Those in "Close contact" with TPC COVID patient advised by DPH to 'self monitor'

Updated: Mar 31

The Toccoa Police Department and City of Toccoa is adhering to CDC and Department of Public Health guidelines following notification that a TPD employee has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

ConnectLocal spoke at 3:30 p.m. with Toccoa City Manager Billy Morse regarding the announcement that a Toccoa City Police employee has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

"The Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) has confirmed to city officials that a city employee did test positive, and has provided procedures and guidelines that the city is following in addressing the employee’s infection," Morse said.

“The next step (after GDPH notification to the city), and we are helping them (GDPH) with this step, is to identify all those individuals that have been in ‘close contact’ with the employee,” Morse said.

“Close contact,” as defined by the GDPH guidelines, means an individual that is “contact for a period of at least 10 minutes, within six feet,” Morse said, adding that the GDPH guidelines say that any individual who meets that criteria of “close contact” should “self-monitor” for seven days to see if they develop any symptoms.

Neither testing, nor self-quarantine, is advised for individuals unless they are symptomatic, at which time they should go thorough the normal procedure that citizens should follow if they are experiencing symptoms, which begins with calling the individual’s personal care provider or Public Health Department in order to go through the screening process for testing,” Morse said.

According to GDPH guidelines, employees who have come into contact with the staff member who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 are still able to go to work and proceed under the standard social distancing guidelines in place for the general public, Morse said.

Following notification of the COVID-19 positive employee, cleaning was conducted by Stephens County Emergency Management Agency Director Danielle Rhodes using a fogging machine specifically designed for COVID-19 disinfection.

“She fogged the entire police department and the main ares of the main floor of city hall that this individual may have traveled on, the public areas,” Morse said. “When I told GDPH that we had used this machine, they were ecstatic, it is so much more efficient than wiping things down with a cloth.

The “electrostatic gun,” is a disinfectant backpack fogger that uses Bioesque Disinfectant solution, a “EPA Registered Broad-Spectrum Disinfectant.” Stephens County EMA, along with other county agencies throughout the state, were given two of the disinfectant guns and 10 gallons of the disinfectant last year through a grant from the Region B Healthcare Coalition in response to concerns about Ebola. The disinfectant has been approved for disinfection against SARS-CoV-2, Rhodes said.

“We are doing everything according to the CDC andDPH health guidelines to keep our citizens and our customers safe,” Morse said. “We provide essential services to this community, and its our goal to keep everyone healthy so we can continue to provide those essential service.”

Morse said that there had been talk between county and city officials, prior to Governor Brian Kemp’s most recent public announcement, about any potential necessity for strengthening the local regulations regarding social distancing and stay-at-home efforts, but said that, since Kemp’s March 23 Executive Order was announced, no further joint discussion has been held.

“I do not think we are prepared to do that. That does not mean we re not thinking about it and talking about it, but to set up a commission meeting to talk about it? That has not been started,”:Morse said about the potential for city commissioners to implement local regulations.

County Manger Phyllis Ayers said county staff and commissioners are in constant contact, even over the weekend, and are monitoring the COVID-19 situation within the county, and are discussing possible precautions that may need to be taken if the local situation continues to develop, but said that no action has been taken, and no commission meeting g has been called.

Any directives from the County Board of Commissioners would come in the form of a resolution or ordinance, and that would require a public meeting of the Board of Commissioners, including the opportunity for public comment, she said.


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