MOULTRIE, Ga. — The City of Moultrie has canceled all special events to be held at city-owned facilities for the next eight weeks to protect its citizens in wake of COVID-19.

Mayor Bill McIntosh, following recommendations from President Donald Trump and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, announced the cancellations in an address to the city Tuesday night.

He said the city is working to make sure its residents and staff are safe during this time of uncertainty. 

This addresses city-sponsored community events too. As of now, Spring Fling and Backyard BBQ competition, and the Second Saturdays in April and May have been canceled.

“I ask that the community follow the same recommendations for any private gatherings with over 10 people,” he said in his address. “We understand that social distancing ourselves from others is the best way to keep this virus from spreading.”

Dr. Charles Ruis, health director of the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Southwest Health District, said on Monday there were still no COVID-19 cases in Colquitt County, but the risk is still there.

On March 4, McIntosh asked that the community at large be proactive against the virus by following the CDC’s guidelines on the matter:

• Wash your hands frequently.

• Covering your mouth and nose with an elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing

• Keeping a reasonable distance between yourself and others especially if they’re coughing, sneezing or have a fever--symptoms of COVID-19

• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.

On Tuesday, McIntosh advised restaurants and businesses to gear themselves towards curbside delivery or drive-thru service as well.

The city itself will continue to provide services, which include utilities, open roadways, and police and fire protection, he said.

“We are all concentrating on making city services available with a minimum of person-to-person contact,” he said. “A lot has been worked out within the city itself — within the city hall — to minimize contact and minimize opportunities that would be detrimental to everyone’s health.”

One such way is using the drive-thru service or dropbox for utility payments. Those that may have financial issues due to COVID-19 can call the city’s customer service, 229-985-1974.

In the meantime, city offices will be manned for the time being and city officials will continue to monitor COVID-19’s spread. 

Community Action Council

The Southwest Georgia Community Action Council has canceled events for youth and the elderly, CEO Randy Weldon said.

SWGACAC’s senior meals program usually delivers meals to the elderly or provides it to them in a congregate setting. The program’s focus will switch for the time being.

“What we’re doing is we’re just moving them all over to home delivery for the foreseeable future,” Weldon said. “When it appears safe that we can resume a group setting then we’ll do that.”

Its Head Start program, a child development program for low-income families, saw its final day for the time being too. Children and staff have been asked not to return until the Colquitt County School System resumes.

SWGACAC will also cancel its March 24 board meeting in favor of a less physical communication method. Weldon said he hopes they’ll be able to have a board meeting in May.

“Other than that, as clients are coming in for other services, we’re just going by what CDC recommends as far as disinfecting, using hand sanitizer and trying to keep the social distance there when we’re doing applications,” Weldon said. 

The SWGACAC is trying to get as much of its clientele’s information as it can before getting them in to finish the application.

Senior Center

The Moultrie Senior Center is closed on a week-by-week basis, starting Monday, March 16.

Daily clients can get their regular 11:30 a.m. meals by knocking on the side door in the parking area and picking them up.

Colquitt Regional 

Colquitt Regional Medical Center will be adjusting accordingly to prevent COVID-19 in its medical facilities. Anyone who enters the hospital will be screened, Emily Watson, the hospital’s marketing director, said.

Those seeking care and exhibiting symptoms (fever, cough and shortness of breath) are immediately given a mask and directed to the emergency department.

“Any visitors to the hospital that are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms that are not seeking care for themselves will be denied entry,” she said. “No visitors under the age of 18 are allowed in the hospital.”

All employees will be screened prior to each shift.

EMS received changes too. The E-911 dispatcher is asking all callers if anyone at the location in need has signs or symptoms of COVID-19. If so, EMS will don the appropriate personal protective equipment upon arrival.

If the emergency room is needed, staff will be notified en route to don PPE and prep an isolation room for the patient.

PCOM South Georgia

The South Georgia campus of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, which announced last week that students would be taking classes online as of Monday, March 16, announced on Tuesday that it would cancel an open house planned April 2 for prospective students.

Moultrie-Colquitt County public library

The public library announced Sunday that it would be closed until March 29.

That closure affects all groups that use the library’s meeting space, including the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group, which canceled its meeting that had been scheduled for Thursday.

Relay for Life

Relay for Life, an annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, was scheduled for April 24, but it has been postponed. Local organizers will hold a conference call today with an ACS representative to try to determine when it can be rescheduled.

Veterans services

The Veterans Express Bus carries veterans from Moultrie and other South Georgia towns to the VA hospital in Lake City, Fla. It has been canceled until further notice.

The VA Sunshine Healthcare Network (VISN 8), a group that includes VA facilities in South Georgia and North Florida, are transitioning to virtual appointments as much as possible so veterans can stay home and avoid exposure. The facilities will cease non-urgent elective procedures and are further restricting visitations, according to a press release emailed on Tuesday. The network had announced enhanced screening protocols last week, and those are still in effect.

University System of Georgia

All schools of the University System, including all campuses of ABAC, will finish the remainder of the spring semester by receiving all of their instruction online. In the case of ABAC, that will begin March 30 when students return from a two-week hiatus that was also caused by the coronavirus.

All scheduled ABAC events including intercollegiate athletics have been canceled through the end of the spring term on May 7.

Moultrie-Colquitt County Chamber of Commerce

The Moultrie-Colquitt County Chamber of Commerce has closed its business office but staff will be available by phone and email.

In-person programs, including Leadership Colquitt County, Coffee and Commerce, and a meeting of the Workforce Committee, have been canceled through March 29, at which point the chamber will evaluate its next steps.

The chamber is also asking members to fill out a survey about the effect of coronavirus on their business. It plans to use the information it gathers to provide better support through information on how to weather economic challenges related to the virus.

Sanderson Farms

Sanderson Farms’ corporate office released a statement Monday that indicated the company was currently unaffected by the virus.

“With so much uncertainty surrounding the novel coronavirus, and the changes we face in our daily lives, Sanderson Farms wants to reassure our customers, consumers and communities that we will continue to process and ship high-quality, safe and affordable poultry products,” said Joe F. Sanderson, chairman and chief executive officer of Sanderson Farms, Inc.  “Currently, all 12 of the company’s poultry processing complexes and our prepared chicken plant, as well as our corporate headquarters, are operating normally.  The company has not experienced any supply chain disruptions, and our logistics team continues to meet delivery needs and schedules.”

The company has had no reports that any of its personnel or contract growers have tested positive for the virus, the press release said. Management is monitoring operations closely, however, and has consulted with infectious disease experts to adopt precautions throughout the company. If any company or grower personnel test positive, or if any area of the company’s operations becomes exposed to the virus, the company will cooperate fully with local, state and federal authorities to implement and enforce appropriate quarantines.

The company has put in place efforts to prevent the spread of the disease, the statement said, including travel restrictions, hand-sanitizing stations, more frequent cleaning, and training for company nurses and supervisors.

PruittHealth

PruittHealth, the company that manages several of Moultrie’s assisted living centers, is attempting to help residents stay in touch with loved ones despite social distancing mandated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

The company is offering to schedule video chats in any PruittHealth facility, including those in Moultrie. Family members can call the PruittHealth Emergency Operations Center at 1-855-742-5983 to schedule one.

The company is also asking the community to participate in acts of kindness for the elderly by sending cards, a short greeting or video, an illustration, or “Thinking of You” notes to the facilities via the email address CaringCards@PruittHealth.com.

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