COVINGTON, Ga. — As the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to mount in Newton County and across Georgia, Covington Mayor Steve Horton issued a public plea for residents to be diligent in the fight against the novel virus.
During the Covington City Council’s Jan. 19 meeting, Horton encouraged community members to continue following the proper protocols to slow down the virus’ spread.
“We’ve got to do everything that we can as individuals to help keep ourselves and others safe, because this virus is spreading like — I guess the old saying is like wildfire,” Horton said.
“We’ve been told repeatedly by those people who certainly know what’s going on that wearing masks and following CDC guidelines can help protect yourselves and others. So I guess what I’m saying is please do the right thing. Wear your mask. Follow the CDC guidelines including staying six or more feet apart.”
The city of Covington currently has a mask mandate in effect. It was first issued in October, then lifted briefly in November before it was ultimately reinstated Dec. 7. The mandate requires a mask or face covering be worn on city property if unable to social distance.
Masks are not required to be medical grade, so long as they cover the nose and mouth. Bandanas, scarves and other similar fabrics are allowed.
Businesses within city limits may indicate that they require masks on their property by posting a notice at each entrance accessible to the public. Masks are not required while eating or drinking, or if socially distanced at least six feet apart.
The Covington Police Department has been enforcing the ordinance on all public property and any private property that chooses to require masks. Any individual who fails to be in compliance with this order is subject to a $50 fine.
The order will not be lifted again until the council votes to do so or data from the Georgia Department of Public Health shows the cases per 100,000 in a two week period falls below 100.
Currently, as of Thursday Jan. 28, Newton County’s rate is 611 per 100,000 residents. There have been 687 new cases confirmed within the last two weeks. The county’s cumulative case count is 6,090. There have been 150 deaths.
Horton echoed public health officials by encouraging residents to avoid all types of gatherings and to stay home is sick — whether it’s COVID-19 or not.
“The bottom line is the life that you save — and this is somebody else’s quote, not mine — could be your own, but it could be someone you really love and care about, too,” Horton said. “I’ve known three people over the last 4-6 weeks that aren’t with us today because they had COVID. They may have had underlying conditions, but they’re not here today. And that’s just the people I know. People are dying daily. I heard, maybe in California, that it was like one every 10 minutes or so. That’s frightening. And no one knows when they get it who’s going to survive and who’s not.
“Please, please, if you hear me, do everything you can to keep yourself and others [safe]. I plead with everyone.”
As of Thursday, Jan. 28, there have been 731,826 total COVID-19 cases confirmed statewide since the pandemic began more than one year ago. Nearly 78,000 of those cases have come within the last two weeks. The statewide confirmed death toll stands at 12,135. An additional 1,500-plus deaths list COVID-19 as the “probable” cause.