EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – “Gilmer Schools have seen an explosion of positive COVID cases and quarantines throughout this week.” Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian Ridley read a statement during the Gilmer County Board of Education this week on Thursday night, August 19, 2021, during their Regular Scheduled meeting.
As of that meeting, the total cases in Gilmer’s school system surpassed a district wide 900 students in quarantine and 100 positive cases in students and staff.
That explosion also culminated in the cancellation of the season opening varsity football game against Pickens on Friday, August 20, 2021. The school system stated, “Decisions such as these are not taken lightly, and we must prioritize the safety and well being of all student-athletes and spectators for both teams.”
Dr. Ridley said in a letter to parents about COVID restrictions earlier this week that the school system would be mandating masks and face coverings starting on Monday, August 23, 2021. He stated, “I feel it is imperative that we act now in an effort to keep our students safe and our schools open.”
In efforts to notify and share the information well in advance, that letter was sent out. However, at the Thursday meeting, Dr. Ridley also informed citizens that while working with the Department of Health, new guidelines will be coming next week in implementation. He confirmed that he would be discussing these with the press on Monday to inform citizens more about those changes as the school looks to continue implementing DPH guidelines into the schools.
As of now, Monday will see masking on school buses only with strong encouragement to wear masks throughout the day. Dr. Ridley also urged others to consider using masks and getting vaccinated against the virus. During his statement in the meeting, Dr. Ridley stated, “Students and staff who are fully vaccinated or masked during exposure will not be subject to quarantine.”
Additionally, the Board of Education also approved COVID leave time for staff that have exposures and positive tests. Superintendent Ridley stated that the official numbers will be updated on their website tomorrow, August 20, 2021.
With the announcement of new COVID guidelines made and implementation on the way, the school system is currently working on the “logistics of implementing this new guidance as early as Monday or Tuesday of next week.”
Gilmer is continuing with quarantining for 10 days and requirements to be fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications with an improvement of symptoms.
Additionally, Dr. Ridley previously told FYN that virtual academy was not being implemented for the start of school, but Gilmer does have the option if the need arises. He did not mention virtual academy at the meeting.
As the Superintendent shares more information on the changing guidelines FYN will continue to share new articles with the updated information.
GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – Gilmer, like most all of North Georgia, is seeing resurgence in the COVID-19 virus, whether from the original virus or some variant.
According to reports from the Georgia Department of Public Health, Gilmer saw 15 new cases yesterday alone. In the last two weeks, it has seen 61 new cases. Along with this, the Georgia DPH has once again put Gilmer on the High Transmission counties list.
According to documentation on the GDPH website, they classify High Transmission with the following criteria; “14-day cases rate is >100 cases/100,000 county residents (>5 cases during this period) AND 14-day average % positive PCR tests >10% (>20 total tests performed during this period).”
The Georgia DPH also reports that Gilmer has had 2,663 total cases as of August 9, 2021. Gilmer is among the vast majority of counties in Georgia with this classification, now, as only eight counties in the entire state still remain outside of that criteria. Last week, there were nearly 30 counties not classified as High Transmission.
Further breaking down their statistics, the Department reclassified the counties into three classifications of Green, Yellow, and Red based on their positivity rates in testing. Gilmer received a Yellow Classification. Yellow means “5-10% PCR positivity during previous 14 days.”
Gilmer has seen a 9.7% Positivity of the 432 tests performed in the last 14 days.
Along with the increasing numbers within the county, discussion is increasing at state and federal levels about pushing further with mandates than what has been previously seen.
On August 3, 2021, the North Georgia Health District published an article that stated, “In areas with substantial and high transmission, the CDC recommends that everyone (including fully vaccinated individuals) wear a mask in public indoor settings to help prevent spread of COVID-19 and the Delta variant.”
FYN has confirmed with some local public safety authorities in nearby counties that local discussions have already started for reinstating suggested preventative measures and restrictions in some areas.
Gilmer Schools have also been monitoring the numbers consistently as Superintendent Dr. Brian Ridley said they look at several reports from the daily numbers to specifically school age children from the Department of Health. Dr. Ridley noted that the schools are, again, working closely with the Department of Public Health as these numbers trend upward. From webinars to communicating with the local branch of the Georgia Department of Health, the system is continuing to stay connected with both medical experts and surrounding counties and their BOEs according the Ridley.
He also noted that some steps are already being taken as suggested mask usage and separation in the cafeteria are just some of the small steps they have taken so far. While he said that the virtual academy is available as a back-up, they have no immediate plans for usage as a response to the numbers. He also stated that mask usage is suggested to students. The school mandate was lifted towards the final few weeks on the last school year.
Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlie Paris has also commented saying he monitors the county’s numbers. With the county’s regular meetings starting tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. and Thursday at 6 p.m., there is no planned discussion nor any immediate response in how the meeting will be held.
Gilmer has seen a one day spike of 15 cases, but it barely compares to January as cases peaked on July 15, 2020, with 49 new cases. Both July 2020 and January 2021 say 7 day averages topping 15 to 20 new cases. Comparatively, August 9, 2021, saw a 7 day average of 6.9 cases.
The Department of Health has put the majority of counties into the High Transmission category while local boards are opting for caution and analyzation to see if this is simply a small spike, or a trend towards something more.
NATIONAL HIV TESTING DAY
North GA – Why should you get an HIV test?
Because, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in seven people in the United States are HIV positive and they don’t know it. If you are age 13 to 64, you should get tested for HIV at least once. *People at higher risk should get tested more often.
National HIV Testing Day on Wednesday, June 27th is your opportunity in North Georgia to get HIV tested for FREE at your local public health department in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties or at The Living Bridge Center in Dalton. Just go to www.nghd.org to find your health department or The Living Bridge Center hours of operation, phone number and location, or call the North Georgia Health District at (706) 529-5757.
Our HIV testing is fast, safe and confidential.
National HIV Testing Day is an annual occasion to encourage people to get an HIV test. CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. *People with certain risk factors should get tested more often. People who test HIV positive can take medicines to stay healthy and greatly reduce their chance of transmitting the virus. People who test negative can continue to take steps to prevent HIV infection, such as always using a condom during sex.
North Georgians Urged to take Extra Precautions as Viral Illnesses Increase
North Georgia – North Georgia Health District officials report that there has been an increase in the number of stomach virus and influenza outbreaks in north Georgia and warn that the results could be severe, possibly requiring hospitalization.
“It is not too late to vaccinate against the flu,” said Sherry Gregory, RN, North Georgia Health District Infectious Disease Supervisor. “Flu activity is increasing throughout our area. We expect the flu season to reach its peak early this year, within the next few weeks, so it is important to get vaccinated now. Flu vaccination not only protects the person who receives the vaccine but it also keeps them from spreading the flu virus to others.”
Everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against the flu. Flu vaccination is especially important for people who are at greater risk for complications from flu and those who live with or care for these individuals. Groups of people that are at high risk for flu complications include children younger than 5 years, adults 65 years and older, and pregnant women. Medical conditions such as asthma, chronic lung or heart disease and diabetes can also increase the risk for flu complications.
“Flu vaccine is available at all our health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties,” said Gregory. For health department contact information, click on the LOCATIONS tab on the North Georgia Health District website at www.nghd.org.
Flu symptoms may include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and/or, possibly, vomiting and diarrhea.
People at higher risk for complications from the flu should seek medical care as soon as they begin to feel ill, even if they have been vaccinated. They could benefit from antiviral drugs, that can reduce the risk of experiencing complications and reduce the severity and duration of illness. Antiviral drugs are most effective when given early in the onset of illness.
Stomach viruses, such as Norovirus, are very contagious and can infect anyone. These viruses can be spread to others by an infected person, through contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. These viruses can cause the stomach and/or intestines to become inflamed, which leads to stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms can be serious for some people, especially young children and older adults.
To reduce the spread of influenza and stomach viruses, take everyday preventive actions(https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits/index.htm) to stop spreading the viruses.
- Get a flu shot – this will protect you against the flu virus, which will be especially critical if you are infected with some other virus.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them, especially avoiding healthcare facilities and long-term care homes.
- Avoid having children inside healthcare facilities and long-term care homes to protect them from catching viruses and to prevent them from spreading viruses to the people who are there.
- If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
For more information about influenza and its prevention, log onto to the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/index.html. Learn more about preventing the spread of stomach viruses at https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/index.html.
For Immediate Release
January 8, 2018
LATEST UPDATE: Public Health Delayed Openings in North Georgia Health District for Monday, January 8, 2018
North GA – ALL our health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties will now delay opening until noon today due to icy road conditions. Now, only the North Georgia Health District office in Dalton will open at 10 A.M. Updates are posted to nghd.org.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation
Contact: Nelly Miles – Public Affairs Director
For Immediate Release
June 8, 2017
GBI Crime Lab Testing in Overdoses Related to Counterfeit Pills
Decatur, GA – On Wednesday, June 7, 2017, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Lab received evidence related to the reported overdoses in the Central Georgia area. Preliminary results indicate a mixture of two synthetic opioids, with one of the drugs being consistent with a new fentanyl analogue. This fentanyl analogue has not previously been identified by the GBI Crime Lab. Due to the nature of the analysis, testing to confirm the full identity of the drug will require additional time. The GBI Crime Laboratory continues to make the analysis a priority.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia Poison Center, hospitals, local, state, and federal partners are working jointly on this investigation.