School virus quarantines, local cases spike

  • virus

Nearly 100 students in Hart County have been quarantined for possible exposure to the novel coronavirus, as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise locally and statewide.
The Hart County Charter System saw a sizeable increase this week in the number of students quarantined, 96, for possible exposure to the virus as it reported five students and four employees had a positive COVID-19 status as of Tuesday. Nine employees have also been quarantined for possible exposure.
A little more than a week ago, the system reported one student was positive for the virus and 16 were quarantined for possible exposure.
Superintendent Jay Floyd said he couldn’t specify which schools in the system have seen surges.
“We’ve had some spikes,” Floyd said. “All it takes is one to have possible contact with several people and that’s what makes the number go up.”
Preventing the spread of the virus has been a priority for the administration, Floyd said.
“It’s pretty intense on a daily basis trying to keep up  with the contact tracing and trying to prevent a spread,” Floyd said. “That’s what we do. We spend 90 percent of our time trying to prevent those things from happening.”
The number of cumulative cases in Hart County, considered to be a “high transmission” county by the DPH, rose to 655 as of Monday with another death reported this week to bring the total local death toll to 20 since the Department of Public Health began reporting the data in March. There have been 51 new cases reported in the last two weeks in Hart County. There were 34 active cases as of Wednesday morning.
The testing percent positivity rate, which can indicate the level of community spread, was 14 percent in Hart County between Nov. 7 and Nov. 13, an increase of two percent from the previous week.
The spike locally comes as Gov. Brian Kemp announced Friday he is extending coronavirus-driven social distancing and sanitization restrictions for businesses, gatherings and long-term elderly care facilities in Georgia.
Kemp has signed an executive order, effective at midnight Nov. 16 and running through the end of the month, leaving the current set of restrictions in place.
“As COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations rise across the country, (Georgia Commissioner of Public Health) Dr. (Kathleen) Toomey and I are asking Georgians to remain vigilant in our fight against COVID-19,” the governor said.
The latest order keeps in place a ban on gatherings larger than 50 people in Georgia and continues to make wearing a mask voluntary at the statewide level rather than mandatory. Cities and counties have been allowed to impose their own mask mandates since August so long as their local requirements do not apply to businesses and residences.
Statewide, there have been more than 387,000 infections reported and 8,471 confirmed deaths from the virus as of Monday, according to the DPH.
Dave Williams with Capitol Beat News Service contributed to this report.