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Heard County Board of Health
Shelter in Place Order
March 26, 2020
The Heard County Board of Health, along with mayors of the local municipalities and members of District IV Public Health, met in an emergency called meeting on Wednesday, March 25th to discuss what steps may be appropriate to protect Heard County residents during the COVID crisis.
Board Chair Rodney Kay expressed concerns regarding the escalating numbers of cases in surrounding counties. Mr. Kay noted that a large portion of Heard’s population, through necessity, works and shops in those surrounding communities thus escalating the risk to the county’s population.
The Board discussed the current crises happening in the three major hospitals; Tanner, WellStar, and Piedmont as they become inundated with cases. Additionally, concerns are that Heard’s first responders and public safety agencies are already short-staffed and an infection among them would cripple emergency response and care within the county.
Based on these and other factors such as the strain on staffing and shortages of supplies and resources at surrounding hospitals, lack of healthcare facilities within the county, and foremost, the concern for the loss of lives of any Heard County citizens, the Board made the decision to take a proactive step toward preventing the spread of COVID-19.
The Board issued a ‘shelter in place’ order effective at 12:01 AM Saturday, March 28th. The order will remain in effect through Friday, April 24th at 11:59 PM. The order will be reviewed prior to expiration and may be extended if necessary.
The "shelter in place" order, which is enforceable by city and county governments, allows essential facilities such as healthcare centers, grocery stores, and gas stations to stay open, but health officials are instructing residents to shelter in place and not leave their homes for any non-essential reason.
Businesses allowed to remain open will be supplied with instructional materials to assist them in protecting their staff and the public.
In ending the meeting, Mr. Kay said, “We’d like to avoid the unpleasantry of ‘enforcement’ so we’re asking each member of the public to willingly cooperate with the shelter order for the safety of all our residents. We’d like to bring this crisis to an end as soon as possible in order to help our businesses survive and resurrect.”
Mr. Kay continued, “Based on the data I’ve reviewed from Tanner in Carrollton, one infected person can infect 2.5 persons every five days. The potential for infections from that one person within one month exceeds 400 persons. The data that says Heard County ‘only has 1 case’ doesn’t mean there aren’t other cases still in the testing phase or self-quarantined.
Callie Hill, Nurse Practitioner with District IV Public Health at Heard County Health Department said, “We’re not trying to prevent some future health crisis. This is a health crisis that’s HERE NOW and we need people to understand that if it continues to spread, more lives will be lost. There is no vaccine yet and no cure. Some of those lives, many that could have been saved, will be lost because of a lack of ICU beds and resources, ventilators, and so on. Medical staff and first responders will be lost as a result of exposure due to lack of proper protective gear, and so on. Congregating and unnecessary interaction with others outside of immediate family will risk the lives of many within Heard County. We have the potential to reduce the spread if everyone, EVERY ONE, does their part. Out of county travel is strongly discouraged STAY AT HOME. If you must go out for essentials, stay six feet away from every other person and touch as little as possible.”
For more information, a copy of the Heard County Board of Health ‘shelter-in-place’ order is available at HERE and will be distributed through the press and social media.