re higher than the national average in positive cases – 120 percent higher than we were in April,” Ordiales explained. “The rural counties are the worst hit.”

Towns County was ranked number 10 in the nation for increases and bad results and number one in new COVID-19 hospitalizations. In the last week, Towns confirmed 62 new cases with a positivity rate of 17.8 percent. The target rate for COVID-19 is five percent.

Chatuge Regional Hospital is currently full. Ordiales asked everyone to be careful because there’s no room at the hospital. The ICU and regular rooms are booked at Union General Hospital. Georgia hospitals are facing three issues: space, stuff, and staff. All three are running low.

“Their biggest concern now is they’re going to have to place less care on folks, “Somebody who is 90 who is sick do they really transport them because they have nowhere to take them.”

Emory and CDC condemned the vaccine rollout, stating that some vaccines in the state were wasted due to the lack of people available to receive the vaccine. As of Tuesday, 95,706 Georgians had taken their first COVID-19 shot. Both Pfizer and Moderna are a two-shot vaccine.

Follow the guidelines of gatherings of no more than 50 people and six feet of separation urged the local hospitals.

Election and qualifying fees were approved for the 2021 elections.

Hiawassee also paid off the remaining balance for a $1.2 million loan with a 4.375 interest rate. The city had paid $850,000 in interest with 18 years left on the loan. Hiawassee saved approximately $500,000 in interest.

Governor Cooper Extends Modified Stay At Home Order

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Governor Cooper extended North Carolina’s Modified Stay At Home Order that requires people to be at home from 10 pm – 5 am to last through at least Friday, January 29. Secretary Cohen also issued a Secretarial Directive with stark warnings for North Carolinians to avoid indoor spaces without masks and gatherings between households. Read here for more details on the Secretarial Directive.

“We have turned the page on a new year – one that we’re hoping will bring better times. But as we know, the virus didn’t disappear at midnight on December 31,” Governor Cooper said. “In fact, in North Carolina, we have seen some of our highest case counts, percent positives, hospitalizations and ICU bed usage numbers in the past few days. No matter where you live, work, worship or play, COVID-19 remains a deadly threat, and we must treat it that way.”

“We are in a very dangerous position. North Carolinians need to take immediate actions to save lives, slow the spread of the virus, and protect hospital capacity so that medical care is available to anyone who may need it, whether for COVID-19 or for any other reason,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

Dr. Cohen provided an update on North Carolina’s data and trends.

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is increasing.

Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is increasing.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is increasing.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is increasing.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.


  • Testing is widely available across the state.

Tracing Capability

  • There have been more than 600,000 downloads of the exposure notification app, SlowCOVIDNC.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • North Carolina’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

Dr. Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s COVID-19 County Alert System map. There are now 84 counties designated as red (critical community spread) and 12 counties that are yellow (substantial community spread). Read the update to see where each county stands and how the system was designed.

Vaccine Efforts Underway

Governor Cooper and Dr. Cohen also highlighted North Carolina’s efforts to support the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Governor Cooper has mobilized approximately 50 North Carolina National Guard personnel to support NCDHHS and North Carolina Emergency Management. The Guard will assist with administering the vaccine and logistics support for local entities.

“As we work to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are also helping local hospitals and health departments to support their vaccine efforts. Getting the vaccine out quickly is the most urgent priority right now, and we will use everything and everyone needed to get the job done,” Governor Cooper said.

NCDHHS is onboarding more health care providers to administer the vaccine and sharing detailed guidance with providers to help them get the vaccine out more quickly. NCDHHS has also notified vaccine providers that future allocations will be based on how quickly they are able to get their supply out to eligible recipients. If an entity is not using their vaccine supply quickly enough or keeping the state database updated on their progress that will impact how much they are allocated going forward.

As the state moves into Phase 1b, local hospitals and other vaccine providers can now begin administering vaccines to those over age 75. Individuals should call their local health department or hospital to see if they have started to schedule vaccine appointments. A comprehensive list of local health department contact numbers can be found here.

Finally, NCDHHS and the state of North Carolina continue to work with communities around the state who may be hesitant to accept the vaccine when it is their turn. Governor Cooper and Dr. Cohen underscored that this vaccine was authorized after independent health experts reviewed the data from tens of thousands of trial participants.

Read Executive Order No. 188.

UCS issues temporary mask mandate, suspends games for one week

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BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Given the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, Union County Board of Education moved to heighten virus precautions in the classroom with a mask mandate.

Students returned to class today, January 5, from winter break. Previously, the school encouraged masks but didn’t require face coverings for students. Now all students and teachers must wear a mask except for eating or drinking. Children with medical excuses will receive appropriate accommodations, such as a face shield.

Students exposed to COVID-19 must quarantine for 14 days, and those not following the COVID-19 protocols will be sent home. The school enhanced social distancing and meal mitigations when possible.

Additionally, the nine-week requirement for online learning was suspended until case numbers go back down. If a parent or guardian doesn’t feel comfortable sending their child to school, they can participate in online learning until a parent deems it safe. Parents and guardians against the mask policy were asked to keep their child at home until the old policies are reinstated.

The data following the black vertical line depicts the recent rise in quarantines and confirmed COVID-19 cases in the school. The orange dotted line = student quarantines. The red line = student positives. The black dotted line = staff quarantine. The black line = staff positives.

The board decided to cancel athletic events for the week of January 4 to 9. Practices will still take place.  Each week the athletic department will decide the game schedule and cancellations.  Once games resume, attendance will be limited with a mask requirement in place for fans. The school’s looking into livestreaming events.

Board members agreed that face-to-face instruction must continue until it’s no longer feasible for the system. The current UCS update placed 30 staff in quarantine or positive for COVID-19.  If the situation doesn’t improve, the district could move to online-only learning.

Newest board member and Union General Hospital Chief Nursing Officer stated that she views schools as a controlled environment. By keeping children in schools, it’s easier to manage their environments and contact trace.

Several schools districts in the Pioneer RESA opted to go online only for the foreseeable future, including Rabun, Banks, Gainesville, Hall Hart, Lumpkin, Madison, and White. Pickens County announced its decision to close for another week yesterday.

Union County discussed canceling games with schools that were online only but allowing athletic activities, citing that if the district is too sick to attend in-person classes, then should they be traveling to play sports.

Governor Lee Calls for Special Legislative Session on Education

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Special Legislative Session

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced a call for the Tennessee General Assembly to convene for a special legislative session on January 19, 2021 to address urgent issues facing Tennessee students and schools in the 2021-22 school year.

Preliminary data projects an estimated 50% decrease in proficiency rates in 3rd grade reading and a projected 65% decrease in proficiency in math. This loss only exacerbates issues that existed prior to the pandemic, where only one third of Tennessee third graders were reading on grade level.

“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense disruption for Tennessee’s students, educators, and districts, and the challenges they face must be addressed urgently,” said Gov. Lee. “Even before the virus hit, and despite years of improvement, too many of our state’s students were still unable to read on grade level. I’m calling on the legislature to join us in addressing these serious issues so we can equip our hardworking educators and districts with the resources and supports they need to set our students on the path to success.”

“As we have heard from districts since March, students need their teachers and schools like never before,” said Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “No child’s future should suffer academically because of COVID-19. Not only as commissioner, but as a mother of two school-aged children, I am grateful for the bold solutions that our governor and legislature will provide for our students and schools across the state and the department stands ready to work together to accomplish this mission-critical work.”

“In addition to presenting a public health crisis and disrupting our economy, the coronavirus also created enormous obstacles for our parents, teachers and students. Tennessee has made tremendous improvements in education over the last decade. The virus has begun to put all of that at risk,” said Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge). “It is of paramount importance that we take steps to reverse the learning loss that has taken place and prevent any further erosion of our progress. I appreciate Governor Lee calling this special session to draw our focus on the pressing needs of education in this state. The Senate will work with the House and the Administration to address these issues in an expeditious and efficient manner to the benefit of our students and our teachers.”

“I support Gov. Lee’s call for a special session on education,” said House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville). “The pandemic has caused considerable disruption for our students, teachers and schools.  Our goal is to make sure students are learning in the classroom, teachers have the resources they need, and our students have additional assistance in their educational journeys to improve their chances of success.”

“Over the past few years Tennessee has seen exciting growth in student achievement and we must take all necessary steps to make sure our students continue to learn through this ongoing pandemic,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin). “I salute the governor for calling us into special session to address this important problem and thank him for his continued commitment to education.”

“As a parent of two children in the public school system and a Representative of so many thousands of other families, I know it is critical for us to have the best education system in the nation,” said House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland). “I appreciate the Governor calling us into Special Session to ensure our children and teachers have the support they need in these difficult times.”

During the special session, the legislature will be tasked to take up five key education issues: Learning Loss, Funding, Accountability, Literacy, and Teacher Pay. Details on each proposal will be released by the Department of Education in the near future, in addition to the department’s plans to implement a new literacy program, “Reading 360.” The program will leverage one-time federal relief funding to support a phonics-based approach to literacy and will ensure Tennessee districts, teachers, and families are equipped with tools and resources to help students read on grade level by third grade.

NGHS may have to ration health care asks for help from community

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GAINESVILLE, Ga. – As the number of COVID-19 cases across the region, state and nation continue to climb, Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) leaders are asking for your help – and warning another post-holiday spike may force them to start rationing care.

“We’re struggling to find staff and space to care for people, and our frontline workers are exhausted,” said Clifton Hastings, MD, Chief of Medical Staff for Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC). “If COVID cases continue to increase, we may be forced to start making decisions about who we can treat effectively and who we have to send elsewhere or turn away. That’s a decision no physician should have to make, and a situation no one in our community should have to face.”

On November 24, two days before Thanksgiving, NGMC hospitals and long-term care locations were treating 133 COVID-positive patients. That total has more than doubled in the following month, up to a record 296 patients as of December 23. The average percentage of tests the Health System administer that come back positive has also risen sharply, up from 16% to 28% during the same timeframe – matching the previous record set in July.

“Early in the pandemic, we learned that limiting some services and expanding others can create additional space to care for patients – which we’ve continued to do – but we’re still faced with the challenge of maintaining enough qualified physicians and nurses to provide high-quality care,” says John Delzell, MD, COVID-19 Incident Commander for NGHS. “We’re extremely thankful for the staffing support the state has supplied, and we will continue to request additional help, but hospitals across the state all need those same resources.”
NGHS received nearly 5,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on December 17 and has vaccinated approximately 2,000 frontline workers during the past week. The Health System also received around 1,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine on December 23. More shipments are expected in early January.

“It’s important to remember that vaccination isn’t a magic bullet that will end the pandemic immediately,” says Supriya Mannepalli, MD, NGMC’s Medical Director of Infectious Disease Medicine. “People are tired of hearing this, but the best way to protect yourself, the people you love and your community this holiday season is to not visit family and friends outside your household, or take precautions if you do.”

According to Wednesday’s COVID-19 Daily Status Report on the Georgia Department of Public Health’s website, Hall County has seen more COVID activity than any county in the state outside the metro Atlanta area. Hall County ranks:
#4 in Confirmed Cases per 100K – 7,847
#5 in Confirmed Cases – 16,193
#5 in Hospitalizations – 1,526
#9 in Deaths – 210

Other counties in the northeast Georgia region that also appear among the top 30 in those categories include Gwinnett, Forsyth, Jackson, Barrow, Stephens, Habersham and Franklin.

“It’s clear that Hall and surrounding counties have been hit especially hard during the pandemic,” says Richard Higgins, Hall County Commission Chairman. “There are a variety of factors at play, but one common factor we can all control are the personal steps we take wear a mask, wash our hands and watch our distance.”

“We all want to keep working, keep our local businesses open and keep our kids in school,” says Kit Dunlap, President of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. “Taking small, inconvenient steps now, like not having large holiday gatherings, will help our community avoid bigger and more difficult steps in the future – like rationing care. Please celebrate safely.”

Get holiday tips, vaccine information and more helpful resources at

Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) is a non-profit on a mission of improving the health of our community in all we do. Our team cares for more than 1 million people across the region through four hospitals and a variety of outpatient locations. Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) has campuses in Gainesville, Braselton, Winder and Dahlonega – with a total of more than 700 beds and more than 1,100 medical staff members representing more than 50 specialties. Learn more at

First COVID-19 Vaccine for Healthcare Workers Delivered to Public Health in North Georgia

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DALTON, Ga – The North Georgia Health District announced that Whitfield County Health Department received an initial shipment of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and began administrating the vaccine to healthcare workers from a variety of medical offices on Friday.

This first shipment of Pfizer vaccine contained 1,950 doses and is being kept in an ultracold freezer required for storage and temperature control of the vaccine.

Moderna vaccine should begin arriving in Georgia next week and will be distributed to health departments for administration to healthcare workers in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens, and Whitfield counties.

Both Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine requires the administration of two doses to be fully effective.

Because initial COVID-19 vaccine supplies are limited, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) at the state and local level is following the recommendations of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) by prioritizing the vaccine for healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. The North Georgia Health District will also make vaccine available to local hospitals as those facilities await their own deliveries.

Additional information about distribution and administration of vaccine in North Georgia will be coming soon.

COVID-19 vaccine information in Georgia is available on the DPH website at

Safety Fire Commissioner deployed to Navajo Nation as part of the Nation Guard COVID-19 response

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John King Navajo Nation

ATLANTA – Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King issued the following statement today regarding his recent deployment to the Navajo Nation in his National Guard capacity in the ongoing fight against COVID-19:

“In light of my recent deployment to the Navajo Nation as part of the Department of Defense’s response to COVID-19, I will be stepping away from my role on the COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Task Force here in Georgia. However, I am confident that Governor Kemp and his team will make suitable arrangements to effectively implement our state’s comprehensive distribution plan. Upon my return, I will travel the state to urge Georgians – especially those in our Spanish-speaking communities – to get vaccinated. Together, we will ensure a safer, healthier future for our great state.”

The Navajo Nation, located in northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico,  is currently under a shelter in place order with a 57-hour lockdown on weekends. There’s evidence of 75 uncontrolled community spread cases as a result of family gatherings and travel. Residents are required to stay at home and stay on the Navajo reservation. Any movement is limited to essential activities. Businesses must close by 7 p.m. MST and the tourist attractions are closed. The order is in place until December 28, 2020.

According to the Nation’s President Jonathan Nez, the territory reported “158 new cases, 10,623 recoveries, and two more deaths related to COVID-19.” on Monday, December 14. Navajo Nation has a total of 19,766 cases. The 2010 census estimated that 173,667 people lived on the reservation.

Navajo Nation received it’s first shipment of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. It’s estimated to be around 3,900 doses will be distributed to healthcare facilities early this week.


CDC guide to safely celebrating Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving CDC

ATLANTA, Ga – Thanksgiving is next week and to help those concerned with coronavirus safely take part in the holiday, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued the following guidelines.

First, the organization recommends to only celebrate with people who live in your household. However, Thanksgiving is a time when many gather together with their extended families. The CDC posed that families could host a virtual Thanksgiving where everyone shares a meal digitally. People could also watch television and play games with people who live in their household or write down everything they are grateful for and share those items with family and friends.

Individuals could also prepare traditional dishes and leave them outside a loved one’s home.

Individuals could leave dishes outside to protect family members.

CDC asks that visitors bring their own utensils, food, drinks, plates, and cups. Also, people are advised to avoid going in and out of areas where food is being prepared or handled. Single-use options such as ranch dressing packets and disposable items are encouraged.

Hosting Thanksgiving

Those hosting the Thanksgiving meal are urged to have the event outside, limit the number of guests, frequently disinfect touched surfaces, and set expectations. If they choose to have an indoor meal, the CDC recommends opening windows, limiting the number of people in the kitchen, asking people to bring their own food and drink, and if sharing food, only one person should serve with plastic utensils.

People should follow the 3 W’s of wearing a mask, washing your hands, and waiting for social distancing aka maintaining six feet of separation.

The mask needs to be two or more layers and securely fitted over your mouth and nose. Also when eating Thanksgiving dinner, the CDC recommends that the mask is stored in a safe place.

When washing hands, people should take 20 seconds to scrub clean with soap and water. Also, everyone is encouraged to keep hand sanitizer on their person. The sanitizer should be at least 60 percent alcohol.

Thanksgiving Travel

For those who are traveling to visit loved ones, the CDC strongly recommends that everyone stay home to limit potential spread of COVID-19. However, those who are traveling should check travel restrictions, get their flu shot, always wear a mask while on public transportation, maintain six feet separation, wash their hands, bring extra masks and hand sanitizer, and avoid touching their face.

A virtual meal between households is urged by the CDC.

Thanksgiving Shopping

As for Black Friday, many stores began their sales at the beginning of November. CDC recommends that people participate in online sales and use contactless pick-up methods. If shopping in person, visit open-air markets and maintain social distance.

Images are courtesy of the CDC.

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