City and county leaders discuss rising COVID-19 cases, masks in public

July 8, 2020–5:43 p.m.


City and county leaders are standing in agreement about the importance of wearing a face-covering while in public as a way to stem the rise in COVID-19 cases.  However, whether masks should be mandatory remains an open question.

Members of the Rome City and Floyd County Commissions gathered with representatives from public health and local healthcare facilities to discuss the pandemic and what can be done.

Dr. Gary Voccio, health director for the 10-county Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest District, again stressed the wearing of masks.

“There’s a lot of controversy about it,” he said.  “However, they do attenuate a cough and the droplet nuclei in the aerosol.  There are aerosol studies out there that do demonstrate that.  There are aerosol engineers who have demonstrated that.”

Dr. Voccio added that masks and other measures like social distancing are important, but people are following them.

“If I have to go to Home Depot or run in briefly, hardly anyone is wearing a mask,” he said.  “People aren’t social distancing at the grocery store either.  It’s something we have to come to terms with as a community because we are going to see more die from this.  We’re going to overwhelm the emergency rooms and the ICUs. I look at this every day and Floyd Medical Center has gone from four to five cases in a week-and-a-half to 25, which is very worrisome.”

As far as mandating masks, concerns were raised about how to enforce such a rule, especially in the unincorporated areas of the county.

Both the city and county commissions are expected to discuss the issue further during their meetings next week.

The CEOs of both Redmond Regional Medical Center and Floyd Medical Center gave updates on local COVID-19 hospitalizations during Wednesday’s joint meeting.

According to John Quinlivan, Redmond currently has six COVID-19 patients.  Three are in critical care, one is on a ventilator, but all are in stable condition.

Quinlivan added that the average age is 61.  The average age was 80 back when the pandemic first began.

He did add the ICU is currently at 80% capacity, with mostly non-COVID patients.

Meanwhile, Kurt Stuenkel said there are 23 COVID patients at Floyd, three are on ventilators.

He did add those numbers change frequently.

Stuenkel added that for some reason, patients back in March were sicker than they are now.

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