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Governor voices confidence despite uptick in COVID-19 cases
Virus hits local long-term care facilities with force; Newton school closes due to rise in cases
Kemp shakes hands with Horton
Gov. Brian Kemp (center) shakes hands with Covington Mayor Steve Horton (right) after arriving to Bridgestone Golf on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. First Lady Marty Kemp (left) looks on.

COVINGTON, Ga. — Despite an uptick in COVID-19 cases across Georgia and the U.S., Gov. Brian Kemp said the Peach State was in good shape.

At an event held in Covington on Thursday, the governor talked about the pandemic’s effect on business and economic growth within the state moving forward. He said virus “flare-ups” wouldn’t have much of an affect, if any.

“I don’t think it’s going to affect it at all because people like (Bridgestone Golf in Covington) have done an unbelievable job,” Kemp said. “We’ve shown to the rest of the country and the world that we can reopen safely in a measured way, but we’ve got to continue to be vigilant.

“I’m very thankful for the position that we’re in now even though we’ve seen a small uptick in hospitalizations,” he continued. “I had a call with a metro-Atlanta CEO — none of them are concerned. They’ve got everything under control. We’re talking to them about PPE, therapeutics, vaccine distribution, so we continue to work on all of that. 

“So, we’re in a really good spot, but I want to urge my fellow citizens — and this goes to my family as well — to continue to be vigilant. Wear your mask when you're at public events and you can’t socially distance. Social distance, wash your hands and continue to follow the guidance that we have. (Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey) and her team have done a great job of allowing us to be able to reopen but to reopen smartly. And then as Dr. Toomey says, get your flu shot. No issues with the flu right now, and I think it’s because people are doing all of these things, but we’ve got to remain vigilant. 

“We don’t even want to talk about going back to where we were. We can deal with small bumps, that’s what we’ve designed our system to do. We just don’t need to be flaring up like some parts of the country are right now.”

Since the virus made its way into Georgia, more than 380,000 people have contracted COVID-19 and killed 8,403, as of Thursday afternoon. In the last two weeks, more than 24,000 cases had been reported across the state. The positivity rate of testing over the same 14-day period was 7.7%.

In Newton County, 200 new cases had been reported in the last two weeks and the positivity rate stood at 10.4%, as of Thursday afternoon. The cumulative case total for the county was 3,081 and the cumulative death total was 101.

COVID-19 hits local school, long-term care facilities

One Newton County school was forced to shut down this week due to COVID-19. The district announced Wednesday that Cousins Middle School would revert to remote learning only and not reopen for in-person learning again until Nov. 30 due to potentially eight cases (one confirmed positive and seven presumed positive) being reported. There were 25 staff members who were likely to be quarantined.

District-wide, Newton County Schools had 7,483 students attending for in-person instruction, according the system’s latest report Friday, Nov. 6, with a total of 2,626 staff members. There were 78 students and 37 staff members reportedly quarantined. An update for the week of Nov. 9-13 was not made available prior to The Covington News’ weekend edition deadline.

Long-term care facilities, as of Thursday afternoon, have also seen increases in COVID-19 cases.

• Benton House of Covington: Resident census – 49; COVID positive residents – 18; resident deaths - 5; total tested – 50; residents recovered – 13; COVID positive staff – 12.

• Merryvale Assisted Living in Oxford: Resident census – 55; COVID positive residents – 17; resident deaths - 5; total tested – 67; residents recovered – 12; COVID positive staff – 8.

• Oaks at Ashton Hills in Covington: Resident census – 51; COVID positive residents – 32; resident deaths - 4; total tested – 70; residents recovered – 5; COVID positive staff – 11.

• Pruitt Health in Covington: Resident census – 57; COVID positive residents – 50; resident deaths - 0; total tested – 215; residents recovered – 0; COVID positive staff – 13.

• Riverside Health Care Center in Covington: Resident census – 93; COVID positive residents – 108; resident deaths - 34; total tested – 546; residents recovered – 58; COVID positive staff – 54.

(Editor’s Note concerning long-term care facility statistics: Per the Georgia Department of Public Health,"Resident census” represents the number of residents under the facility’s care. “COVID positive residents” represents the cumulative number of residents who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.“Resident deaths” represents the cumulative number of COVID-19 positive residents who have died.“COVID positive staff” represents the cumulative number of employees working at the facility who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.)