A “few” people have been tested, according to Wayne Memorial Hospital CEO Joe Ierardi, but as of mid-afternoon Friday, no one in Wayne County had been confirmed as having COVID-19.
“As of this writing, Wayne Memorial does not have a confirmed case of COVID-19,” Sondra Grantham, the hospital’s infection control and employee health director, said in a released statement Friday. “We continue to be in touch with the Georgia Department of Public Health to monitor the situation.”
At press time the Georgia Department of Public Health was reporting 420 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state and 13 deaths.
The hospital also continues to stress that Wayne Countians should practice thorough hand washing, social distancing and staying at home when sick.
Currently, the hospital cafeteria is closed to the public, and visitor restrictions are in place at two visitors per patient (regardless of age). All volunteer stations are closed.
“Anyone with questions about the coronavirus may call a local hotline at (912) 402-7625. This hotline is manned by a local nurse Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. After hours and on weekends, people may call the statewide hotline at (844) 442-2681,” Ierardi said.
He added that the latest information will continue to be posted on the hospital’s Facebook page, Twitter page and website.
Changes in services
A public service announcement from the Wayne County government and a local hotline at Wayne Memorial Hospital highlight local changes in response to the rapidly developing spread of the coronavirus.
At press time all county offices remained open under certain guidelines.
The county’s announcement provides information on the status of all county offices and services provided. A link to the announcement is available, along with a new county online page dedicated to information on the coronavirus, at www.waynecountyga.us. (The link is in the list under “Latest News” on the home page and is listed near the bottom of the coronavirus page under “News & Notices”).
The hospital hotline number for anyone with questions or concerns about the virus is (912) 402-7625 and is available Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. A 24-hour state hotline number is (844) 442-2681.
The Wayne County Hospital Authority held its meeting Thursday via a conference call.
A Monday town hall meeting planned by Wayne County Commissioner James “Boot” Thomas has been postponed to a later date.
Thomas said he would reschedule the meeting as soon as the travel ban for state employees is lifted. He said he plans to have a representative from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs at the gathering, as well as other representatives to present information on community development, the census and other community issues.
The county’s announcement about changes in services states that, in general, the county is continuing services unless directed otherwise by state officials.
The county “is committed to continuing essential services necessary for the county,” the report states, noting that some of those services will be modified.
The online report will be continuously updated to keep the county current with the virus situation, officials said.
•Citizens who wish to vote in the elections on May 19 are encouraged to request an absentee ballot beginning April 1 to avoid large gatherings.
•Citizens are encouraged to use online services whenever possible and to call ahead of time to schedule any necessary personal appearances.
•Citizens are urged to pay taxes online at www.waynegatax.com.
•Car tag renewals must be done in person at the moment, but a system for renewals online is expected to be available by Wednesday.
•Weapons licenses and marriage, birth and death certificates will continue to be processed, but an advance appointment is required.
•Only emergency probates of wills and estates and other petitions will be scheduled, and only emergency court hearings will be held.
•Meetings of the Wayne County Board of Commissioners are still scheduled, but efforts are underway to provide those meetings to the public online.
•The start of recreation baseball season will be delayed, and no mandatory preseason practices will be held.
•Parks continue to remain open, but large gatherings are discouraged.
Jesup City Hall
City Hall will remain open during normal business hours but will be limited to only drive-through customers until further notice. The city asks that you bring your water bill to provide quick service. If you’re paying by check or money order and don’t need a receipt, you may deposit your stub and payment in the drop-box.
In addition, customers may also pay their water bills and/or taxes by mail, online, by credit/debit card, by bank draft or through the drop-box. If you need water service, visit www.jesupga.gov to complete and submit an application online prior to arriving at City Hall.
Screven City Hall
City Hall and the public works building are currently closed to the public, except for emergencies, for an indefinite period of time.
The public works department will handle only essential functions to limit public exposure.
You can pay your utilities and fines by phone, mail or drop-box during the closure. The city will mail you a receipt. Envelopes will be available outside the building for you to mark the account you are paying. A return address should be included on the envelope.
The city encourages paying your bills by calling 579-2211 or via debit or credit card.
A list of resources for large community events and mass gatherings can be viewed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/index.html. The information is updated daily.
Walmart and Harvey’s supermarkets in Jesup have modified their store hours to accommodate disinfecting procedures and to restock shelves. Walmart’s adjusted hours are 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily, and Harvey’s adjusted hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Harvey’s will also set aside an hour from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. each day for senior citizens and high-risk customers to do their shopping.
Wednesday Gov. Brian P. Kemp and the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) addressed an increase in the number of partial claims filed as a result of businesses reducing work hours or temporarily closing their doors in light of recent developments regarding COVID-19.
“We are laser-focused on assisting the hardworking Georgians who have been impacted by the spread of the virus,” said Kemp. “Working with GDOL and our partners across the public and private sectors, we can ensure affected employees land on their feet and are made aware of other employment opportunities. Together, we will protect Georgia’s top-notch workforce as we continue to fight the spread of COVID-19.”
As of an emergency ruling Tuesday by Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler, employers are mandated to electronically file partial claims on behalf of their employees whenever it is necessary to temporarily lay workers off.
“We are partnering with the Governor’s Office and our federal and state authorities to make sure we are able to get the citizens of Georgia paid,” said Butler. “We are working as an agency to provide innovative solutions to meet the needs of our customers, even when information is changing every day.”
Filing partial claims results in employees receiving unemployment insurance (UI) benefit payments faster, usually within 48 hours for claims filed electronically. Employees for whom a partial claim is filed are not required to report to a GDOL career center, register for employment services or seek other work. All Georgia employers will share in the cost of unemployment benefits paid to employees temporarily displaced as a result of COVID-19.
The GDOL is continuing to work with employers across Georgia to also get Georgians employed. More than 101,000 jobs are listed online at www.EmployGeorgia.com for Georgians to access. The GDOL offers online resources for finding a job, building a resume and many other re-employment needs.
“Our agency specializes in not only providing unemployment support for those out of work, even if temporarily, but also giving Georgians every opportunity to find work and reenter the workforce,” said Butler.
Information on filing an unemployment claim, details on how employers must file partial claims, and resources for other re-employment assistance can be found at www.gdol.ga.gov, and Georgians may visit www.EmployGeorgia.
com for access to job opportunities.
(Staff writer John Eden contributed to this story).