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November 18, 2020: Coronavirus Community Call

• Coronavirus
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Before the national report, an announcement – We will not have the call next week, Wednesday, November 25, 2020.  We will resume the call on Wednesday, December 2, 2020.

Happy Thanksgiving!

National and/or State News Update-Ben Moser

Ben gave the following updates concerning the coronavirus that causes COVID-19:

New York Times: 
  • At least 1,583 new coronavirus deaths and 159,508 new cases were reported in the United States on November 17. Over the past week, there has been an average of 158,265 cases per day, an increase of 79 percent from the average two weeks earlier.
  • As of Wednesday morning, more than 11,439,000 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 248,400 have died, according to a New York Times database.
  • In 50 states and territories, including Alabama and Georgia, new cases are higher and staying high
  • In 2 states and territories new cases are lower but going up
  • In 3 states and territories cases are lower and staying low
Elevated Issue of Local Concern or Awareness-Ben Moser
  • And for the elevated issue this morning, a reminder to remain vigilant, wear your mask, social distance and be aware of overcrowding enclosed and/or poorly ventilated spaces. And please everyone be safe over the Thanksgiving holiday
  • From Health.com
  • With the holidays fast approaching, party season is just around the corner. But as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise across the US, the director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) just warned about a worrisome source of infection spread small gatherings, especially in household settings.
  • “In the public square, we’re seeing a higher degree of vigilance and mitigation steps in many jurisdictions,” Robert Redfield, MD, said during a call with the nation’s governors on Tuesday, per CNN, describing small household gatherings as “the increasing threat. “Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, we think it’s really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting,” Dr. Redfield said during the call.
  • What is a small gathering, exactly?
  • Though Dr. Redfield specifically warned against small gatherings, the CDC hasn’t put a specific number to “small.” Nor has it put a limit on, or recommended, a set number of guests for gatherings that would be considered safe or low risk. However, the CDC recently issued guidance to help keep people safe while socializing during the holidays, and the advice applies to casual meetups of any kind at any time of the year.
  • The CDC’s guidelines on socializing during COVID-19
  • Before you host or attend a gathering, it’s important to assess the risks. First of all, indoor gatherings generally pose more risk than outdoor ones. And indoor gatherings with poor ventilation—such as a space with no windows, or closed doors—put you at a higher risk than those with good ventilation.
  • Shunling Tsang, MD, MPH, medical director for ambulatory quality and vice chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Riverside University Health System in California, advises avoiding indoor gatherings altogether. “If there is a need for a small gathering, it should be held outdoors with social distancing, [and] strict adherence to mask wearing and to local and state public health guidelines,” Dr. Tsang tells Health. “Indoor gatherings can pose additional challenges with air circulation and ability to socially distance, so it is best to avoid these altogether if possible.”
  • Also crucial is the duration of the gathering. Basically, the more time you spend with other people, the greater the risk of contracting COVID-19. So shorter gatherings, like inviting a few friends over for a drink, are optimal over longer ones, such as dinner parties.
  • The CDC also warns that gatherings with people traveling from different places are riskier than those with people who live in the same area. The levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the location of the gathering matter as well. “If you live in an area with a high level of community transmission (looking at the county’s case rate and positivity rate), there is a higher risk of COVID-19 spread during gatherings,” Dr. Tsang notes.

Economic Sector and Impact Area Updates

Columbus Consolidated Government Update-Mayor Skip Henderson

Mayor Henderson gave the following updates:

  • Columbus continues to outperform other areas as far as the number of positive cases. This is attributed to the people of this community and their compliance to safety guidelines.
  • Winter and the holidays will be a challenge as more people are drawn indoors and people are becoming weary of the pandemic.
  • Local numbers are still pretty good. Hospitalizations are staying in the 40-45 range of COVID-19 diagnosed patients.
  • Daily rates have stayed manageable. Fifteen is the rolling 7-day average.
  • The city has been monitoring the threshold that the governor assigned for allowing local governments to exercise their discretion whether to require a mask ordinance or a mask mandate.
  • The numbers dropped off several weeks ago and the city has been monitoring them. The numbers are back above the threshold and tomorrow will be day 14 that the city anticipates the number being above 100 per 100,000. It is the Mayor’s intention tomorrow, to begin to enforce the mask mandate again.
  • The city has looked at the trends dating back to when the ordinance and the mandate was first implemented. The city has shown a steady decrease in cases from a high of 400 per 100,000 individuals down to as low as 70 per 100,000 individuals. The numbers are now back up to 115-120 per 100,000 individuals.
  • Some of the city’s recreation centers are still closed and all senior centers are still closed. The natatorium is operating at a reduced capacity level.
  • The city is evaluating whether to and how to reopen the Britt David Pottery Studio.
  • The Mayor wished everyone a safe, enjoyable and scaled down Thanksgiving.
Muscogee County School District Update-Dr. David Lewis

Dr. Lewis gave the following updates:

  • Thankful for everyone’s support of the school district during the pandemic.
  • The school district is continuing with the Choice Model. Any declarations of exceptions are due from parents by noon on Tuesday, December 8, 2020. These declarations will be good for the remainder of the year, the entire second semester.
  • Encouraged by the number of positive cases, isolations and quarantines being kept at a reasonable range.
  • Fortunately, the district has not had to close any schools. This can be attributed to the mask wearing policy within the district and guideline compliance in our community.
  • Biggest concerning is the upcoming holidays with families visiting each other and gathering in large groups and the ramifications going forward.
  • The school district is continuing to meet with health experts on a regular basis and will continue to monitor local conditions. 
Feeding the Valley Update-Frank Sheppard

Frank gave the following updates:

  • Food distribution tomorrow in Randolph County, Georgia at the Enrichment Services Center. Distribution begins at 10:00am. They will have food for 800 families.
  • Normal monthly food distribution in Muscogee County, Georgia will be held at the Columbus Civic Center on Saturday, November 21 beginning at 10:00am for Georgia residents only.
  • There will be a bonus distribution in partnership with the Columbus Consolidated Government on Monday, November 23 also at the Columbus Civic Center. This will be for Georgia and Alabama residents. Even if residents attend on Saturday, November 21, they can return on Monday, November 23 for additional commodities. 
  • Normal monthly food distribution in Russell County, Alabama at the Central Activity Center in Phenix City on the fourth Saturday will be moved from Saturday, November 28 to Wednesday, November 25 due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Distribution begins at 10:00am. This is for Alabama residents only.
  • For additional information please visit the Feeding the Valley Facebook page, website at feedingthevalley.org or call 706-561-4755.
St. Francis-Emory Healthcare Update-Melody Trimble

Melody gave the following updates:

  • Reminder to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday but to remain vigilant in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
  • Hospitalization rate is staying status quo.  Better in some areas, worse in others.
  • The hospital is open to those who need them, and the hospital continues working with the community to make a difference.
  • Thanked the community for their support of the hospital and the privilege to serve the community.  
Home for Good/United Way Update-Pat Frey
  • Continuum of Care-Housing Navigation and Landlord Engagement Meeting, Tuesday, December 1, 2020, 3:00pm EST
    • Meeting ID: 898 7097 3958
    • Passcode: 598640
  • Our community has been chosen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to participate in an initiative in January for the unsheltered Point in Time Count.
Grants/Projects Update-Betsy Covington

Betsy gave the following updates:

  • No new grants to report this week. Several are in the works. Stay tuned.
  • Grants awarded to date total $1,234,384. This is a tribute to the generosity of this community.
  • For details on grant awards, how to donate to the fund or how agencies can apply for assistance go to cfcv.com/coronavirus

Making Connections (Open Forum)

United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley Board Member Update- Gwen Ruff

Gwen Ruff gave the following updates via email:

  • Women of Destiny Clothing Giveaway for Women affected by COVID-19. Please see the attached link from WTVM for details.


SafeHouse Ministries Update-Neil Richardson

Neil gave the following updates:

  • SafeHouse Ministries has a surplus of cloth masks and personal size bottles of hand sanitizer if anyone is in need.
  • Please contact Eric at the SafeHouse by calling 706-322-3773 or contact Neil via email at nrichardson@columbusga.org
Valley Healthcare Update-Sarah Lang

Sarah gave the following updates:

  • Valley Healthcare is proud to have become a partner with the COVID19 Healthcare Resilience Working Group which is a part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
  • As a partner, Valley Healthcare has been partnered with the Phenix City Housing Authority. The purpose of this project is to increase flu shot coverage for high risk residents in Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) assisted communities.
  • Sarah can be reached at 706-987-8330 for additional information or questions.

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