For information on COVID-19 and resources for Stephens County, click here.

Stephens County Local Resources

With the continued spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we feel it’s important to provide you with updates and resrouces to support and keep safe our community.  Our important work in Toccoa-Stephens County continues, and the SCDA staff will continue to work, be it in the office or remotely, to serve our members during this challenging time. We will limit non-essential interaction between members and are taking this situation day-by-day.

The Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce and Mainstreet Toccoa have provided a list of resources, restaurants serving take-out and curbside srevice, business resrources. Click on the buttons below to visit their websites.

 

 

 

Economic Resources During COVID-19 

 

 

Stay Informed

 

GLOBAL

 

FEDERAL

 

The CDC has developed interim guidance for businesses and employers:  CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers:  How to Plan, Prepare and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019.

 

STATE

 

LOCAL

 

Currently, the Georgia Department of Health has reported Five Hundred Sixty Six (566)) confirmed positive cases and ten (10) reported deaths for Stephens County.

Today, August 7, 2020

The statistics for Stephens County Hospital....

Tested:4,184 Individuals

Positive Cases: 807 (632 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple ocasions.)

Negative Cases: 3,323

Pending Results: 54

  • Currently, the Stephens County Hospital has 6 patients with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19 and 4 others awaiting results.
  •  

The statistics for the NGPG Toccoa Clinic....

Tested: 870

Positive Cases: 124

Negative Cases: 675

Pending Results: 10

Toccoa Clinic only releases their numbers on Monday of each week.
 

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Why is the total of Stephens County Hospital's plus the NGPC Toccoa Clinic's number of cases different than the Georgia Department of Health?

A: The Stephens County Hospital and the NGPG Toccoa Clinic only provides information on cases treated at their facility. The Georgia Deparment of Health reports on all residents of Stephens County. For example, if a Stephens County resident tests positive at a hospital outside of Stephens County, the Georgia Department of Health will include the case in the Stephens County statistic, however, the Stephens County Hospital plus the NGPG Toccoa Clinic will not.

 

Q: What is the Govenernor's Shelter in Place Order?

A: Governor Brian Kemp has issued a shelter-in-place order for the state of Georgia.

The order will be effective beginning Friday, April 3 at 6 p.m. and will expire Monday, April 13, at 11:59 p.m.

This order has been extended until Monday, April 30, at 11:59 p.m.

"Building on the previous order and directives we have issued, this order is a common sense, measured step forward to stop the spread of COVID-19," the governor said in a video posted to Facebook. "This order maintains social distancing directives and requires residents and visitors to our state to shelter in place in their homes or place of residence.

 

Q: How can I work from home?

A: In complying with CDC guidelines, you may be asked to work from home. Please refer to the articles below information for remote working tools.

 

Q: I was furloughed. Where can I find another job?

A: As businesses continue to adapt to the changing landscape, we understand that serveral situations will require employers to furlough employees. If you are in need of a job, please see the resource list below. Please do not hesitate to reach out to grocery (Ingles) and market stores (Walmart) to inquire about openings as they  are currently hiring to meet the new demands.

 

Q: Are tax filing dates extended?

A: FEDERAL: The deadlines to FILE and PAY federal income taxes are extended to July 15, 2020Visit IRS website.

STATE: The Georgia Department of Revenue is automatically extending the 2019 income tax filing and payment deadline to July 15, 2020Visit Georgia Department of Revenue website.

LOCAL: The Stephens County Tax Commissioner is not extending the filing deadline. The deadline remains April 15, 2020.

 

Q: How can I safely prepare my business for my employees in response to COVID-19?

A: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has resources to help employers and workers prepare for and respond to coronavirus in the workplace.

 

Q: I'm a federal contractor. What is the National Interest Exemption?

A: Following President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) today issued a National Interest Exemption memorandum to facilitate response efforts for COVID-19, also known as novel coronavirus.

Read the full press release.

 

Q: What is the SBA Economic Injurt Disater Loan and Paycheck Protection Program?

A: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, allocates $349 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the current circumstances they are encountering. The CARES Act provides funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, modifies the existing Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and provides immediate loan payment relief for current SBA 7(a) borrowers.

 

For more information and a comparison chart visit the UGA SBDC's Emergency Injury Disaster Loan website.

For more information on visit and download the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist.

 

Apply for the Loan Advance here.

 

Q: What is the CARES Act?

A:  The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a package of measures introduced in the U.S. Senate in March of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Takeaways

  • The CARES Act is an attempt at the federal level to address issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The act seeks to provide economic support to the business sector, employees, individuals, and families.
  • It also specifically addresses industries that have been impacted the most, including air transportation, health care, and education.

 

View and download the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's summary.

View and download the CARES Act Business Provisions Summary.

 

Q: I'm a manufacturer. How can I help?

A: Governor Kemp called for Georgia Manufacturers and Distributors to help with critical health care supply needs. If your business can provide, produce, distribute, store or quickly be re-purposed to create items included in the list of vital projects in the following form, we ask you to complete and submit it as soon as possible: https://www.georgia.org/covid19response

 

Q: I'm an employer. What is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?

A: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medial leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. 

Download these posters for distribution and posting at your company.

 

COVID-19: Daily Updates

Most weekdays we will post a summary of items which may be of value to our local industries:

August 7, 2020

1. School Superintendent Oldham has announced the start day for Big A Elementary School will be delayed
The start day for Pre-K and PREP will be postponed until August 17, 2020. Eight members of the Big A Elementary Pre-K staff have been sent home due to COVID-19 exposure. Kindergarten will be on its regularly scheduled state date of August 12, 2020. The school has scheduled extra sanitation by the maintenance department before the start date for Kindergarten.
 
2. COVID-19 apps and wearables are everywhere. Can they actually benefit patients?
Here are a few questions to ask when trying to differentiate between empty promises and valuable tools.
Is it providing information specific to Covid-19?
Plenty of apps designed to monitor vital signs can accurately detect a fever and changes in respiration, but that’s not the same thing as correctly diagnosing Covid-19. “You have to have some type of symptoms in order for us to pick anything up,” John A. Rogers, a biomedical engineer at Northwestern University said. “If you’re completely asymptomatic we’re not going to be able to see it. This is not a molecular scale test.” That’s not to say it can’t be helpful for other purposes. The wearable, which is experimental and has not been approved by regulators, is also being used to monitor symptoms in hospitalized patients. In one case, Rogers said, it flagged periods where a patient was experiencing a dangerous heart arrhythmia. It also picked up respiratory interruptions at night, helping providers spot signs of sleep apnea.
Is the product targeted toward a particular population?
A major shortcoming of most wearables is that they are deployed in populations with very low risk of developing the problem they are designed to detect. The Apple Watch, for example, is often used by young, healthy people unlikely to benefit from its ability to detect the heart arrhythmia known as atrial fibrillation. In Covid-19, that means many symptom tracking apps meant to flag the onset of illness in broad populations are likely to flag perceived problems that don’t amount to much. This results in a low positive predictive value, or the probability that a subject who tests positive truly has the illness. However, the problem of false positives is mitigated in higher-risk populations, such as people who live in nursing homes or whose immune systems are compromised. In those defined user groups, it is helpful to provide caregivers with alerts about sudden changes in vital signs or a fever, because those are more likely to be associated with medical emergencies.
Will having the information support better care?
Apps and wearables can collect massive amounts of biological data from patients. But that doesn’t mean the information is going to be helpful to doctors who are trying to treat them. A Covid-19 symptom tracker developed earlier this year by researchers at King’s College London, Harvard University and Stanford compiled symptoms reported by more than 2.6 million people, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, and loss of taste and smell. While the researchers are hopeful that the smartphone app can help inform individuals of their risks, and potentially flag infection hot spots, they are not arguing that it would significantly improve the care of infected patients. That’s because it’s not clear that providing that information, through this app or another, will help doctors triage patients or change the way they are treating them. 
You can read more in the STAT article
 
3. What Astronauts Can Teach Us about Working Remotely
What happens to teamwork during extended periods of isolation and confinement? While that sounds like a question tailored for much of today’s housebound workforce, it’s actually a research topic that professors Noshir Contractor and Leslie DeChurch have studied in an entirely different context: space travel. As reported in an IndustryWeek article, here are some insights that workers and leaders can use to help remote teams function cohesively:
  • Astronauts are acutely aware of their organization’s lofty goals and how their own individual efforts fit into that. So even when the task is mundane—such as practicing putting away tools one more time—they have a clear sense of how that work fits into the bigger picture.
  • Be aware of the “third-quarter phenomenon,” the idea that teams, whether on football fields or space stations, tend to see slumps in mood and motivation in the third quarter. So team leaders need to manage those slumps, perhaps by offering more support, introducing new routines, or weaving in some light-hearted moments where humor can help restore people’s energies. But, in the midst of a continuing crisis like COVID-19, how do you know when the third quarter has arrived? After all, few remote workers know when their offices or their children’s schools will reopen. Researcher DeChurch says this unknown actually doesn’t matter that much. “If we don’t have [a timeline] we make one up in our minds and we use those as a way to pace ourselves,” he says. DeChurch explains that leaders need to recognize the importance of having the whole team working on the same clock, even if it’s “a manufactured clock, and to recognize explicitly when it needs to be changed.” This could mean working toward a particular re-opening goal, even if it ends up needing to be pushed back. At least that way the full team knows what the timeline is and will sync up their “quarters” accordingly.
  • Another lesson from space: crews do not like being micromanaged remotely. Contractor told the story of the U.S. Skylab crew, which in 1974 rebelled against mission control. “The crew was so completely frustrated with the structured tasks they were given,” Contractor says, that they simply shut off communication with mission control for a period of time. “It’s referred to as the first mutiny in space, or the first strike in space.” The issue, DeChurch says, is that leaders and their team members can “have misaligned needs” when working remotely. Leaders want to regain some of the control that they’ve lost in not being able to see work being done, while their staff want a sense of autonomy in their work, which makes it feel more meaningful to them. “It’s important to recognize that this discord can happen,” she says.
4. What Is the Coronavirus?
The WIRED magazine in-house Know-It-Alls  answer your questions. Here are a couple of examples:
How can I avoid catching the coronavirus?
Wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands. You get the point. Clean all of your tech equipment. Just like your hands, your smartphone and keyboard and headphones and anything else gets germs on it. If you're in a high-risk group (over 60, have preexisting lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, or a weakened immune system) you should seek treatment if you get sick, since it can quickly go from cough to full-blown pneumonia. Call your doctor or clinic first with your suspicions so they can direct you appropriately. If you're not in a high-risk group, better to self-isolate at home with plenty of fluids and anti-fever meds. Odds are you'll recover, and this way you won't expose anyone. Still call your doctor, so they know what's going on—they may be able to direct you to people at the health department who can conduct testing. Don't go to the ER unless you're really experiencing life-threatening symptoms.
Q: Is Covid-19 more deadly than the flu?
That remains to be seen. According to preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 2019–2020 flu caused 19 million to 25 million illnesses and up to 25,000 deaths. The Covid-19 numbers are harder to calculate because it’s not yet clear how many people are infected. The CDC calculates the death rate at about 2 percent, which is higher than the flu—but the real number might be a lot lower, because less-severe cases may not have been reported. People with more mild cases might not even go to the hospital, and health care workers might have mistaken cases for the flu or for pneumonia. If epidemiologists count only the most severe cases, the death rate will look higher because a higher proportion of those patients die—so that might not offer an accurate reflection of reality. The biggest difference between the two types of infection is that the health system is better prepared to fight the flu. It comes every year and, while some strains are more severe than others, doctors know how to treat and prevent it. Covid-19 is uncharted territory, because scientists have so many questions about how it spreads, and there isn’t a vaccine for it.

5. Distilleries raced to make hand sanitizer for the pandemic. No longer.
This New Your Times article reports that even though coronavirus cases have surged again, craft distilleries say the business of making the disinfectant has become more difficult. The more than 800 craft distillers across the United States who leapt into action to help in the first wave of the pandemic are now hesitant to invest more time and money into those efforts. With demand for sanitizer fluctuating, distillers have faced unforeseen costs and excess supplies that they could not get rid of. What had been a no-brainer good Samaritan decision to help local communities and nurture a new business has instead devolved into a messy financial calculus as the hardships of the crisis continue piling up. Distillers have also had to deal with equipment problems. The F.D.A.’s sanitizer guidelines require distillers to add a bittering agent like the compound Bitrex to ensure people don’t try to drink the finished product. Bitrex is so strong that any distillery equipment used to make sanitizer was ruined.
 
6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of five hundred eighty-eight (588) confirmed positive cases and twelve (12) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 4,184
Positive Results Received: 807 (632 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,323
Pending Results: 54

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 6 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 4 others who are hospitalized pending test results.
COVID-19 Testing Resources Information:
• Department of Public Health COVID-19 Hotline: 844-442-2681
• Stephens County Health Department: 706-282-4507

Testing Locations (by appointment):
• Franklin County Health Dept: 706-384-5575
• Habersham County Health Dept: 706-778-7156
• Hall County Health Dept: 770-531-5600

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 870
Positive Results: 124
Negative Results: 675
Pending Results: 10
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.
 
7. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@scda.biz.

 

August 6, 2020

1. Nine tips for starting school during a pandemic
This Tampa Bay (Florida) Times article does not match in every respect our own situation, but it shares a list that was gleaned from interviews, school district materials, advice from educators and child psychologists, crowd-sourced input and more than a dozen years’ experience assembling back-to-school information for Tampa Bay Florida families. I hope this is helpful.
1. Stay informed. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that conditions can change quickly. Checking your school district’s website, signing up for district notifications or joining a school-related Facebook group can help you stay on top of things.
2. Leave the great mask debate behind. Masks are required on buses and inside school buildings, period. Tampa Bay area districts will give out free ones to help families comply. Students will get “mask breaks.” But, in general, the expectation to wear a mask will be strong.
3. Take two. On the topic of masks, give your child two for the school day, in case the first one gets lost or dirty. At home, leave containers at the door for clean and dirty masks. Experts advise washing cloth masks after every use.
4. Answer questions. When children want to know something about the pandemic, make time to address their concerns honestly. Having the information will give them a feeling of control and reduce fear. The National Association of School Psychologists has a COVID-19 resource center on its website, nasponline.org. It offers a wealth of information on how to care for and talk to kids during this time. Among their tips: explain social distancing, stay positive, keep a daily routine.
5. Give them space. If your child is going to school online and doesn’t need special accommodations, try not to hover or help them with their work. To struggle and make mistakes is to learn.
6. Test your packaging. For young children who bring lunch to school, practice opening the packaging. If cafeteria staff have to help with hard-to-open items, that’s more touching that nobody needs right now.
7. Stay attuned to your child’s mental health. Assistance is out there, starting with school district help lines and websites.
8. Get involved. If you’re not a parent who typically engages with your child’s school, now could be a good time to start. Staying in regular contact with teachers is more important than ever, whether your child is going to back to campus or learning online.
9. This won’t be perfect. No matter what. Tell yourself that right now, and know a little patience can go a long way. Everyone is making do and pushing through to a better day.
 
2. We need more than "happy talk" to chase pandemic moods
The stress and frustration we feel after six months of pandemic life make for bad moods -- especially at work. It will take more than just positive sentiments to turn our frowns upside down. Find yourself snapping at co-workers? Make sure you're getting enough rest and try to focus on helping others. If you're leading a team that's more grump than go right now, make sure you're investing in your staff -- and encouraging them to take time for themselves as well. Full Story: Forbes (7/30),  Harvard Business Review online (tiered subscription model) (8/3) 

3. Four Employee Benefit Ideas to Help Parents This School Year
This Inc. magazine article offers some practical ways you can support staff members who are balancing work with kids and remote schooling:
Update Your Work At Home Policies
It is always a good idea to get clear on expectations. Discuss responsibilities, reporting and what you expect out of each team member and department during this transition. If you took the time to hire the right people, I bet you will be pleasantly surprised how the majority of your staff will actually exceed your expectations.
Switch Up Your Work Week
This will vary based on your industry, but many business owners are looking at alternative work schedules as an option for working parents. Many parents are scrambling to find child care or are faced with leaving their kids at home. Offering them the option to work from home, or to make up hours during the evening or on a weekend, would go a long way to easing their stress during this difficult situation. You could also consider doing a meeting audit, where you review all the standing meetings you have scheduled and see how you could streamline and shorten the ones that are truly necessary. Talk to your employees and find out what their schooling situation will look like in the fall and then brainstorm together how to make it work for the both of you.
Give Your Employees (and Their Kids) The Tools They Need to Be Successful
None of us planned to do virtual learning this fall, and many of your employees may be nervous about how they are going to manage working full time and teaching their kids from home. Here's an example, a year of the video game Prodigy Math is less than $60 a year and would allow team members to give their kids a fun learning activity that they could do while their parents are on a Zoom call.  Or maybe offer a monthly stipend for Outschool classes so that their kids could stay engaged and learning while at home. You could also offer up a bonus to help your employees cover supplies or learning materials. A little bit of investment will go a long way to helping them be successful this school year.
Give Them a Boost
If your employees are working from home, consider offering to pay $25 or maybe $50 extra a month to use towards their internet bill. This can be really helpful for team members that had to upgrade their service plan to accommodate multiple family members working and schooling from home at the same time. Supporting your team members with children this fall doesn't have to cost a lot, but will go a long way in terms of relationship building and easing the stress and anxiety of the situation.

4. How Data Analytics Is Helping Universities Restart Sports
As schools across the nation deliberate over restarting collegiate sports in the fall, this EdTech magazine article offers a look at how data-driven approaches can keep student-athletes safe on campus — and revolutionize the game. In addition to following the NCAA’s official guidelines on how to safely restart college sports, schools including Oregon State University are using data to not only optimize athletic programs but also to create COVID-19 screening tools that can protect student-athletes as campuses reopen. OSU’s IT department recently used Microsoft’s PowerApps, SharePoint, Office 365, and Power BI to develop an application that is assisting with COVID-19 screening and contact tracing for OSU’s student-athletes.
The screening consists of daily self-assessments in which student-athletes complete a comprehensive questionnaire that asks if they experienced any COVID-19 symptoms in the past 24 hours. Athletes can fill out the questionnaire from their phones or computers. After submitting the survey, athletes will receive an instant automated email with a QR code that confirms whether they can report to campus for additional screening. As athletes arrive on campus, they show the QR code linked with their survey results to gain access to facilities. An administrator can also easily scan the QR code with an iPhone camera. The data that the Power BI dashboard generates can notify universities and colleges of outbreaks as soon as one occurs. It can also support contact tracing. Not surprisingly, OSU’s contactless solution has gained traction from schools across the nation.
Learn about these emerging technologies for tracking COVID-19 in higher ed.  

 
5. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of five hundred seventy-nine (579) confirmed positive cases and eleven (11) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 4,184
Positive Results Received: 807 (632 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,323
Pending Results: 54

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 6 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 4 others who are hospitalized pending test results.
COVID-19 Testing Resources Information:
• Department of Public Health COVID-19 Hotline: 844-442-2681
• Stephens County Health Department: 706-282-4507

Testing Locations (by appointment):
• Franklin County Health Dept: 706-384-5575
• Habersham County Health Dept: 706-778-7156
• Hall County Health Dept: 770-531-5600

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 870
Positive Results: 124
Negative Results: 675
Pending Results: 10
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.
 
6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@scda.biz.

 

August 5, 2020

1. Broadband Speedtest by Ookla
“Internet connectivity is, hands down, the greatest challenge we face in the transition to distance learning in Georgia,” says Richard Wood, Georgia state school superintendent. That is why the Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative is conducting the Speedtest by Ookla pilot project statewide through August. This project will give Georgia’s school leaders a clear picture of students’ internet access for the upcoming year. We need more local participants, especially in unserved and underserved areas of Stephens County! Georgians are encouraged to download the free Ookla Speedtest app (Android or iOS-Apple) to the various devices that they use to connect to the internet (smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers) and take several tests in the places where connectivity is important to them. Is your home internet too slow? Do you lose a cellphone signal when you are walking around in your home? Can you get videos on your smartphone, but it takes a long time to download? Then WE NEED YOU! Take a Speedtest and help internet service providers and mobile phone carriers know where Georgians need better connectivity. Download the Speedtest app and click “Go.” If using your computer, visit speedtest.net and click “Go.” Your connection quality at that specific location is collected safely and anonymously by Ookla. This information will be used to help determine where improved service should be provided.

2. Workforce Will Look a Lot Different After COVID Fallout Say CEOs
A new Conference Board survey of 1,300 CEOs and C-Suite executives finds that companies will be using more contract and gig workers and fewer permanent staff. Both the makeup and structure of the workforce has dramatically changed as companies figure out how to operate in a world affected by COVID-19. While some changes are temporary, others look to be permanent. Additionally, more flexible hours will be part of a company’s strategy to adapt to new working arrangements. Remote working will continue and, in many cases, become permanent. All of these changes will create leaner organizations, which will be a legacy of the pandemic. 
As for when revenue will return to pre-pandemic levels, survey respondents predict that won’t happen within the next year. More than 40% predict a U-shaped recovery, with more sustainable growth resuming by Q4 2020. About a third expect an L-shaped recovery, with sustained growth resuming only in late 2021. 
Executives also say they will accelerate their digital transformation plans and rethink business models. However, executives aren't all that worried about their supply chains. Only 10% see supply chain restructuring as a significant long-term impact.

3. Manufacturing Marks a Second Month of Virus Recovery
This IndustryWeek article summarizes a recent ISM report. 
The outlook for manufacturing continued to recover through July as the Institute for Supply Management reported a second month of manufacturing growth and a third month of growth for the economy overall. The ISM’s Pricing Manager’s Index increased to 54.2%, up 1.6 points from June’s PMI. Indexes for new orders, production, prices, and order backlogs all increased. The employment index also increased, but remained below 50%, indicating a slower contraction. Imports and new export orders indexes moved into growth territory in July. The index of new orders rose to 61.5% in July, up 5.1 points from June, as the production index rose 4.8 points to 62.1%. The manufacturing PMI as well as the new orders and production indexes are all rising at a faster rate compared to last month. The rate of contraction in the manufacturing workforce slowed in July as the index for manufacturing employment rose 2.2 points to 44.3% in July. The indexes for order backlogs, new export orders, and imports all reversed June trends and moved into growth territory: the backlog of orders index rose 6.5 points to 51.8%, new export orders rose 2.8 points to 50.4%, and imports rose 4.3 points to 53.1%.
Some respondents still displayed the hesitant optimism of the June ISM survey. A fabricated metal products CEO wrote that while demand for the coming months was stabilizing, customers were not confident in forecasts for recovery. The least hopeful response came from a transportation equipment executive, who reported that business was still down by nearly 70%. “We are hanging on to as many employees as possible, but we will have to lay off 30% or more for at least two to three months until September or October,” they wrote. In commodities, aluminum, copper, crude oil, diesel fuel, high-density polyethylene, lumber, oil-based products, plastic products, polypropylene, and precious metals all rose in price as steel and diesel fuel fell. In another wrinkle demonstrating how the coronavirus outbreak was still impacting manufacturing processes, commodities listed as “in short supply” included masks, gloves, and sanitizers and disinfectants. PPE in general has now been in short supply for 3 months running, and protective gloves have been harder to come by for 5 months.

4. Census Cuts All Counting Efforts Short By A Month
The U.S. Census Bureau is ending all counting efforts for the 2020 census on Sept. 30, a month sooner than previously announced, the bureau's director confirmed Monday in a 
statement. That includes critical door-knocking efforts and collecting responses online, over the phone and by mail. The latest updates to the bureau's plans are part of efforts to "accelerate the completion of data collection and apportionment counts by our statutory deadline of December 31, 2020, as required by law and directed by the Secretary of Commerce" who oversees the bureau, Director Steven Dillingham said in the written statement posted on the bureau's website. Employers, please encourage your employees to self-respond to the 2020 Census. This constitutionally mandated count of every person living in the U.S. is used to determine the distribution of political representation and federal funding for the next decade.
 
5. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of five hundred sixty-six (566) confirmed positive cases and ten (10) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 4,115
Positive Results Received: 789 (619 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,276
Pending Results: 50

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 9 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 6 others who are hospitalized pending test results.
COVID-19 Testing Resources Information:
• Department of Public Health COVID-19 Hotline: 844-442-2681
• Stephens County Health Department: 706-282-4507

Testing Locations (by appointment):
• Franklin County Health Dept: 706-384-5575
• Habersham County Health Dept: 706-778-7156
• Hall County Health Dept: 770-531-5600

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 870
Positive Results: 124
Negative Results: 675
Pending Results: 10
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.
 
6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@scda.biz.

 

August 4, 2020

1. State orders reopening temporary hospital at Georgia World Congress Center due to surge in Covid-19 patients
I mentioned yesterday that a temporary hospital is being reopened at the Georgia World Congress Center as coronavirus-related hospitalizations reach new records across the state. I did not mention that our own local industry ASI Global Partitions built the partitions for that facility as well as the temporary hospitals in other convention centers around the United States. Gov. Brian Kemp announced July 31 that a 120-bed facility to treat Covid-19 patients would open at the GWCC on Monday, Aug. 3, and immediately house an initial surge of 60 beds to “provide relief to surrounding health care facilities.” Grady Memorial Hospital will serve as the lead hospital for clinical oversight for the 120-bed facility. The governor's decision to reopen a facility at GWCC comes after many hospitals have reported in recent weeks that they are reaching capacity of Covid-19 patients or being forced to divert patients to other facilities due to the rising infections. A 200-bed temporary hospital at GWCC was opened in April in anticipation of hospitals being overwhelmed but it was closed after about one month.
 
2. 5 tips for managing an under performer — remotely
This summary is taken from a Harvard Business Review article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. 
While a majority of employers believe that their employees will return to their workplaces after COVID-19’s impact diminishes, working from home isn’t going to disappear. 
REVISIT YOUR EXPECTATIONS: Take the opportunity to reconsider what you want most from the employee, and why you feel you’re not getting it. Start by reviewing your recent directives, and whether your communications about what’s expected have been clear and consistent from the beginning. 
LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR UNDER-PERFORMERS: It’s important to ask about their goals and what they care about, as these things change as circumstances evolve. If you’re not familiar with your employees’ remote setup and schedule, ask. 
LEVEL WITH THEM, AND BE SPECIFIC: Many people who aren’t doing well have a vague feeling that something is wrong, but don’t really know which of their behaviors aren’t working. Give examples. The feedback gives him the opportunity to actively practice in order to modify those behaviors.
HELP THEM LEARN HOW TO IMPROVE THEIR OWN PERFORMANCE: Use questions to encourage your under-performers to self-diagnose and project into their own future. Ask something like: “How will this experience set you up to do better in the future?” Encourage them to reach their own conclusions, rather than telling them what you have observed, which wouldn’t trigger the same kind of “aha” that self-discovery does. 
STAY IN CLOSE ENOUGH CONTACT: It’s on you as a manager to stay in regular touch and keep employees in the loop. Schedule regular meetings to talk about your under-performers’ progress. 
It’s not easy to work with remote employees who aren’t performing well, particularly when you can’t sit down together and have a conversation. But using specific, road-tested techniques to help them improve will strengthen not only their performance, but their relationship with you as well.
 
3. How to Make Your Video Calls Look and Sound Better - Natural light is your friend. Audio feedback is your worst enemy
This WIRED article offers some important tips:
Improve Your Lighting
Max Rosen, CEO of Indigo Productions, suggests natural light is often best. “I often recommend facing a window to get soft, even light on your face.” If you don’t have windows, choose another light source and put it behind your screen. Even a desk lamp properly pointed can provide some much needed light. Consider a ring light. Get on a Zoom call with a couple of friends and try a few things out to see what looks good. Maybe you find your desk lamp looks better reflecting off the wall than pointed directly at your face, for example—it’s hard to know unless you have time to play with your setup.
Adjust Your Camera
You want your camera at eye level, facing you head-on—so stack your laptop on a couple of books if you need to elevate it. “Frame yourself to show your head and shoulders,” says Rosen, “and make sure the top of your head is at the top of the frame.” If your computer’s built-in camera is low quality, a USB model may help you get a better-looking image, too. If you’re using a phone, you have a few extra considerations. Make sure it’s in a horizontal orientation, since that’s better suited to the computer screens your colleagues are probably using. And try to rest it on a stand—again, at eye level—rather than holding it, so you don’t have shaky video. If you’re giving a presentation and have notes written down, try to stick those bullet points by your camera, so you aren’t constantly looking down at your desk.
Look the Part
Rosen stresses the importance of your own appearance and body language. Wear clothes you know you look good in, and that aren’t the same color as your background—you don’t want to blend in, which is remarkably easy in a compressed video feed sent over the internet. Avoid busy, repeating patterns—like thin stripes or small plaid. And for heaven’s sake, wash your face—don’t let the sweat from your workout turn you into a shiny mess. “Remember you’re on camera,” Rosen says. “Smile, pay attention, don’t look all around the room. Think about where you place your camera, and where people are walking by. When something goes wrong—and it will eventually—try to go with the flow. Laugh it off, and don’t let it throw your game.”
Good Audio Is Crucial
People will watch crappy video, but they won’t listen to crappy audio. To start, make sure the room is quiet. If your family is home, let them know you have an important call, and mute your microphone when you aren’t talking. Use headphones. If you use your computer’s speakers, your colleagues will hear an echo of themselves talking. Earbuds are easier to hide and less visually distracting. Rosen also recommends an external microphone, or, depending on the situation, a lavalier microphone pinned to your lapel. Make sure you actually select that microphone in your video chat program of choice—usually through the audio settings—because your computer will probably default to the lower quality microphone on your webcam.
Keep a Strong Internet Connection
None of these tips will make a lick of difference if your internet connection is slow or unreliable. If you have an ethernet jack nearby, wire it up to your PC or laptop—you’ll get a much more stable connection than you will over Wi-Fi. If wireless is your only option, check out our guide to improving your Wi-Fi signal, and make sure no one else in the house is sucking up bandwidth with Netflix while you’re on an important call. And if all else fails, a standard phone call is a great fallback—video chat is great, but a reliable phone call is always preferable to a stuttery, low-quality videoconference.

 
4. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of five hundred sixty-one (561) confirmed positive cases and ten (10) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 4,115
Positive Results Received: 789 (619 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,276
Pending Results: 50

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 9 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 6 others who are hospitalized pending test results.
COVID-19 Testing Resources Information:
• Department of Public Health COVID-19 Hotline: 844-442-2681
• Stephens County Health Department: 706-282-4507

Testing Locations (by appointment):
• Franklin County Health Dept: 706-384-5575
• Habersham County Health Dept: 706-778-7156
• Hall County Health Dept: 770-531-5600

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 870
Positive Results: 124
Negative Results: 675
Pending Results: 10
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.
 
5. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@scda.biz.

 

August 3, 2020

1. Governor Kemp Extends Public Health State of Emergency, Renews COVID-19 Restrictions
Executive Order 07.31.20.01 extends the Public Health State of Emergency through 11:59 PM on September 10, 2020. The Public Health State of Emergency allows for enhanced coordination across government and the private sector for supply procurement, comprehensive testing, and healthcare capacity. By renewing the applicability of existing language, Executive Order 07.31.20.02 continues to require social distancing, bans gatherings of more than fifty people unless there is six feet between each person, outlines mandatory criteria for businesses, and requires sheltering in place for those living in long-term care facilities and the medically fragile, among other provisions. The order runs through 11:59 PM on August 15, 2020. 
Please find the press release from Governor Brian Kemp’s office announcing the new Executive Orders that extend through August 15, 2020 hereThere is a link to the Executive Orders at the end of the press release. 

2. Georgia World Congress Center Surge Beds to Re-Open on Monday
Governor Brian Kemp has announced that the Georgia World Congress Center is scheduled to reopen and begin receiving COVID-19 patients on Monday, August 3, 2020. With a total capacity of 120 beds, the facility will house an initial surge of 60 beds and increase based on need. 
Read the press release here.

3. How employers can reduce risk of Covid-related lawsuits
Legal concerns are looming large for employers during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has many companies walking a tightrope between resuming operations and ensuring safety in the workplace. This Birmingham Business Journal article covers advice from healthcare law practices. I am not an attorney, and you will want to get your own specific advice and counsel, but here are a few takeaways from the article:
 
“Physician practices and acute care facilities should provide full disclosure to their patients about risk and ensure they are meeting any Covid-related standards of care, including testing policies, procedures and PPP. In addition to implementing processes to protect your patients and employees, it is also vital to ensure they’re being followed. Take a close look at the practical implication on the ground and check that your operations match your policy.” Colin Luke, partner and Healthcare Practice Group Leader at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP

“The first thing is to stay current on the latest prevention strategies, from masks to social distancing to telecommuting, and to implement those strategies in a way that is best suited to your business. What works in a hospital setting may be very different from what is best in an office setting or a production facility … The same is true when implementing a return-to-work strategy – consider whether a phased-in plan will work for your business so as to minimize unnecessary exposure risks, and focus on the specific factors that increase or decrease your business’ risk profile.” William W. Horton, partner and Birmingham office head at Jones Walker LLP

“Because of many new and changing regulations, employers need to stay updated to ensure compliance. In addition, they must follow the recommended health guidelines to protect employees on the job, which will in turn reduce the risk of potential lawsuits.” James “Jim” Pool, health care practice group head at Maynard Cooper & Gale

“Employers should do their best to follow all applicable CDC and State Health Officer guidelines and act quickly if an employee tests positive for Covid-19. It is important for employers to show that they were not ‘negligent’ in addressing any risk to their employees’ health associated with the pandemic … Gov. Kay Ivey issued an executive order providing immunity for businesses and health care providers to protect them from lawsuits related to Covid-19. The immunity applies to a business or health care provider unless the injury is caused by the business’ or provider’s ‘wanton, reckless, willful or intentional misconduct’.” Howard Bogard, health care practice leader at Burr & Forman LLP

“Require workplace compliance with local and state orders requiring face coverings, social distancing and other safety measures; implement a Covid-19 workplace safety plan and communicate the plan to all employees; train employees on safety measures and how to report safety and health concerns internally; obtain employee acknowledgments of training and understanding of safety measures; investigate any reported employee concerns with appropriate documentation of the investigative process and outcome; educate managers, supervisors and human resources professionals on the relevant policies and steps to take if an employee expresses noncompliance concerns.” Jennifer H. Clark, partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

“Document in as many ways as possible steps the provider is taking to minimize the risk of exposure to patients, visitors and staff.” Phil Collins, partner at Huie Fernambucq & Stewart LLP
 
4. Consumers are still unsure about shopping at malls
As retailers take precautions to a new level to try to welcome shoppers safely back to stores, consumers are still wary of returning to bricks-and-mortar retail, a new survey of more than 1,200 people on July 10 from First Insight says:
80% of women said they don't feel comfortable trying on beauty products in stores, 
68% are unsure about trying on clothing
61% are unsure about trying on footwear.
32% of respondents said they're feeling unsafe about hitting the mall.  

The pressures have pushed a number of companies, many of which were already teetering before the Covid-19 crisis hit, into bankruptcy. Some 40 retailers, including J.Crew, J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, Brooks Brothers and Sur la Table, have filed for bankruptcy protection so far this year. Still, consumers appear to appreciate the safety measures that many companies are taking to make the shopping experience more secure and sanitized. A number of retailers including Walmart, Kroger, Kohl’s and J.C. Penney have recently started mandating some sort of facial covering be worn in their stores, as not all states have imposed their own overarching rules.
84% of people told First Insight that a face mask policy makes them feel safe in stores
71% said they find temperature checks important. 
11% said they feel unsafe visiting a grocer, down from 13% at the end of April, First Insight said.
17% said they feel unsafe shopping at a local retail boutique, down from 21%.

The fear is still rippling across the travel industry, too, which has its own implications for retail businesses located in airports or centered in densely populated tourist districts.
40% said in the poll that they would wait at least a year to travel on a domestic flight, up 30% from April. 
51% said they are waiting at least 12 months to travel overseas. 
55% of people said they are waiting more than a year to go on a cruise ship again.

As of this past Friday, 5,439 permanent store closures have been announced by retailers in the U.S. so far this year, according to a tracking by Coresight Research. The firm is predicting that number could grow to 25,000 by the end of 2020. Here's a link to the full CNBC article.  

5. Visas Are Vital to US Competitiveness
Employers' access to highly educated foreign professionals holding a H-1B visa was limited by a White House announcement on June 22 that it would extend a ban on several kinds of new visas through the end of 2020. The move extends an executive order issued April 21 that banned new visas for 60 days and was set to expire the same day it was extended. The current annual statutory cap for H-1B visas is 65,000 visas, with 20,000 additional visas for foreign professionals who graduate with a master's degree or doctorate from a U.S. institution of higher learning. After the announcement was made a number of business groups including the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Retail Federation, TechNet and Intrax filed a lawsuit to oppose the White House actions. Here's a link to the IndustryWeek article.
 
6. Touchless Tech Tools Are Catching On 
Just a few months ago, touchless tools like app-controlled or voice-controlled doors, elevators and lighting seemed too fanciful or expensive for all but the highest-tiered Class-A luxury buildings, but the coronavirus has turned the commercial real estate industry's view of these amenities on its head. High cost is one of the greatest barriers for the Gesture Recognition and Touchless Sensing Market, according to a research report published by MarketsandMarkets. A local aspect of this story is our own local industry PTL Equipment, a leading provider of high-quality elevator & escalator products. The trend of using personal devices to access buildings is definitely picking up in the wake of the pandemicThere are ways to operate doors that will be biometric, or touchless, in the future.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of five hundred fifty-six (556) confirmed positive cases and ten (10) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 4,115
Positive Results Received: 789 (619 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,276
Pending Results: 50

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 9 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 6 others who are hospitalized pending test results.
COVID-19 Testing Resources Information:
• Department of Public Health COVID-19 Hotline: 844-442-2681
• Stephens County Health Department: 706-282-4507

Testing Locations (by appointment):
• Franklin County Health Dept: 706-384-5575
• Habersham County Health Dept: 706-778-7156
• Hall County Health Dept: 770-531-5600

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 870
Positive Results: 124
Negative Results: 675
Pending Results: 10
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.
 
8. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@scda.biz.

 

July 31, 2020

1. Governor Kemp faces a deadline for coronavirus restrictions
The AJC reports, since Gov. Brian Kemp signed his last coronavirus-related order into effect two weeks ago, Georgia has set new records for daily confirmed cases of the disease, the hospitalization rate has climbed, and federal health officials have urged the state to impose new restrictions. With the Executive Order set to expire today, Kemp has a decision to make: Extend rules that allow restaurants, bars and other businesses to remain open if they follow safety guidelines or revive stiffer restrictions aimed at containing the pandemic. We'll monitor this situation and get you the details on his decision ASAP.
 
2. Delta now requires customers to acknowledge mask agreement at check-in.
Customers who want to check in for Delta flights now must agree to wear protective face coverings for the duration. As part of the update, customers must pledge to wear masks throughout the airport, in Delta Sky Clubs and on board flights, and they must acknowledge that they have not had a Covid-19 diagnosis and to their knowledge have not been exposed to Covid-19 in the prior 14 days, nor have they experienced the onset of any one of the primary symptoms of Covid-19 in the prior 14 days. Those who do not agree to wear masks (unless they meet medical criteria for exemption acknowledged by a doctor), and those who are unable to answer the Covid-related questions in the negative will not be permitted to check in for their flights. They will be asked to reschedule or cancel their bookings without incurring change fees. The policy is effective immediately. Here's a link to the Atlanta Business Chronicle article.

3. JetBlue to use ultraviolet light machines to clean its airplanes
JetBlue Airways Corp., seeking to reassure pandemic-wary air travelers of safety, is bringing in a set of machines that use ultraviolet light to clean some of its airplanes. It’s part of a 90-day pilot program for the New York City-based airline using technology from Honeywell International Inc. Each Honeywell machine is about the size of a beverage cart and has arms that sweep over the tops of seats to apply the UV light. The process takes about 10 minutes and, according to Honeywell, "when properly applied, reduces certain viruses and bacteria on airplane cabin surfaces." Honeywell has delivered eight machines to the airline that will be used to clean planes at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida.
 
4. Hurricane preps this year include pandemic plans
As the National Hurricane Center monitors the next area of low pressure in the Atlantic that has a high chance of becoming a tropical depression, the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management is urging everyone to prepare - and for more than having a few extra storm supplies on hand because of coronavirus. The check-list of hurricane supplies includes: Enough food and drinks for at least seven days, Important documents, such as insurance cards, bank numbers and a copy of your social security card, First aid kit, Flashlight, Radio, and Cash. New to the list this year: Face masks, cleaning wipes, and hand sanitizer.
 
5. Quote for the Day
"As attractive as you think it was before the pandemic, there's no going back to that. So, you have to chart a new path going forward." Dr. Steven J. Corwin,
CEO, New York-Presbyterian hospital, on what happens after the pandemic

6. Updates from Europe on the COVID-19 Crisis
(This item is much longer than I normally include and is from a July 27, 2020 briefing by the Transatlantic Business Investment Council (TBIC). I'm including it because many of our local industries do business in Europe. Please scroll down to the next item if this is too much to read.)

COVID-19 continues to challenge us on a global scale. As of today, there have been over 16 million cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide and the number of fatalities currently totals 648,966. The disease has impacted around 188 countries, with the United States confirming the highest number of all global cases. The most severely affected countries right now include the United States, Brazil, India, and Russia. Throughout the past months, we at the TBIC provided our members with continuously updated information about the ongoing COVID-19 crisis through webinars and newsletter articles. This article is another piece in this series and includes updated political and economic data about the current situation in selected European FDI source-countries.

Europe is no longer the epicenter of the pandemic. Since May, the SARS-CoV-2 infections and fatalities are continuously declining. Most internal border controls were lifted mid-June with some countries (e.g. UK) demanding a 14-day quarantine. Travel restrictions to all other countries remained in place until the end of June. Only last week, the EU proposed to lift the temporary travel restrictions for countries showing low or decreasing numbers of SARS-CoV-2 infections including Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea. The restrictions for countries showing critical numbers will remain in place. Only if the number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population is close to or below the EU average, a stable or decreasing trend can be seen over the past 14 days, and comprehensive containment measures are in place, the travel restriction for third countries will be lifted by the EU. All European countries are responsible for lifting their individual restrictive measures, consistent with each countries’ COVID-19 progression. However, the European Commission urged the EU and its Member States to follow three principles when gradually lifting restrictive measures: a) action should be based on science and have public health at its center; b) action should be coordinated between the Member States; c) respect and solidarity between Member States remain essential to better coordinate, communicate and to mitigate the health and socio-economic impacts. With these principles at heart, Europe is currently assessing its economic damages and working on ways to restart its economy.

The Nordic countries had quite different approaches and measures towards the COVID-19 outbreak. While Denmark, Norway and Finland enforced lockdowns and strict measures to contain the virus, Sweden initially followed the “herd immunity” strategy which meant almost no governmental restrictions. This led to a delayed but more intense outbreak in Sweden than the other Nordic countries. As of now, Denmark, Norway and Finland show 10.5, 4.8 and 6 coronavirus fatalities per 100,000 population, respectively, while Sweden is currently at 55.5.  While the numbers in the other Nordic countries are decreasing, Sweden still struggles with the delayed outbreak. Sweden’s economic damages are about the same as Denmark’s, even though the latter carried out strict lockdown measures including the closure of shops and businesses. Governments across the Nordic countries have approved extensive financial support packages for local businesses to restore export, as export is one of the most important economic inputs across the Nordic countries.

The number of cases in Germany is comparatively low (206,667 infected; 9,124 fatalities). However, various local outbreaks (e.g. at the Tönnies meat processing factory, where about 1,500 workers were infected) prove that the pandemic is not over yet. Nevertheless, contact regulations have been eased, shops and schools gradually reopened with restrictions and large public events are banned until the end of October. Due to the coronavirus, the German economy is facing a deep recession; the fall in GDP is estimated at 6.6 percent if the virus subsides by the summer. Containment measures have been shorter and less stringent than in other major European economies, thanks to widespread testing and high health sector capacity. This has moderated the economic downturn, but uncertainty and reduced demand are still having a significant effect on business investment and exports in key sectors, in particular manufacturing. Even though the German GDP fell 12 percent in Q1 2020 compared to the previous quarter, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (ifw) expects a rise in the second half of 2020. According to their economic outlook, the German GDP is expected to decline by 6.8 percent this year, followed by an increase of 6.3 percent in 2021. Currently about 6 million employees are in short-time work, a government-subsidized measure that enables companies to reduce their employee’s hours while paying them almost regular wages so that huge lay-offs can be avoided. However, registered unemployment in Germany increased by over 1 percent between March and May.

The first case of COVID-19 in Switzerland was recorded at the end of February 2020 and the virus spread quickly thereafter. From mid-March on, all schools were closed, and citizens were encouraged to stay home, especially the sick and the elderly. The government declared a ban on all private and public events and closed bars, restaurants, sports and cultural spaces. However, recently the number of new cases in Switzerland decreased significantly. While about 13,000 newly-infected were registered in April, only about 1,000 were registered in May and June. Due to these numbers, the Swiss government allowed schools, shops and restaurants to reopen under strict distancing measures. However, like most European countries, Switzerland currently advises against all non-essential international travel except to countries in the Schengen area and the UK. In Switzerland, many economic sectors have been severely impacted by the shutdown, especially tourism, hotels and restaurants, retail sales and cultural activities. By contrast, the pharmaceutical industry, which represents 30 percent of manufacturing value-added, has been resilient. In spite of the implementation of short-time work schemes, similar to the German one, the number of unemployed people increased significantly. The government set up multiple financial packages to support the country’s economy.

Even though the numbers of newly infected are decreasing, France shows Europe’s third highest number of fatalities due to COVID-19, after UK and Italy. Reduced pressures on the healthcare system allowed a gradual easing of the strict containment measures in mid-May, although some social and economic restrictions remain in place. Mainland France was declared a “green zone” in mid-June, meaning restrictions can ease faster. This led to the reopening of restaurants, shops and beaches under tight restrictions. France’s strict lockdown measures brought the economy to a sudden halt. Consumption and investment fell sharply during the confinement period. If the pandemic is contained by the summer, real GDP will fall by about 11.4 percent in 2020 and rebound by 7.7 percent in 2021. According to the French Statistical Institute (INSEE), France’s economic activity in June was 12 percent below its pre-crisis levels, which already shows a recovery compared to the economic activity in March (-16 percent) and April (-29 percent).

While the north of Italy was considered the world's COVID-19 hotspot in the spring, the situation has since then normalized. The number of fatalities and newly infected are constantly decreasing. After months of restricted freedom of movement Italy, like most other European countries, re-opened its border to EU citizens and ended regional travel restriction in June. Since May, shops and restaurants are gradually re-opening with limited seating and stricter hygiene regulations, while schools remain closed until the new school year. To restart the tourism industry, Italy decided to additionally re-open selected tourist sites. The Italian government estimates that the economy will contract by at least 8 percent this year. In the first quarter of 2020 the country’s GDP fell by 5.3 percent, reflecting the effects of the increasing restrictions on consumer demand, investment and exports during March. Despite the enhancement of short-time work schemes and the suspension (until mid-August) of businesses’ ability to dismiss workers for economic reasons, employment fell by 1.2 percent between March and April. In order to tackle the economic consequences of the outbreak, the Italian government announced three response packages with a total budget of EUR 75 billion (approx. USD 85 billion). Additionally, Italy is hoping for help from the planned European reconstruction fund proposed by the EU - with EUR 170 billion (approx. USD 192 billion) Italy would be the biggest beneficiary.

In general, EU countries are starting to look ahead and find new ways to recover from the economic impacts of the corona crisis. Last week, after one of the longest summits of EU history, EU leaders agreed on a EUR 750 billion (approx. USD 877 billion) financial plan as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, including the capacity to issue communalized debt. The EU’s recovery fund will be composed of EUR 390 bn (approx. USD 456 billion) in grants and EUR 360 billion (approx. USD 421 billion) in loans. Additionally, the heads of state and government also agreed on a new EUR 1.074 trillion (approx. US 1.26 trillion) seven-year budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework, which brings the total financial package to EUR 1.82 trillion (approx. USD 2.1 trillion).

The TBIC will continue to monitor the development of the COVID-19 crisis in Europe and update its members accordingly. For further information or questions get in touch with us today. *The SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 numbers in this article are from John Hopkins CCS and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, last accessed 07/27/2020

7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of five hundred twenty-eight (528) confirmed positive cases and ten (10) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 4,070
Positive Results Received: 772 (609 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,254
Pending Results: 44

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 6 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 6 who are hospitalized pending test results.
COVID-19 Testing Resources Information:
• Department of Public Health COVID-19 Hotline: 844-442-2681
• Stephens County Health Department: 706-282-4507

Testing Locations (by appointment):
• Franklin County Health Dept: 706-384-5575
• Habersham County Health Dept: 706-778-7156
• Hall County Health Dept: 770-531-5600

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 790
Positive Results: 108
Negative Results: 675
Pending Results: 7
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.
 
8. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@scda.biz.

 

 

July 30, 2020

1. The CDC Has Updated Its Guidelines for When People With COVID-19 Can Be in Public Again
The CDC previously stated that it was considered safe for people with COVID-19 to be around others was after they had two negative diagnostic tests for the virus taken 24 hours apart. People were also advised to stay away from others until 14 days had passed since they developed symptoms, provided they no longer had a fever without the use of fever-reducing medication. Now, the recommendations state that people can leave isolation after having COVID-19 when they meet all of the following criteria:
  • It’s been 10 days after your symptoms started.
  • You haven’t had a fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
  • Your symptoms have improved.
If you never had symptoms but tested positive for the virus, the CDC says you can end isolation 10 days after you tested positive for the virus. There is a caveat, though: A “limited” group of people who have a severe form of COVID-19 may need to be isolated for up to 20 days after their symptoms started. People who have weakened immune systems may still need to follow a testing-based approach as they are considered high-risk. This can be determined with the help of a doctor.
 
2. #WFH Chronicles: Taking back some power
This is from a Work From Home blog I occasionally read, but it's got some good general advice for working with people.
Beth Hunt is sharing her Work From Home Experiences. As she writes in her most-recent column, if you’re feeling powerless in this #WFH adventure, here's what to do. 1. Be OK with the uncertainty. Learn to accept what you can't change, stop looking for the precisely right answer that isn't there and do the best you can with what you know. It's not as if anyone else has more information than you do. We're all in the same boat headed toward somewhere we definitely haven't been and may not even have imagined. It's probably best to just hang on for the ride. 2. Remember who we are. We are still the strong, rational, well-intentioned people we were before we went into this #WFH adventure. Just because we don't know exactly where we're headed isn't a reason to close down our brains. There's still plenty of thinking to do. And figuring out. And setting aside. There is plenty to be studied and discussed. And there are decisions to be made with the information we have. 3. Please be kind. There is so much judgment and anger and frustration swirling around us these days that it's easy to forget our manners. Read the full column (and the preceding articles) here.

3. WorkSource Georgia Mountains Provides Resources 
In its efforts to be cautious with the COVID-19 situation, WorkSource Georgia Mountains is continuing to postpone all in-person Career Coach events until further notice. However, they would like to keep providing their services virtually. During these Virtual Career Coaching sessions, they can assist with job searchingresumes writingcareer interest or WIOA training information. If you know someone who could use their services, please have them sign-up for a Virtual Career Coaching session by sharing with them the attached flyer or directing them to this link: https://tinyurl.com/y7fblc4qThis link can also be found under the “COVID-19 Resources” page on the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission website.
 
4. Christmas is Coming
Target Corp. will start its holiday sales in October this year, weeks earlier than usual, but it'll keep stores closed on Thanksgiving in a break from recent strategy. The announcement comes after Walmart last week said it would stay closed on Thanksgiving this year. It's a reversal in tactics from recent years, when Thanksgiving hours (generally starting in late afternoon or early evening) gave retailers an early start on the Black Friday weekend surge in shoppers. But nothing is typical this year. Even retailers like Target and Walmart, who have generally performed well during the pandemic, are seeing rising costs as they add workers and spend more to keep stores clean. And while retailers normally love long lines of shoppers on Black Friday weekend, they've got incentive to keep crowds smaller — hence a longer-than-usual holiday sales period, which ideally will spread out shoppers without hurting sales. Target's decision to start holiday sales in October could also have some competitive factors. Amazon.com Inc. has delayed its annual Prime Day sale (typically held in summer) because of the pandemic. A new date hasn't been announced but CNBC reports that the Seattle-based e-commerce giant has told third-party sellers to use the week of Oct. 5 as a "placeholder date" for Prime Day promotions.

5. What's the difference between an N-95 mask and other masks?
N-95 masks are a disposable face mask that is rated to block out 95 percent of airborne particles while still allowing the wearer to breathe normally. Though people are strongly encouraged to wear masks, even outside, N95 masks are medical-grade personal protective equipment and should be left to supply hospital and other emergency workers.

6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of five hundred six (506) confirmed positive cases and ten (10) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 4,045
Positive Results Received: 763 (605 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,232
Pending Results: 50

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 8 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 8 who are hospitalized pending test results.
COVID-19 Testing Resources Information:
• Department of Public Health COVID-19 Hotline: 844-442-2681
• Stephens County Health Department: 706-282-4507

Testing Locations (by appointment):
• Franklin County Health Dept: 706-384-5575
• Habersham County Health Dept: 706-778-7156
• Hall County Health Dept: 770-531-5600

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 790
Positive Results: 108
Negative Results: 675
Pending Results: 7
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.
 
7. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@scda.biz.

 

 

July 29, 2020

1. Stephens County Teachers Back on Campus
While Stephens County students are scheduled to start back to school on Wednesday, August 12, 2020, teachers start back today, July 29, 2020. Teachers will use this time to prepare for both teaching students in-person and virtually. Each school’s website will post individual plans and protocols for opening. School operations will resume with Phase 3 restrictions and guidelines. Which means "Stephens County School System will provide all students the opportunity to be in school every day. To accomplish this, each of our schools will be modifying our practices to include daily temperature checks, amended cafeteria operations, and additional enhanced safety protocols. Faculty and students may choose to wear a mask based on personal preference. Stephens County School System will also provide the option for students to learn virtually from home per the Parent Instructional Option." In the Parent Instructional Option, "Families will have the option to learn from home via Google Classroom. If needed, a device will be provided for students to access instruction. Information is included in the virtual application. Stephens County has created three exterior wireless hubs for WiFi digital learning within the community. These three locations include Stephens County High School parking lot and stadium, Eastanollee campus, and Toccoa Elementary campus. Additionally, families identified as economically disadvantaged will be afforded the opportunity to access internet connectivity through a mobile wireless device.
 
Parent Selection of Instructional Options:
  • Parents will select a virtual or in-person attendance option through a district created survey/application or by applying at the county office.
  • Families who do not complete the district survey are choosing the in-person attendance option.
  • For the first 20 days of school, students may begin the school year virtually with the option to switch to in-person learning.
  • Students must be committed to the selected option for a full grading period after the first 20 days of school.
  • Parent requests to change from in-person to virtual learning before the end of the grading period will only be considered in extenuating circumstances that are confirmed by a doctor’s medical excuse and approved by the school principal.
For more information click here.

2. PPP Loans Aren’t Free Money, But They Are More Forgivable Than You Might Think
This BISNOW article offers explains how navigating the ever-changing guidance from the government can be difficult for someone who does not follow these regulations closely. Here are a few of the main areas that PPP recipients need to consider to make sure they receive the most forgiveness possible.
Optimizing Employment The two most significant stipulations of PPP loans are that recipients maintain the same number of full-time equivalent employees as they had before the pandemic, and that they use at least 60% of the funds for eligible payroll costs. Unless they can qualify for a safe harbor exemption, recipients may have their forgiveness reduced for falling below 60%, or below pre-COVID-19 FTE levels. But companies may be able to expand the amount of the loan that is forgivable by carefully scrutinizing whom they are paying and how.
Safe Harbors The government recently defined a few "safe harbor" exemptions that are especially pertinent. First, if a borrower can document that government regulations established between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020 — like a shutdown, shelter-in-place or safety guidelines to protect employees and customers — won't allow them to return to the same level of business they experienced prior to Feb. 15, 2020, then even if they reduced their number of FTEs, they can avoid a reduction in loan forgiveness.
Permissible Costs Companies have also struggled to determine whether they should be accounting for costs on a cash or accrual basis and what costs besides payroll are permissible with PPP funds and whether they are also forgivable. Rent and utilities are specifically mentioned as forgivable costs, but beyond those, borrowers enter more of a gray area.
Eligibility Other recipients are fretting over whether they were eligible to receive a PPP loan in the first place. The SBA is currently reviewing applications for large loans to determine whether the recipients actually needed them. The best thing that these companies can do is to gather documentation from the time that they applied to demonstrate a level of financial need for a PPP loan.
Best Practices It is likely that the government will continue to issue new guidance about forgiveness. The best thing that recipients can do is to keep thorough documentation and records of all the PPP funds that were spent, and to spend them in a way that creates a long-term solution for their business, rather than a short-term bandage.

3. You might ask, Why is it called Covid-19?
Covid-19 is shorthand for coronavirus disease 2019. Covid-19 is the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. The WHO gave this strain of the novel coronavirus its name in early February. Symptoms include fever, difficulty breathing, coughing, and loss of smell.

4. Asked and answered: What readers want to know about coronavirus
The novel coronavirus is changing how we live our lives, and folks have questions. The Washington Post has catalogued and organized 11,068 questions about the respiratory disease and provided a guide to help you 
find the answers you seek. This guide is updated twice a day and reordered with the most frequently asked questions about everything from how the disease impacts individuals to the broad impact on society as we know it. Other subject categories include: How it Spreads, Tracking the Virus, State & Federal Response, Testing & Immunity, Characteristics of Coronavirus, Masks, Mortality Rate & Cases, Social Distancing, Vaccines & Treatments, Travel, Symptoms, Cleaning & Sanitation, International Impact & Response, Pandemic Science & History, Misinformation, Staying Healthy, Parenting, Essential Workers, Hospitality Capacity & PPE, Societal Change, Jobs & Economy, Supply and Demand, Healthcare, and others.

5. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of four hundred ninety-five (495) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 4,045
Positive Results Received: 763 (605 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,232
Pending Results: 50

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 8 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 8 pending results.
COVID-19 Testing Resources Information:
• Department of Public Health COVID-19 Hotline: 844-442-2681
• Stephens County Health Department: 706-282-4507

Testing Locations (by appointment):
• Franklin County Health Dept: 706-384-5575
• Habersham County Health Dept: 706-778-7156
• Hall County Health Dept: 770-531-5600

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 790
Positive Results: 108
Negative Results: 675
Pending Results: 7
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.


6. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@scda.biz.
 

 

July 28, 2020

 

1. The CDC Is Reminding People That Face Masks Shouldn’t Be Worn Below the Chin
In a recent video shared on Twitter, the CDC offers up a few friendly reminders of the do’s and don’ts of wearing cloth face coverings. The do’s include wearing a face mask that covers your nose and mouth in public places when you’re around people who don’t live in your household, and washing your hands or using hand sanitizer when you put on and take off your mask. As for the don’ts, the CDC warns that you shouldn’t touch your mask with your hands while you’re wearing it. There’s also one guideline in particular that people may be struggling with: “Don’t put the face covering around your neck or up on your forehead,” the video states.
 
2. City in Georgia urges safety during COVID-19 pandemic with 'Stay Healthy' campaign
Peachtree Corners officials are getting some help from Batman and Wonder Woman to encourage residents to wear face masks, social distance and take other steps to keep the community safe during the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic. Capt. James T. Kirk, Captain America and Spiderman are helping out, too.  It’s all part of Peachtree Corners’ new “Stay Healthy” campaign where the city is using memes and cartoon panels featuring comic book and popular TV characters to encourage residents to follow recommended health guidelines, such as wearing face masks and practicing social distancing, during the pandemic.

 

3. SBA outlines PPP forgiveness platform

Lenders can begin submitting applications for Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness Aug. 10. The Small Business Administration, which oversees the federal relief program, said in posting notification of the date it is working with financial services technology provider Goldschmitt-CRI to provide the platform. Only lenders will have access to the portal. PPP lenders can use the platform to submit data and documentation, monitor the status of forgiveness requests, and interact with the SBA in case of an inquiry or loan review. The agency said the platform’s opening date is subject to extension if legislators make changes to the process that affect the system.

4. Pandemic creates precedent for lawyers
Courts are far from early tech adopters, but the impact of the coronavirus is forcing the U.S. judicial system to adopt technology at a much faster pace — and it’s changing the courts forever. As the pandemic blew up this spring, courts couldn’t just shut down, so the question became how to keep an already backlogged judicial system operating. The answer: videoconferencing. It was a practice borne of necessity, but now, practitioners are embracing its speed, efficiency and savings — and they have little intention of abandoning it.

 

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of four hundred eighty-four (484) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 4,021
Positive Results Received: 761 (603 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,228
Pending Results: 32

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 8 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19.
COVID-19 Testing Resources Information:
• Department of Public Health COVID-19 Hotline: 844-442-2681
• Stephens County Health Department: 706-282-4507

Testing Locations (by appointment):
• Franklin County Health Dept: 706-384-5575
• Habersham County Health Dept: 706-778-7156
• Hall County Health Dept: 770-531-5600

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 790
Positive Results: 108
Negative Results: 675
Pending Results: 7
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.


6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@scda.biz.

 

 

July 27, 2020

 

1. Georgia schools are still free to choose their own fall opening dates
The matter of delaying the reopening of schools until later after Labor Day did not come up at the Georgia Board of Education meeting held last week. Georgia schools are free to choose their own starting date. Many districts plan to open within the next couple of weeks. Stephens County is in that group with a scheduled startback date of August 12, 2020.
 
1. New CDC Guidance Recommendations
 
2. The GA DPH has also released updated guidelines for return to work.
Here is a link to GADPH guidelines. I am also attaching the non-health care provider one below, let me know if you need the one for healthcare.
 
3. Here are the six industries most sensitive to Covid-19
Synovus Financial Corp. President Kevin Blair has identified 
six industries where companies' long-term cash flow is most sensitive to Covid-19: Hotels; Non-grocery-anchored shopping centers; Restaurants; Retail; Arts, entertainment and recreation; and Oil-related.
 
4. Covid-19 "will end up as a Top 10 leading cause of death" in 2020, CDC statisticians tell CNN
Even though the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cannot start ranking leading causes of deaths until the end of the year -- in order to get a full year's worth of data -- statisticians at the agency told CNN they expect Covid-19 will end up among the Top 10 leading causes of death in the nation. Final data are based on death certificates for the calendar year. As of July 23, slightly more than 144,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the United States so far this year. In 2018, the latest year for which final data is available, the top 10 leading causes of death among all ages in the United States were: 
  1. Heart disease (655,381)
  2. Cancer (599,274)
  3. Unintentional injury (167,127)
  4. Chronic lower respiratory disease (159,486)
  5. Stroke (147,810)
  6. Alzheimer's disease (122,019)
  7. Diabetes (84,946)
  8. Flu and pneumonia (59,120)
  9. Nephritis (51,386)
  10. Suicide (48,344)

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of four hundred seventy-six (476) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 3,868
Positive Results Received: 690 (561 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,103
Pending Results: 75

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 8 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19.
COVID-19 Testing Resources Information:
• Department of Public Health COVID-19 Hotline: 844-442-2681
• Stephens County Health Department: 706-282-4507

Testing Locations (by appointment):
• Franklin County Health Dept: 706-384-5575
• Habersham County Health Dept: 706-778-7156
• Hall County Health Dept: 770-531-5600

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 790
Positive Results: 108
Negative Results: 675
Pending Results: 7
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.


6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

Friday, July 24, 2020

1. Ten Trends Shaping U.S. Manufacturing in the Next Twelve Months

MAPI asked forty CEOs of large manufacturing companies about their perspectives at the end of June 2020 on the trajectory of the economy, the sector, and their businesses during the next year.  Areas of relative confidence and uncertainty are reflected in three major themes: diverging outlooks on the economy and industry, shifts to business models and operations and evolving workplace dynamics.
The top trends are:
Diverging outlooks on the economy and industry
1. Demand only recovers with vaccine – aggregate demand will not return to pre-pandemic levels without it, and nearly 4 in 5 CEOs do not expect a V-recovery of U.S. GDP by June 2021.
2. China decoupling accelerates – companies will continue to shift locations of operations and China growth will stay below 6%.
3. Manufacturing output at stake in election – November ballots will matter for manufacturing production, say 81% of CEOs.
4. Elevating cybersecurity and ESG – resources for IT/OT cybersecurity will rise and reporting on ESG becomes table stakes.
CEOs foresee shifts to their business models and operations
5. Onshoring operations globally – consensus is to see more supply chains and production capacity move in-country.
6. Reconfiguring factory floor and footprint – shopfloors will see permanent design changes for safety, as physical footprints also shrink for some global operations.
7. Smart manufacturing sees momentum – annual investment is expected to rise at 85% of companies.
8. Digital innovation drives sales – digitalization of distribution will fuel growth for two-thirds of CEOs.
CEOs expect workplace dynamics to evolve in their companies
9. Committing to diversity & inclusion – nearly 90% of CEOs will hold more forums to encourage dialogue on D&I, with a smaller share likely to raise targets for hiring and promotion of underrepresented groups.
10. Work environment still in flux – little consensus on the “new normal” for travel, telework, and workspace.

2.Three simple acts can stop Covid-19 outbreaks, study finds
If people washed their hands regularly, wore masks, and kept their social distance from each other, these three simple behaviors could stop most all of the Covid-19 pandemic, even without a vaccine or additional treatments, according to a new study. The study, published Tuesday in the journal PLoS Medicine, created a new model to look at the spread of the disease and prevention efforts that could help stop it.

3. You Might Be Using Hand Sanitizer Wrong—Here’s How Much You Really Need
I discovered a graphic from the World Health Organization (WHO) demonstrating best practices, and offer it to you here and as an attachment below to highlight how an absentminded or careless pump-and-rub can be next to no good. Here are three common mistakes made when sanitizing: not using enough product, skipping surfaces, and not pausing to let the gel dry. 

image.png
4. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of four hundred forty-six (446) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 3,868
Positive Results Received: 690 (561 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,103
Pending Results: 75

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 8 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19.
COVID-19 Testing Resources Information:
• Department of Public Health COVID-19 Hotline: 844-442-2681
• Stephens County Health Department: 706-282-4507

Testing Locations (by appointment):
• Franklin County Health Dept: 706-384-5575
• Habersham County Health Dept: 706-778-7156
• Hall County Health Dept: 770-531-5600

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 723
Positive Results: 100
Negative Results: 617
Pending Results: 10
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.


5. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 7/23

1. Stephens County Schools to Start August 12,2020
The Stephens County Board of Education has moved the start of the 2020-2021 school year back one week to August 12, 2020. Teachers will still report on July 29, 2020. Each school’s website will post individual plans and protocols for opening. Stephens County School Superintendent Dr. Daniel Oldham says the teachers needed additional time to better prepare for both teaching students virtually and in-person. He says the delay start will give teachers enough time to be ready for the school year to begin prior to the arrival of students.
 

2. Governor Kemp Calls on Georgians to Do “Four Things in Four Weeks”

Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey are calling on all Georgians to implement "Four Things for Four Weeks" into their daily routines to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19:  1) Wear a mask when out in public or when you cannot keep distance inside; 2) Practice physical distancing - six feet from those you don’t live with; 3) Wash your hands for 20 seconds several times throughout the day with soap and warm water; and 4) Follow the Executive Order and heed the guidance provided by public health officials. 

3. Manufacturing Operations During the COVID-19 Crisis

Manufacturing 4.0 technologies have played a vital role in manufacturers' ability to remain agile. As published in IndustryWeek, manufacturers responding to Hitachi Vantara’s Industry Insights: Manufacturing Operations During the COVID-19 Crisis survey indicated that digitalization was already a part of their long-term strategy prior to the outbreak and it is exactly those implementations that have helped them maximize output and maintain quality during the COVID-19 crisis. The survey also highlighted the importance of cloud, supply chain, predictive analytics, automation/robotics and wireless connectivity as vital tools needed to combat the productivity disruption of COVID-19. Looking ahead, manufacturers realize they need to remain focused on digitalization. Many manufacturers affirmed that they’re planning increased investments in wireless, cyber security automation/robotics and supply chain technologies. Plus, nearly 43% of respondents say they plan to increase investments in video and lidar technologies. The entire 27-page report is attached below.

4. The Not-So-Silent Fallout from COVID-19—Stress
Acknowledging the emotional part of dealing with this pandemic is a huge stepping stone to delving further into the area of mental health. To understand the state of mental health, many are seeking resources. One especially helpful resource is a free, online, real-time screening offered by Mental Health America, a nonprofit organization.The stress can be attributed to several factors, according to a study done recently by the American Psychiatric Association. More than one-third of Americans (36%) say coronavirus is having a serious impact on their mental health and most (59%) feel coronavirus is having a serious impact on their day-to-day lives. Dealing with issues before they escalate is the mission of Mental Health of America. And, to help employers, it offers an award called the Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health. This accreditation can prove to employees that a company values a mentally healthy workplace.
 

5. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of 
four hundred forty-two (442) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 3,868
Positive Results Received: 690 (561 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,103
Pending Results: 75

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • We currently have 8 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19.
COVID-19 Testing Resources Information:
• Department of Public Health COVID-19 Hotline: 844-442-2681
• Stephens County Health Department: 706-282-4507

Testing Locations (by appointment):
• Franklin County Health Dept: 706-384-5575
• Habersham County Health Dept: 706-778-7156
• Hall County Health Dept: 770-531-5600

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 723
Positive Results: 100
Negative Results: 617
Pending Results: 10
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.


6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 7/22

1. New Resource for Employers to Help Employees with Mental Health

I know I've mentioned this before, but this IndustryWeek article discussed how HR departments can use Psych Hub, and other resources, to help employees deal with issues arising from the pandemic. The SHRM Foundation, One Mind at Work, and Psych Hub announced on July 17 that they have joined together to launch “Mental Health and Wellness in the Workplace,” an initiative to engage HR professionals in education and training opportunities to lead mental health and wellness change in the workplace. The initiative aims to promote a culture of acceptance around returning to the workplace and the rising mental health issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Psych Hub guides providers, professionals, and allies from knowledge learned to behavior change through innovation, gamification, certifications, and supportive patient/employee education. The free Psych Hub video library hosts over 150 short, animated videos for consumers focused on improving mental health literacy and reducing stigma about seeking care. With materials available to all companies, the initiative encompasses a series of vital resources for HR professionals and their employees, including: 1. A workplace wellness resource center compiling best-in-class resources from leading partners and 2. Training courses for HR professionals on adequately addressing mental health issues in the modern workplace.
 
2. Will Americans Relocate To Less Populated Areas Due To COVID-19?

Business Facilities is reporting that more than one-third (35%) of American workers would consider relocating to a new city or town because of COVID-19, according to a new nationwide survey from Fast. As the realities of the pandemic continue to discourage and restrict movement, especially in cities, American workers say that they are most often considering a move to a less populated area (40%), followed by 36% who say it’s because there are more opportunities to work remotely than before the pandemic and 31% who are looking for a lower cost of living.

As the cost of living in major Americans cities continues to rise, and COVID-19 cases spike across states including California and Arizona, those in the West are now considering a move at the highest rates (43%), most importantly for a lower cost of living and a less populated area, compared to 36% in the Northeast, 35% inthe South and 22% in the Midwest.

3. Commerce Department: June Retail Sales Rise 7.5 Percent from May

According to this Shopping Center Business article, the advanced estimate for June retail sales nationwide is up 7.5 percent on a month-over-month basis. Consumers visited stores and auto dealerships in-person for the second straight month as businesses began reopening their doors. Retail sales totaled $524.3 billion in June, up from $487.7 billion in May. The most recent figure shows spending is near pre-pandemic levels, as the Commerce Department reported that February 2020 spending reached$527.3 billion. The Commerce Department also revised the May retail sales rate up by 50 basis points to 18.2 percent growth from April.

4.  Can’t Find The Employees You Need Right Now?

Let Piedmont College help you “grow your own” with the work ethic, training, and degree needed for their advancement. Piedmont College (soon to be University) has a Neighborhood Grant that automatically discounts tuition 50% for students who are 25 or older, seeking their first bachelor’s degree, live in one of the 16 nearby counties (Stephens is one), attend the Demorest campus, and take at least 6 semester credit hours. This is quite an opportunity. Several of our area companies are paying part or all of the tuition as an incentive for people to work at the company.

Piedmont is business friendly and here for the working student. Many courses (and some complete programs) are online and many are available in the evening. Leadership Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies are both fully online programs, and many of Piedmont’s business courses are delivered online or in the evenings.

If you would like more information, please contact Dr. Judy Taylor, Coordinator of the Neighborhood Grant, at 678-997-8570 or jtaylor@piedmont.edu.  She will be happy to send an email to or visit with any prospective student. See attachment flyer below.
 
5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of four hundred twelve (412) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 3,775
Positive Results Received: 670 (548 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,062
Pending Results: 43

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:

  • We currently have 5 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 1 other who is hospitalized awaiting results.
  • We are updating some of our policies for visitation in the hospital. Beginning Wednesday,  July 22nd , Patients will be allowed 1 support person for:
  • Outpatient Surgery, Outpatient Infusions, ER Visits, Inpatient admissions (with the exception of patients being treated and testing positive for COVID-19), End of life discussions, and Labor and Delivery.
  • All individuals will be screened for temperature upon entry to the hospital. Anyone with a temperature of 100.3 or who is sick will not be allowed to be a patient’s support person in the hospital.
  • WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care Clinic does have testing capabilities for patients suspected of having COVID-19. Testing is done by appointment and only following assessment by a medical provider of that clinic. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and wish to be assessed at WorkWell, please call 706-282-5815. 

COVID-19 Testing Resources Information:

  • Department of Public Health COVID-19 Hotline: 844-442-2681
  • Stephens County Health Department: 706-282-4507

Testing Locations (by appointment):

  • Franklin County Health Dept: 706-384-5575
  • Habersham County Health Dept: 706-778-7156
  • Hall County Health Dept: 770-531-5600

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 723
Positive Results: 100
Negative Results: 617
Pending Results: 10
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.
 
6. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 7/21

1. This is the last week of $600 unemployment benefits

According to this Gwinett Daily Post article, the end is near for the $600 federal lifeline for millions of unemployed Americans. The coronavirus relief program technically doesn't expire until July 31, but this coming week will be the last for which benefits are paid -- because payments are only provided for weeks ending on either Saturday or Sunday. Jobless Americans will still get state unemployment benefits, but the sunset of the Congress' $600 enhancement -- part of the $2 trillion economic aid package passed in March -- will leave more than 25 million people thousands of dollars poorer each month. Congressional lawmakers are beginning to work this week on the next economic stimulus package. But it's unknown if they'll agree on -- much less approve -- the next step to help unemployed Americans before the payments lapse. The provision was controversial from the start, mainly because the $600 boost, when added to state benefits, is more than what two-thirds of workers made on the job, according to an estimate from University of Chicago researchers. But lawmakers approved it in late March as part of a historic expansion of the nation's unemployment program at a time when health officials didn't want people out looking for work. The flat $600 payment was much easier for state agencies -- which were already struggling as a flood of claims overwhelmed their technology -- to implement. Congress approved the boost for only four months, thinking that the economy would bounce back quickly once the coronavirus was vanquished and businesses reopened.  

2. Maintaining Momentum as the Crisis Drags on

This IndustryWeek article on leadership answers the question: How does one not just operate but lead long-term through the pandemic?

For starters, make sure that whatever you are doing, you are acting in line with your values and your organization’s values. This can be particularly hard in a crisis, when emotions run high, and stress takes a toll on people mentally and physically. Leaders should also be asking specific questions in the midst of a crisis because the landscape has likely shifted from where it was pre-crisis or even early on in the crisis. For one thing, risk may look very different than it did three months ago, so leaders need to reassess by asking, “What is it that potentially puts at risk our ability to execute our mission, whatever the outcome is that we as a business are focused on?” The flip side of this is that opportunities may have shifted as the crisis continued, too. So leaders should be asking, “What does opportunity look like in this new world?” Crucial in all of this is that leaders not overlook the human dimension of a crisis, which has been particularly acute during this pandemic. This is done by actively listening to your people which is a skill that leaders often don’t focus on. Mid-level managers, too, have a part to play. They should be listening to the concerns of their teams and then passing that information up the hierarchy so that senior leaders have a true sense of what people are stressed and griping about. And the longer the crisis goes on, the more likely it is that new stresses and gripes will emerge, as coping mechanisms that seemed reasonable in the first few weeks are no longer sustainable. Listening to employees is also a strength when a company wants to help its community during a crisis. Ask your workforce, “‘As employees and as citizens, tell us what you think would be the most relevant? Where could we, as a company, make a difference?’”  

3. Fortune 500 CEO survey: How are America’s biggest companies dealing with the coronavirus pandemic?

When asked, "When will economic activity return to the level it was before the pandemic?" 52.4% said Q1 2022, 25% said Q1 2023, 14.3% said Q1 2021, and 8.3% said Other. When asked, "When will at least 90% of your workforce have returned to their usual workplace?" 9.5% said June 2020, 17.9% said September 2020, 20.2% said January 2021, 17.9% said June 2021, 8.3% said January 2022, and 26.2% said Never. When asked, "When will Business Travel at your company return to the levels it was before the pandemic?" 14.3% said Q1 2021, 25.0% said Q1 2022, 4.8% said Q1 2023, 4.8% said Other, and 51.1% said Never. When asked, "In January 2021, how do you expect your company's total employment to compare to what it was in January 2020?" 53.6% said slightly less, 19.0% said significantly less, 13.1% said roughly the same, 10.7% said slightly more, and 3.6% said much more. When asked, "At my company, this crisis will have what effect on the pace of technological transformation?" 75.0% said accelerate, 19.0% said no significant effect, and 6.0% said slow. When asked, "When do you expect capital spending at your company to exceed 2019 levels?" 19.0% said 2020, 35.7% said 2021, 27.4% said 2022, 13.1% said 2023, and 4.8% said Never. For other results, please see the attached document below. 

4. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of four hundred three (403) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  
Tests Completed: 3,693
Positive Results: 588 (487 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.) 
Negative Results: 2,831 Pending Results: 274

  • The Stephens County Hospital is no longer able to provide testing for asymptomatic individuals. Testing will be done as a diagnostic tool for symptomatic patients of our facilities and for patients who require a COVID-19 test in conjunction with a medical procedure scheduled to be performed at our facilities. They have spoken at length with the Department of Public Health who is providing testing for asymptomatic individuals at the health departments in Franklin, Habersham, and Hall counties and they have asked for asymptomatic residents of Stephens County who wish to be tested for COVID-19 to contact those health departments as they work to hopefully bring testing services to Stephens County in the near future. Please go to their website which is phdistrict2.org or contact their COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681. This means the Stephens County Hospital will not be hosting its previously scheduled drive-through testing on Monday, July 27th.

    For individuals who are sick, we ask that you seek medical treatment by calling your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider and are sick, the Hospital is glad to see you at WorkWell Immediate Care Clinic, but ask that you please call in advance, 706-282-5815. Thank you all for your understanding. Be assured that the Stephens County Hospital is doing everything it can in the fight against COVID-19.
    Thank you for trusting Stephens County Hospital for your care.

    COVID-19 TESTING RESOURCES

    Information:

    • Department of Public Health COVID-19 Hotline: 844-442-2681
    • Stephens County Health Department: 706-282-4507

    Testing Locations (by appointment):

    • Franklin County Health Dept: 706-384-5575
    • Habersham County Health Dept: 706-778-7156
    • Hall County Health Dept: 770-531-5600


    WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care Clinic does have testing capabilities for patients suspected of having COVID-19. Testing is done by appointment and only following assessment by a medical provider of that clinic. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and wish to be assessed at WorkWell, please call 706-282-5815.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 620
Positive Results: 90
Negative Results: 515 Pending Results: 15 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

5. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 7/20

1. Georgia schools set new guidelines for closings, quarantine

Georgia schools could close their doors for more than two weeks if a student or teacher tests positive for COVID-19, according to revised guidelines  

from the state Department of Education released this week. Under the recommendations, a student or school employee who has been near someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 would need to self-quarantine for 14 days after the exposure. Testing negative during that time would not shorten the quarantine. If that student or employee develops symptoms, they will have to wait at least ten days from the first day they showed symptoms to return to school, and they will have to be fever-free for at least three days. That is the same quarantine length for people who test positive for COVID-19 and show symptoms. People who do not show symptoms can go back to school 10 days after a positive test if they remain asymptomatic for the entire time. Positive cases can also trigger schools to temporarily close, either in part or in full. School districts are being advised to consult with their local health department to decide whether and for how long a shut down is needed based on the school and community.

2. Georgia Business is in the Business of Health & Safety

Our friends at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce are encouraging us to protect our customers, clients and employees while still growing our businesses. We must all join Governor Brian Kemp's call to BE ALL IN! Proper training, sanitization, distancing and #Masksmatter  

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3. Almost all COVID-19 patients with symptoms had at least one of these three, small CDC survey says  
COVID-19 can cause a wide variety of symptoms, but a new analysis of records by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that most patients seemed to share at least one of three symptoms: fever, cough or shortness of breath. The analysis, published Thursday in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, covered 164 people with lab confirmed cases of Covid-19. The patients all had symptoms, andall were sick between January 14 and April 4.Among these patients, nearly all -- 96% -- had had either a fever, cough, or shortness of breath and about 45% experienced all three. Cough was the most common symptom: 84% of surveyed patients said they had a cough, the team of CDC and state health officials found. Fever was the next most common symptom, with 80% of patients reporting they had a fever. Shortness of breath was more commonly associated with people who were hospitalized.

4. Best guess on when business travel will recover? It could be years.

This New York Times article reports until companies are sure they can protect workers’ health they won’t want to take the responsibility and risk of sending them back on the road. Two to three years may be too optimistic, at least for a recovery by the major airlines. As for hotels, business travelers generate about 70 percent of Marriott’s and Hilton’s global revenues. The car rental industry is perhaps the brightest spot among travel suppliers. The average length of business travel rentals at Enterprise, National and Alamo has risen recently. Some business travelers are keeping cars up to seven days, compared with less than three days before the pandemic. They are driving distances that they previously flew.

5. Manufacturing A Recovery

In this Townhall Finance article by Jerry Bowyer, he opines on the recent ISM Manufacturing Index report. It just spiked from 43.1 to 52.6, which is the largest increase in almost 40 years. Note that anything above a level of 50 is considered expansionary. He adds, "Let's have no illusions: 52.6 is not exactly a boom (it barely clears the expansionary hurdle set at 50), but in terms of reversal of trend, this is a powerful signal."

6. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of four hundred two (402) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  
Tests Completed: 3,693
Positive Results: 588 (487 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.) 
Negative Results: 2,831 Pending Results: 274

  • The Stephens County Hospital is no longer able to provide testing for asymptomatic individuals. Testing will be done as a diagnostic tool for symptomatic patients of their facilities and for patients who require a COVID-19 test in conjunction with a medical procedure scheduled to be performed at their facilities. They have spoken at length with the Department of Public Health who is providing testing for asymptomatic individuals at the health departments in Franklin, Habersham, and Hall counties and they have asked for asymptomatic residents of Stephens County who wish to be tested for COVID-19 to contact those health departments as they work to hopefully bring testing services to Stephens County in the near future. Please go to their website which is phdistrict2.org or contact their COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681. This means the Stephens County Hospital will not be hosting their previously scheduled drive-through testing on Monday July 20th or July 27th.

    For individuals who are sick, we ask that you seek medical treatment by calling your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider and are sick, you are urged to visit WorkWell Immediate Care Clinic, but ask that you please call in advance, 706-282-5815. Thank you for your understanding. Please be assured Stephens County Hospital is doing everything it can in the fight against COVID-19.
    Thank you for trusting Stephens County Hospital for your care.

    COVID-19 TESTING RESOURCES

    Information:

    • Department of Public Health COVID-19 Hotline: 844-442-2681
    • Stephens County Health Department: 706-282-4507

    Testing Locations (by appointment):

    • Franklin County Health Dept: 706-384-5575
    • Habersham County Health Dept: 706-778-7156
    • Hall County Health Dept: 770-531-5600


    WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care Clinic does have testing capabilities for patients suspected of having COVID-19. Testing is done by appointment and only following assessment by a medical provider of that clinic. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and wish to be assessed at WorkWell, please call 706-282-5815.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 723
Positive Results: 100
Negative Results: 617 Pending Results: 6 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

7. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 7/17

1. COVID-19 Testing by Stephens County Hospital

According to Carmen Kisner, our Stephens County Hospital Infectious Disease Director, and effective immediately the Hospital is cancelling all drive up and community testing until further notice at both their WorkWell and the Monday community locations. Due to an overwhelming response this week they are rapidly deleting testing supplies that have become almost impossible to obtain. They are also seeing higher than normal in patients in the hospital and do not have the resources to sustain this level of testing. They will only be testing symptomatic patients at their physician offices, WorkWell and ER. Those wanting testing who are not symptomatic can call the Stephens County Health Department at 706-282-4818 to arrange an appointment to be tested at Franklin and Habersham County Health Departments. Ths hospital is actively working to appeal to the state to set up a testing site for Stephens County. We will keep you updated on that as we have more information.  For any of our community industry or business partners that have a need they can contact Nurse Kisner directly and she will address these needs on a case by case basis depending on the resources available at the time. We know this is going to cause a lot of issues and problems moving forward and we apologize for the inconvenience, but we have to ensure we have adequate supplies as we move into flu season and those symptomatic patients.  

2. Gov. Brian Kemp renews COVID-19 restrictions in Georgia with no mask mandate

Gov. Brian Kemp renewed executive orders late Wednesday to keep Georgia’s current social distancing and safety rules imposed through the end of July to discourage the spread of coronavirus in place for businesses, schools and public gatherings. The latest executive order also contains new language requiring that any masking mandates put in place by city or county governments that go beyond the state’s voluntary measures “are suspended.” The governor’s order arrived hours before a slate of COVID-19 restrictions were set to expire at Wednesday’s end. Kemp has executive authority to issue emergency orders through at least Aug. 11.  

3. Georgia schools set new guidelines for closings, quarantine

Georgia schools could close their doors for more than two weeks if a student or teacher tests positive for COVID-19, according to revised guidelines from the state Department of Education released this week. Under the recommendations, a student or school employee who has been near someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 would need to self-quarantine for 14 days after the exposure. Testing negative during that time would not shorten the quarantine. If that student or employee develops symptoms, they will have to wait at least ten days from the first day they showed symptoms to return to school, and they will have to be fever-free for at least three days. That is the same quarantine length for people who test positive for COVID-19 and show symptoms. People who do not show symptoms can go back to school 10 days after a positive test if they remain asymptomatic for the entire time. Positive cases can also trigger schools to temporarily close, either in part or in full. School districts are being advised to consult with their local health department to decide whether and for how long a shut down is needed based on the school and community.

4. Georgia High School Association to allow football helmets beginning July 20

The Georgia High School Association and the Sports Medicine Advisory Council updated its Coronavirus Guidance Plan this week, allowing football players to wear helmets beginning Monday, July 20. The GHSA elected to implement the use of football helmets with the stipulation that schools must sanitize the helmet before and after each workout. All previously distributed correspondence is still in place until further notice, especially no use of locker rooms. The GHSA and the SMAC have started the discussion concerning the start of the acclimatization period (beginning July 27), first date for practice (Aug. 1) and the first contest date (different for each sport/activity). More information will be available following next week's meeting.  

5. America’s jobless are about to lose the extra $600-a-week benefit

In about two weeks millions of Americans could lose the $600 a week in extra federal unemployment benefits. Of course policy makers are at odds about extending weekly unemployment aid. Read in Bloomberg: https://apple.news/AxtHT7-KdS7KSO-nBcUuwtw.

6. Need some good news about COVID-19? 

This Washington Post opinion lists six reasons for optimism. For the first time in history, nearly every scientist in the world is focused on the same problem. This is starting to pay real dividends. Here are six positive developments to remind us that there is hope in this crisis:

Therapeutic treatments (in addition to what we already have for the most sick patients) will arrive before vaccines.

Rapid, low-cost saliva tests are also coming. Imagine a test you could take at home every day, that gives you an answer in a few minutes after spitting into a vial and costs only $1 to $5. Such a test would change our ability to slow outbreaks where early detection is everything. It would also help consumer confidence and slow down this economic crisis. 

Masks work. It took three months, but universal mask-wearing is catching on. What was once awkward and unusual (in the United States, anyway) has now become more accepted.

Consensus has finally emerged that airborne spread is happening. This means that there will be more messaging coming out from the WHO and other organizations recommending that people add a new control to their toolkit for fighting this virus — healthy building strategies, such as higher ventilation, better filtration and the use of portable air-cleaning devices.

There is some science showing that past exposure to common-cold coronaviruses might be playing a protective role for some people. Several studies are now showing that 20 to 50 percent of people who had never been exposed to the novel coronavirus have immune cells — known as memory T cells — in their body that react to this new virus. The speculation is that this is due to prior exposure to common-cold coronaviruses.

Vaccine trials seem to be working.   

7. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of three hundred seventy-nine (379) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  
Tests Completed: 3,458
Positive Results: 570 (471 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.) 
Negative Results: 2,712 Pending Results: 176

  • Currently the hospital has two patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19 and two others awaiting results.
  • Here’s a message from the Hospital daily update: “In our area, and in many areas of the country, we’ve seen a significant increase in positive cases of COVID-19 over the last two weeks. We’ve worked diligently to serve our region and provide testing for all individuals during this epidemic.  We have tested nearly 1,500 individuals in just the past 2 weeks at absolutely no cost to patients; but with the increase of patients being sick from the coronavirus, and with a growing shortage of testing supplies nation-wide, we are no longer able to provide testing to asymptomatic individuals.  Testing will be done as a diagnostic tool for symptomatic patients of our facilities and for patients who require a COVID-19 test in conjunction with a medical procedure scheduled to be performed at our facilities.  We’ve spoken at length with the Department of Public Health who is providing testing for asymptomatic individuals at the health departments in Franklin, Habersham, and Hall counties and they have asked for asymptomatic residents of Stephens County who wish to be tested for COVID-19 to contact those health departments as they work to hopefully bring testing services to Stephens County in the near future. Please go to their website which is phdistrict2.org or contact their COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681. This means we will not be hosting our previously scheduled drive-through testing on Monday July 20th or July 27th. For individuals who are sick, we ask that you seek medical treatment by calling your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider and are sick, we are glad to see you at WorkWell Immediate Care Clinic, but ask that you please call in advance, 706-282-5815. We thank you all for your understanding and want to reassure you that we are doing everything we can in the fight against COVID-19. Thank you for trusting Stephens County Hospital for your care.”
  • For any of our community industry or business partners that have a need they can contact Nurse Kisner directly and she will address these needs on a case by case basis depending on the resources available at the time. We know this is going to cause a lot of issues and problems moving forward and we apologize for the inconvenience, but we have to ensure we have adequate supplies as we move into flu season and those symptomatic patients.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 620
Positive Results: 90
Negative Results: 515 Pending Results: 15 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

8. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 7/16

1. When will we reach herd immunity for Covid-19?

Typically, an epidemic dies out once the level of immunity in a population passes a certain threshold, and there aren’t enough new people for the virus to infect. Determining that threshold for Covid-19 is critical, but a lot of nuance is involved in calculating exactly how much of the population needs to gain immunity for herd immunity to take effect. According to standard models, about 60 percent of the US population would need to either be vaccinated or recover from Covid-19 to stop its spread. But some experts suspect that the threshold for naturally acquired immunity is lower than that. Here's the link to a long article in The Atlantic.

2. Four ways to track the spread of coronavirus—and why none of them is perfect

No single statistic captures the full picture of the coronavirus crisis. But understanding what each one can and can’t reveal can paint a picture about pandemic’s trajectory. Read in The Wall Street Journal: https://apple.news/AKChizU6SQB2WH2pF1tqhHQ  

3. Consumers Want, and are Willing to Pay for, Anti-Microbial Coatings in Cars

IndustryWeek is reporting that specialized polymer coatings can deter viruses such as COVID-19 from remaining on surfaces. Anything to help keep surfaces clear of COVID-19 is a hit with consumers. So when it comes to using anti-microbial coatings on high-touch surfaces inside a personal vehicle, including door handles, steering wheels, displays and consoles,  they approve. This is according to a consumer survey conducted by IHS Markit that was conducted in five major markets. Of the 800 consumers interviewed 54% said they're “very interested” or “interested” in having an anti-microbial coating in their next personal vehicle. Additionally, IHS Markit found that 25% of consumers said that they will not use ridesharing after the COVID-19 pandemic and 80% of consumers expect their rideshare vehicles to have some sort of disinfecting supplies going forward. Nearly half (48%) of respondents said that they will still use ridesharing going forward, but will reduce the frequency in which they were accustomed to before the pandemic.

4. Chief Justice Harold Melton Extends Statewide Judicial State of Emergency

Chief Justice Harold Melton has signed an order extending the Statewide Judicial State of Emergency to August 11, 2020.  The order authorizes courts to move forward with all judicial proceedings except criminal and civil jury trials and most grand jury proceedings, as long as the courts can legally, safety and practicably do so.   The order continues the prohibition on jury trial proceedings and most grand jury proceedings and states, “it is unlikely that any jury proceedings will begin until September or later.”  Read the press release and Fourth Order Extending the Declaration of Statewide Judicial Emergency.

5. Why Child Care Should Be Part of Your COVID-19 Recovery Strategy

I know we're in Georgia, but according to an article by the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation, North Carolina needs new model for child care services to propel a vibrant and successful economy. The article suggests employers can support employees’ child care needs by offering:

Backup or emergency child care – Licensed child care programs offered at an employer’s work site or in centers, or in an employee’s home helps employees continue work despite disruptions in normal caregiving arrangements. Employers have the power to negotiate rates with local care centers. Offering a backup plan gives working parents peace of mind and increases your business’ overall productivity and improves recruitment.

Subsidized/reimbursed child care – Employers can reimburse or subsidize all or part of an employee’s approved child care costs. They may also reserve slots at particular facilities for employees’ children. By implementing this policy, you offer much-needed resources to parents looking for quality child care in the area. In turn, your business will see increased retention, lower turnover costs, and reduced employee absenteeism.

Flexible work scheduling – Telecommuting allows employees to work from home or a remote site for some or all of the time. This is the life many of us have been living these days, but continuing this policy could improve your employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity.

Paid parental leave – This is leave provided for those employees who have given birth, adopted, or accepted a foster placement of a child. This is separate from vacation time or sick leave. Not only does a paid parental leave policy increase morale and job satisfaction, it also improves recruitment and retention.

Paid sick leave – Sick leave refers to paid leave for employees to care for themselves or a family member during a temporary, short-term medical issue, such as illness or for preventative health care, such as an annual well visit or a prenatal doctor appointment.

Predictable scheduling – Allows employees to have input into their work schedule, provides at least two weeks’ notice of work schedule and discourages last-minute schedule shifts so parents can more reliably plan for care needs and secure high-quality care.

6. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of three hundred seventy-five (375) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  
Tests Completed: 3,309
Positive Results: 491 (402 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.) 
Negative Results: 2,477 Pending Results: 341

  • Currently the hospital has seven patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19 and two others awaiting results.
  • The hospital will be hosting a drive-through testing site once per week (every Monday) at different locations around town. There is no doctor’s order required, but please arrive with an ID and your insurance card if you have insurance. The testing site will be open from 8am to noon on Mondays and the schedule is listed below:
    • July 20: Mount Zion Baptist Church on Whitman Street, Toccoa
    • July 27: The Pointe Church, 4387 GA17, Toccoa

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 620
Positive Results: 90
Negative Results: 515 Pending Results: 15 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

7. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 7/15

1. About a fifth of adults in the US have moved due to Covid-19 or know someone who did, a new study shows

Millions of Americans relocated this year because of the COVID-19 outbreak, moving out of college dorms that abruptly closed, communities they perceive as unsafe, or housing they can no longer afford. Overall, around one-in-five U.S. adults (22%) say they either changed their residence due to the pandemic or know someone who did, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. 3% say they themselves moved permanently or temporarily due to the coronavirus pandemic, and 6% say someone moved into their household because of it. An additional 14% of those who did not personally experience relocation say they know someone else who moved.  

2. Georgia Tech Researchers Release County-Level Calculator to Estimate Risk of COVID-19 Exposure at Events

An interactive dashboard created by Georgia Tech researchers provides a county-level calculator to estimate the risk of COVID-19 exposure at events. Learn more about the calculator here and explore the risk for events of varying sizes in your county here.This map shows the risk level of attending an event, given the event size and location (assuming 10:1 ascertainment bias). The risk level is the estimated chance (0-100%) that at least 1 COVID-19 positive individual will be present at an event in a county, given the size of the event. Choose an event size. Use the drop-down menu to choose a county you would like to zoom in on.

3. Coronavirus: German military training sniffer dogs

Sniffer dogs can detect explosives and drugs, but can they also detect COVID-19? The German military and a veterinary university foundation are working with various breeds of sniffer dogs tofind out. German military sniffer dogs are being trained to detect coronavirus infections in human saliva as part of a joint study between the Bundeswehr, the country's armed forces, and the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, Foundation (TiHo). As part of the project, a group of 10 canines made up of sheep dogs, spaniels and retrievers are sniffing samples of infected people. "With a hit rate of approximately 80%, researchers in Ulmen are well on their way to successfully continuing the project," the dog training center was quoted by the German news agency DPA as saying. Read more here.  

4. Gilead says remdesivir coronavirus treatment reduces risk of death

CNBC reported that Gilead Sciences published new data last Friday on its antiviral drug remdesivir that shows it reduced the risk of death for severely sick coronavirus patients by 62% compared with standard care alone.  

5. Cell phone data show Americans hit the road over July 4, even as coronavirus surged

For the Fourth of July weekend, a new analysis of cell phone data suggests even more people hit the road among 10 coronavirus hotspots, despite warnings from health experts. Mobility, experts say, is one driver of transmission of the novel coronavirus. The analysis comes from data shared with CNN by Cuebig, one of the private companies that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses to track general movement in the United States. Cuebiq gets its data when people download apps on their phones and opt into anonymous location data tracking. The company's full data set includes 15 million phones nationwide.

For the Fourth of July holiday weekend, the data show that the numbers of people traveling were generally higher overall than Memorial Day weekend. The July 4 weekend was generally recognized as Friday, Saturday and Sunday, while Memorial Day weekend in May was Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Cuebiq focused on the number of visitors to and from 10 metro area hotspots from a week prior to the July 4 weekend. The metropolitan areas had been ranked by the percent positive Covid-19 tests the week prior in a presentation by the White House Coronavirus Task Force. The analysis included the Houston; Austin, Texas; Phoenix; Dallas; San Antonio; Orlando; Tampa, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina; Miami; and Atlanta areas.  

6. CDC adds runny nose, nausea to the growing list of COVID-19 symptoms

Congestion, runny nose, nausea and diarrhea are the four most recent COVID-19 symptoms that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added to its growing list of potential signs of the novel coronavirus. The CDC previously said symptoms include chills, fever, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and a new loss of taste or smell. The agency now lists 11 symptoms on its website.

7. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of three hundred thirty-three (333) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.   Tests Completed: 2,977
Positive Results: 481 (393 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.) 
Negative Results: 2,464 Pending Results: 32

  • Currently the hospital has four patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19 and two others awaiting results.
  • The hospital will be hosting a drive-through testing site once per week (every Monday) at different locations around town. There is no doctor’s order required, but please arrive with an ID and your insurance card if you have insurance. The testing site will be open from 8 am to noon on Mondays and the schedule is listed below:
    • July 20: Mount Zion Baptist Church on Whitman Street, Toccoa
    • July 27: The Pointe Church, 4387 GA17, Toccoa

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 620
Positive Results: 90
Negative Results: 515 Pending Results: 15 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

8. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 7/14

1. With COVID-19 Cases on the Rise, the State Prepares to Reactive the Hospital at the Georgia World Congress Center

The AJC has reported that Governor Brian Kemp’s office has said that the temporary hospital at the Georgia World Congress Center, which opened in April and was closed a month later, will soon be reactivated to relieve healthcare systems struggling with the rising numbers of COVID-19 patients.  Read the full article here. Remember that you can track the hospital capacity in your region by checking the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency’s Daily Situation Report that is posted on their Facebook page. This report highlights the counties most impacted by COVID-19 and provides a summary of medical facility resources by region. The report is posted every afternoon following the release of the updated numbers from the Georgia Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Status Report.

2. Georgia Counties Launch Mask Up Initiatives

Many Georgia counties are joining in the push to encourage their residents to wear face coverings while in public. One of the latest campaigns is Mask Up Sumter County. The campaign features community leaders explaining why they mask up.

3. U.S. Census Bureau’s Weekly Pulse Newsletter Provides Insight on How Households are Faring

The U.S. Census Bureau has released some interesting statistics on how households across the country are faring in the midst of COVID-19, based on responses collected from June 25 – 30, 2020.  For a look at the numbers, click here.

  4. 3D Printing Lessons Learned from COVID-19 (And How They Will Change Manufacturing’s Future)

As a result of these challenges, this crisis brought 3D printing into countless people’s lives for the very first time. For many, their introduction to 3D printing technology has been personal protective equipment (PPE) or testing equipment—like a face shield, mask, or nasal swab—helping them stay safe. Well beyond this pandemic, the recent lessons learned from 3D printing will propagate throughout future-minded industries and into consumers’ lives in four critical ways: supply chains will transform; creativity and design will accelerate; entire ecosystems will realign; and values will progress.

Supply Chains Must be Engineered to Adapt
Supply chains cannot just center on efficiency; they must also focus on risk mitigation. Digital manufacturing capabilities can be a valuable safeguard against external risk factors, reducing or altogether eliminating the downtime of trying to find more local or accessible suppliers.  

Innovation That Reimagines Can Also Reconfigure in a Crisis
Companies that were able to leverage digital manufacturing to shift their operations in just days want to harness that speed and agility again—either with new solutions or by reconfiguring existing ones. What’s also intensifying is the drive for innovative companies to unseat incumbent legacy brands through technology. What COVID-19 taught us was that the same mindset that allows companies to disrupt industries in the first place also moves them to reinvent during a crisis.  

Value-Driven Collaboration Is No Longer Optional
COVID-19 has also opened up new avenues for collaboration. As we move forward, companies need to rethink how they compete in the new normal.

Sustainability Has to Be Built In, Not Tacked on
More than half of consumers say their experiences during the pandemic will make them more likely to purchase environmentally friendly products, and 78% say companies could do more to help them make decisions that improve environmental outcomes. Environmental benefits are inherent to 3D printing—from lower distribution emissions, to more eco-friendly materials, to the fact that less material is required for production.

Here's a link to the complete IndustryWeek article.  

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of three hundred twenty-three (323) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  
Tests Completed: 2,977
Positive Results: 481 (393 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.) 
Negative Results: 2,464 Pending Results: 32

  • Currently the hospital has four patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19 and two others awaiting results.
  • The hospital will be hosting a drive-through testing site once per week (every Monday) at different locations around town. There is no doctor’s order required, but please arrive with an ID and your insurance card if you have insurance. The testing site will be open from 8am to noon on Mondays and the schedule is listed below:
    • July 20: Mount Zion Baptist Church on Whitman Street, Toccoa
    • July 27: The Pointe Church, 4387 GA17, Toccoa

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 620
Positive Results: 90
Negative Results: 515 Pending Results: 15 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

6. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz

 

COVID-19 Update - 7/13

1. Governor Brian Kemp Launches Georgia Safety Promise

Last week, Governor Brian Kemp and the Georgia Department of Public Health launched Georgia Safety Promise, a campaign that encourages businesses and the public to agree to simple, but critical, measures that will help to keep Georgians safe from COVID-19, minimize the virus, and keep Georgia open for business. Counties are encouraged to use the campaign through social media and other community outreach to urge Georgians to wear face coverings, wash their hands, stay six feet apart and sanitize surfaces. In addition, make sure that your business community is aware of this campaign, which helps to mark their establishment as agreeing to take these steps to keep the public and their employees safe. By signing the promise, businesses can download tools to display on their social media and in their businesses. To learn more, visit  Georgia Safety Promise. image.png  

2. Exposing the Top Ten Manufacturing Tech Trends of the 2020s

The author of this IndustryWeek article has been involved in directing the Manufacturing & Technology Conference & Expo. Here are some of the tech trends that will define the next decade: Robotics, Cybersecurity, Exoskeletons, Augmented Reality, Low-Code Platforms, 3D Scanning, Machine Data, Mobile Robots, and Skilled Trades. Here's a link to the complete article and the 27-slide picture gallery.  

3. What Would It Take to Reskill Entire Industries?

Considering that the tenth item mentioned in the item above, I'm including this Harvard Business Review article on reskilling. We are in a unique scenario — millions unemployed on the one hand, and rapidly evolving and growing skills needs on the other. There is an opportunity for the former to solve the latter’s problem. With it, comes an urgency for companies, governments, and workers’ organizations to join forces and offer the global workforce clear reskilling pathways. The answers to these three questions are critical if such investments are to reach those who need them most:

1) What Does Reskilling Really Mean?
The article discusses three formats in which reskilling can take place:

  • Formal learning involves going back to college, university, or a training institution.
  • Non-formal learning involves learning activities organized by a training provider or by an employer not leading to or counting towards a recognized qualification or a certificate.
  • Informal learning involves learning from colleagues and supervisors  or even during leisure activities.

As far as the financial investment is concerned, studies show the cost of reskilling is approximately $24,800 per person in the United States. While this calculation varies significantly based on the occupation and job function, it presents a strong case for employers and governments to consider reskilling costs from a holistic perspective. This is an investment that should be jointly borne by employees, employers, and governments, as each entity benefits from the return.

2. How Long Does Reskilling Take?
The well-popularized (and criticized) answer to this question is 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve expertise. But all agree on the value of a conscious, long-term time commitment. It is safe to say that those who wish to successfully reskill should be ready to commit significant time to the endeavor. Individual courses can take 480 hours of live instruction, either online or in a physical classroom, and are often delivered over an intense 12-week period.

3. How Can We Make Reskilling a Reality for All?
Given what we know about reskilling, its various formats, costs, and how long it can take, the article points out that there are three concrete policies governments and labor organizations can deploy to make it available to all.

  • Create and empower tripartite sector skills councils (SSCs). SSCs are non-profit organizations focused on helping a single industry sector define and close its skills gaps. These groups typically collaborate with relevant government bodies to provide representatives from employers’ and workers’ organizations with critical information about newly critical skills. 
  • Support small businesses. Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) often need more financial and technical resources to reskill their employees. Support from the public sector is vital. 
  • Make reskilling more accessible to individual employees.

4. Lessons from Reopenings

According to an article in the Business Journals' National Observer, employers are inching back to the office, but there are still questions about doing it right. Here’s how some companies are approaching the unique challenges of reopening, along with a look at the impact their decisions are having:

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of three hundred twenty-two (322) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  
Tests Completed: 2,887
Positive Results: 379 (309 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.) 
Negative Results: 2,310 Pending Results: 198

  • Currently the hospital has two patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19 and two others awaiting results.
  • Beginning today, Monday, July 13, 2020 the hospital will be hosting a drive-through testing site once per week (every Monday) at different locations around town. There is no doctor’s order required, but please arrive with an ID and your insurance card if you have insurance. The testing site will be open from 8am to noon on Mondays and the schedule is listed below:
    • July 13: Mable Thomas Scott Senior Center, 55 Rose Lane Park Drive, Toccoa
    • July 20: Mount Zion Baptist Church on Whitman Street, Toccoa
    • July 27: The Pointe Church, 4387 GA17, Toccoa

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 620
Positive Results: 90
Negative Results: 515 Pending Results: 15 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

6. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 7/10

1. Stephens County Hospital offers COVID-19 testing

Carmen Kisner, RN, Infection Control and Joint Commission Coordinator, Stephens County Hospital is announcing details for COVID-19 testing. With each of these locations below, the patient should come prepared with picture ID and insurance card if they have insurance.  Patients are encouraged to bring the completed attached form with them to speed the testing process. The patient will not be balance billed for Covid testing if uninsured or underinsured. 

Workwell 
Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 10:30 am except holidays when the practice is closed. No physician's order or appointment needed. Masks are encouraged. 

Outpatient Lab
Monday through Friday 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm except holidays when the outpatient lab is closed. Physician's order required. Patients will have to register upon arrival in outpatient registration and should use the outpatient entrance. Mask is required to enter the hospital, if you do not have a mask one will be provided upon your arrival. 

Community Based Testing
Drive-up COVID testing in the Community from 8: am to 12:00 noon, see date and location below. These will be held each Monday with the exception of Labor Day week when it will be held on Tuesday.  Mask is encouraged. 

  • Monday, July 13th at the Mable Thomas Scott Senior Center, 55 Rose Lane Park Drive, Toccoa 
  • Monday July 20th at Mount Zion Baptist Church on Whitman Street, Toccoa
  • Monday July 27th at The Pointe Church, 4387 GA17 Toccoa Monday
  • August 3rd at the Mable Thomas Scott Senior Center, 55 Rose Lane Park Dr, Toccoa

***Patients are encouraged to bring the completed attached form with them to speed the testing process**  

2. Coins are Needed

Anyone with a jar of loose change sitting around the house is being encouraged to cash it in, as banks deal with a shortage of coins caused by a variety of issues related to the pandemic. As more people deploy electronic payments, the minting of new coins has dropped during the past five years, but as the pandemic caused people to stop spending as much cash, the circulation of coins from the general public went off a cliff.

Coins are out there among the public; it's just a matter of getting them back into circulation. Kalinda Calkins, senior vice president and treasury market manager for BOK Financial in Kansas City, said cashiers used to roll their eyes if customers tried to pay with exact change. Now, they encourage it.

“We need people to understand that there is a major shortage out there and to search their couch cushions, dig under the car seat and bring in those jars of coins,” Calkins told the Kansas City Business Journal.

3. How to Read Covid-19 Research (and Actually Understand It)

Confused? Surprised? Wondering where the good parts are? WIRED provides a few tips on reading scientific papers to help those of us following along at home.

Check the Source
First step: Look at where it was published. That can offer clues about things like whether the research is finished or still in revision, if it’s been reviewed by other scientists, or whether it’s rigorous enough to be accepted by top journals like the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, or The New England Journal of Medicine.

Know the Format
If a reader wants to dive into reading primary literature, Caltech’s Horii says they shouldn’t approach a study like a book or a news article. “Any sort of expert communication is going to have its own efficient ways of conveying information to a peer group,” she says. She compares scientific studies to knitting patterns: They have their own vocabulary and set of rules that readers need to understand in order to be able to read them. A typical study has six major parts. They generally begin with an abstract, which briefly describes the question the researchers were trying to answer, what data they collected, and what the results were. Then the introduction and literature review sections set the stage and tell readers more about the ideas the researchers were exploring and what previous studies have found. The methods section explains exactly how the study was conducted, which allows other researchers to repeat the experiment to see if they get the same results. Then the results, discussion, and conclusion sections break down what the scientists found and what that might mean. The authors might also bring up any problems or questions they encountered, and suggest avenues for further study. When reading the conclusions, it’s important to understand that the scientists’ data set might support or contradict a hypothesis, but it won’t definitively prove or disprove a hypothesis.

Go for the Gold Standards
It’s hard to set strict gold standards for studies on Covid-19 because the disease is being studied in real time by experts in multiple disciplines. What works in a lab setting for researchers testing out different vaccine candidates won’t necessarily apply to scientists studying nonpharmaceutical interventions like masks out in the real world. But there are a few best practices for medical studies that show the research methods are rigorous. One is that the study has a control or placebo group. That neutral group doesn’t get the drug or treatment at all and can be directly compared with the groups that did. Another is that the study is a randomized “double-blind” trial, in which neither the test subjects nor the scientists know who received the placebo and who got the active drug. But, says Grabowksi, that’s not always possible. She says an observational study that includes good data and a big enough sample size can still be useful and informative.

Beware Shocking Claims
Above all, experts say, don’t immediately buy into claims that are wildly inconsistent with what previous research has shown. New, groundbreaking findings make great headlines, but they rarely make good science. “Any one study is not definitive. Almost never,” says Stuart. “It’s really a body of evidence emerging.” Science builds on itself slowly. Findings have to be reviewed by other experts and then replicated in different settings and populations before the community is ready to make any really big claims.

4. Bill to Establish New Federal Institute of Manufacturing Praised by Trade Groups

The proposed institute would propose and coordinate all federal manufacturing programs.

On July 8, Senator Gary Peters of Michigan introduced legislation proposing a new independent federal institute, the National Institute of Manufacturing. The bill received statements of support from industry groups, including the Association for Equipment Manufacturers, the Alliance for American Manufacturing, and the American Foundry Society. The bill proposes the new institute would be led by a Chief Manufacturing Officer, whose chief responsibility would be to create and implement a “National Strategic Plan for Manufacturing” for the executive branch. The institute would also serve as a kind of hub for various federal manufacturing programs currently spread across multiple agencies, with an eye towards navigating near-term supply chain issues surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic as well as long-term issues of national manufacturing strategy. Here's a link to the IndustryWeek article.

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of two hundred eighty-six (286) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  
Tests Completed: 2,691
Positive Results: 350 (290 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.) 
Negative Results: 2,269 Pending Results: 69

  • Currently the hospital has no patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 584
Positive Results: 87
Negative Results: 487 Pending Results: 10 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

6. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 7/9

1. PPP data released by SBA

The U.S. Small Business Administration has released a redacted slice of Paycheck Protection Program data that identifies recipients ($150k and up) as well as the extent of jobs supported by the $659 billion program during the country's initial economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic. Rather than identifying specific loan amounts, the data is bracketed in buckets ranging from $150,000 to $350,000; $350,000 to $1 million; $1 million to $2 million; $2 million to $5 million; and $5 million to $10 million. The data is the most detailed yet about the program, which is the federal government's primary COVID-19 relief effort for small business, and its release follows weeks of legal challenges by major media companies seeking public access to the data. FYI, The summary for Stephens County participants is 35 PPP Loans, ranging from $150k-$2m, from 11 different lending institutions, retaining an aggregate of 2,433 jobs.  

2. Georgia's public university system will require all faculty, staff, students and visitors to wear face coverings

The University System of Georgia will require "all faculty, staff, students and visitors" to wear face coverings while inside campus facilities and buildings where six feet social distancing may not always be possible. According to a new policy posted Monday, face covering use will be mandatory beginning July 15 and will be in addition to, and not a substitute for, social distancing. "Face coverings are not required in one’s own dorm room or suite, when alone in an enclosed office or study room, or in campus outdoor settings where social distancing requirements are met," the new policy states. "Anyone not using a face covering when required will be asked to wear one or must leave the area. Repeated refusal to comply with the requirement may result in discipline through the applicable conduct code for faculty, staff or students," it adds. Reasonable accommodations may be made for those who are unable to wear a face covering for documented health reasons, it also says.  

3. Fever checks are a flawed way to flag COVID-19 cases. Experts say smell tests might help.

According to an article at STATNews.com, temperature checks could well join the long list of fumbled responses to the pandemic, from the testing debacle to federal officials’ about-face on masks.  A growing body of science suggests a simple fix: make smell tests another part of routine screenings. Of all the nose-to-toes symptoms of Covid-19, the loss of the sense of smell — also known as anosmia — could work particularly well as an add-on to temperature checks, significantly increasing the proportion of infected people identified by screening in airports, workplaces, and other public places. As experts have cast around for other screening tools, some have zeroed in on smell tests, which could be as simple as asking people to identify a particular scent from a scratch-and-sniff card. To avoid cultural bias (not everyone knows what bubblegum or grass smells like), a test for anosmia in Covid-19 could have a standard amount of phenyl-ethyl alcohol (which smells like roses) on a swab or stick and have people sniff it. A second stick could have less, testing for diminished sense of smell. A third stick could be a blank, to identify people who falsely claim they can smell. The article does acknowledge that a key unanswered question is a smell test’s “negative predictive value”. In a comment from a reader, the point was made that, "My initial reaction is that a smell test is just as problematic as a fever test, if it’s going to be used to bar people from buildings. In BOTH cases, I suspect that (1) the majority of people barred will not be infectious with COVID, and (2) the majority of people who are infectious with COVID will be admitted. And what appeal, if any, is available to the person barred from entry? It seems like we have a lot of downside with very little upside."  

4. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of two hundred eighty (280) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 2,691
Positive Results: 350 (290 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.) 
Negative Results: 2,269 Pending Results: 69

  • Currently the hospital has no patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 584
Positive Results: 87
Negative Results: 487 Pending Results: 10 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

5. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 7/8

1. What's Stephens County's COVID risk?

This article, published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, features a new interactive map and data analysis released this week by Harvard University. The map and analysis seeks to help the public and policymakers understand what threat or risk their communities face from the new coronavirus. According to the dashboard, Stephens County had 34.6 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 on a rolling seven-day average, as of July 3. That places the county at “Covid Risk Level: Red” on a green, yellow, orange and red scale, with red counties being at the greatest risk of the coronavirus. This is how Harvard analysis defines the color-coded risk scale based on daily new cases per 100,000 people:

  • Red: More than 25
  • Orange: 10 to 25
  • Yellow: 1 to 10
  • Green: Less than 1

The Georgia rate is 23.7. There are three Georgia counties that have a green risk level; 42 are yellow; 81 counties are rated orange; 34 have a red risk. A majority of the counties categorized as red are clustered in the central and southern portion of the state.

Here’s the color rating for other counties surrounding Stephens County:

  • Banks: Yellow: 9.7
  • Habersham: Orange: 16.7
  • Hart: Orange: 10.4
  • Franklin: Orange: 16.5
  • Rabun: Orange: 11.7

I spoke to Carmen Kisner, Stephens County Hospital's Director of Infectious Control. She attributes our increase in numbers, in part, to our aggressive testing. While surrounding counties have limited access to testing facilities, requests for testing at both the Stephens County Hospital and the NGPG Toccoa Clinic have gone through the roof. Here in Stephens County we have had several industries request testing for all of their employees. All of our area camps and boarding schools have been testing all employees. Additionally, the hospital has conducted several drive-throughs targeted for specific populations.  She also mentioned that in the overwhelming majority of these positive tests, the individuals were "dumbfounded" that they were positive as they were asymptomatic. Her advice moving forward is to conscientiously follow CDC guidelines to wash hands, stay home if you feel sick, social distance and wear masks when you are around people.  I will be sharing additional information as available.  

2. These Are The Top 10 Issues Affecting Real Estate In 2020 And 2021  

I know this daily update goes to manufacturers, but several of the items on this list of real estate issues are also pertinent to manufacturers. From No. 10 to No. 1., these are the top issues The Counselors of Real Estate, an invitation-only group of international real estate experts, see impacting the real estate market today:

10: Environmental, Social and Governance As millennial investors and climate change experts gain a greater footing in the real estate and public opinion spaces, environmental, social and governance issues are expected to become critical components of how real estate investment dollars are spent in the future.

9: Infrastructure Infrastructure in the U.S. is critical to ensuring the nation's real estate market has the logistics, transportation systems, technologies and highways needed to transport goods and connect businesses and customers.

8: Technology and Workflow The coronavirus chased most U.S. workers home in March, highlighting the need for office tenants, businesses and landlords to operate remotely and enhance their workflow solutions on-site and off-site.

7: Space Utilization The coronavirus outbreak may have a lasting impact on how real estate developers and operators establish building occupancy, density, floor plans, mechanics and exterior and interior building configurations.

6: The Flow of People With a May Harris Poll saying nearly 40% of urbanites intend to flee urban centers for less dense areas and suburbs and foreign travel and immigration grinding to a halt, the flow of people is expected to be the sixth-most-significant issue impacting real estate in 2020-2021.

5: Affordable Housing Affordable housing remains a critical issue for U.S. real estate professionals, but they continue to struggle with how to finance it and combat strong feelings from residents that don't want this type of product in their neighborhoods.

4: The Public and Private Debt Bomb The debt that individuals and the U.S. carry is going to have a significant impact on the nation's real estate market for years to come. The Counselors notes that the U.S. national debt now sits at $26 trillion, up from $23 trillion six months ago. That equates to $210K per taxpayer, and the Counselors say it is hurting savings and investments.

3: Capital Markets Disruption The coronavirus and ensuring economic fallout disrupted the U.S. capital markets, leaving real estate analysts with numerous ambiguities like uncertain real estate values, difficult underwriting scenarios and zero interest rates, the report says.

2: Economic Renewal The state of the U.S. economy, with the pandemic deepening debt and job growth issues underpinning the economy.

1: The Coronavirus The coronavirus outbreak itself. More than any other issue, the virus is a game changer that will either reduce demand for office and hospitality space across the nation or expand demand for additional office space as social distancing forces landlords and tenants to dedicate more floor space to individuals. Read the full BISNOW article here.  
 

3. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of two hundred sixty-nine (269) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 2,520
Positive Results: 309 (255 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)   
Negative Results: 2,178 Pending Results: 33

  • Currently the hospital has no patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19.
  • The 146 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.  

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 584
Positive Results: 87
Negative Results: 487 Pending Results: 10 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

4. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 7/7

1. Paycheck Protection Program extension signed by President Trump

Last Saturday President Trump signed into law the extension of the Paycheck Protection Program through Aug. 8. The action followed votes by the Senate and House to continue the program beyond its original June 30 deadline. A debate over the program's roughly $130 billion in as-yet-untouched funding is well underway.  

2.Shedding Light On UV-C: Which Post-Pandemic Sterilizing Technologies Are Worth The Spend?

Here are some pull quotes:

"At the beginning [of the pandemic], everybody rushed and bought toilet paper. We’re still not sure why that happened. In a way it's kind of like that with some of these new cleaning technologies: everybody panic-buying without doing the research."

"The proper documentation process seems to be the biggest driver in piquing the interest of owners because there is great value in not only telling your staff but also showing them what has been done."

"In other words, the comfort may come more from the idea that action is being taken than from the measurable impact that action has on reducing the spread of the virus."

"To some extent, optics do play a role in the decision-making process, putting measures in place to ease the minds of both owners and tenants which is, if nothing else, a more attainable goal than certain reduction of risk."

"We need to not say yes to everything that’s out there, not cost our buildings unnecessary money."

"Every other day, there’s something better, but before we put tools in the tenants’ hands, there is a lot to figure out."
Read more at: https://www.bisnow.com/national/news/employer/uv-c-light-and-other-big-questions-for-2020-104976

3. COVID-19 lawsuit protections draw praise, concerns in Georgia

Gwinnett Daily Post article reports that a.mix of relief, fear and uncertainty has cropped up for business leaders and worker advocates in Georgia eyeing new protections for companies and hospitals against coronavirus-related lawsuits. Liability legislation passed the General Assembly last week to shield Georgia businesses and health-care facilities from lawsuits brought by people who contract coronavirus in all but the worst negligence or recklessness cases. Gov. Brian Kemp has not yet decided whether to sign the liability protections into law. His office said Thursday the legislation is still under legal review. If he signs the bill, business groups say the protection measures should lend confidence to a range of Georgia enterprises from mom-and-pop shops to sports stadiums that they will not face crippling litigation due to coronavirus. But union representatives worry workers will be left in the lurch as thousands of front-line and low-wage employees in the state struggle to keep themselves safe from the virus either in the workplace or the courts. Senate Bill 359 would let Georgia businesses and hospitals waive liability for coronavirus-related claims so long as they post certain warning signs and do not willfully or grossly neglect their patrons or workers.Those protections would take effect as soon as Kemp signs the bill and would cover anyone who contracts coronavirus until July 14, 2021.  

4. Be Bold and Prosper

In a commentary in his BBA Economic Digest, Dean Barber reminds us that "during times of crisis, it's the bold that win. Always has, always will be."

“Economic calamities—even tragic, once-a-century global pandemics—require business leaders to find opportunity in the chaos. It’s there to be found. Leaders who can seize it will mitigate the pain for employees, consumers, vendors, communities, and investors. The big lesson from past downturns is that the competitive order within industries will change far more now than it ever will in prosperous times,” writes Geoff Colvin for Fortune. So how should we gain a better understanding of a changing competitive order? Go out in your industry or community and ask, listen, and learn.  

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of two hundred sixty-two (262) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 2,520
Positive Results: 309 (255 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results: 2,178 Pending Results: 33

  • Currently the hospital has no patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, but three (3) other patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.
  • The 146 patients that we have treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 584
Positive Results: 87
Negative Results: 487 Pending Results: 10 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

6. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 7/6

1. World Economic Forum's Next Steps Under COVID-19's New Normal

nsights from the World Economic Forum’s Global Network of Advanced Manufacturing Hubs, as shared in IndustryWeek, provide a list of next steps as manufacturers come back from COVID-19 pandemic.

Ensure Worker Safety
Technology plays a key role in keeping manufacturing workers safe. Identifying carriers of the virus early is key to containing the spread, and manufacturers are leveraging technology to achieve that by setting up self-testing kiosks for their workforce using temperature sensors to screen for fever and manufacturing apps to guide employees through health self-assessment questionnaires. Furthermore, companies are using apps to control access to facilities and restrict non-essential personnel, thus minimizing the chance of infection.

Scale and shift when necessary to fight COVID-19
Since the beginning companies have been innovative, responding in different ways to ensure business stability and improve the resilience of their supply chains as they pivot to innovative ways to generate revenue.

Facilitate Supply Chain Collaboration
Organizations are mobilizing industrial and innovation stakeholders to identify future solutions and roadmaps for the after-COVID phase with a more strategic, medium/long-term perspective. They are connecting regional manufacturing with other international ecosystems to establish international synergies in the fight against the disease. Through such multidisciplinary cooperation, they are working to shorten the communication between research and manufacturing and to facilitate the path for the immediate industrialization of critical innovations to fight COVID-19.

Minimize Remote Work Disruptions
The crisis has forced manufacturers to shut down non-essential production and keep non-essential production personnel remote. Technology is facilitating this transition in several ways. Automation is helping some operate with fewer people on the shop floor, especially when technologies like IoT and machine monitoring solutions are used by the remote workforce to keep track of production from home. Worker augmentation is helping manufacturers achieve more with fewer people on the shop floor. Furthermore, companies are leveraging apps to facilitate communication and collaboration between in-person shop-floor personnel and their remote supervisors. Finally, technologies like online learning are letting those staying at home use the downtime to gain the skills their companies need in order to come back for a stronger rebound after the crisis.  

2. Something to Read

The constant stream of news and social media may seem like it never ends. And while checking your phone for an extra two hours every night won’t stop the apocalypse, it might stop you from being psychologically prepared for it, so reports this Wired article.  

3. Georgia employee poll provides practical insights for leadership’s COVID-19 response

A goBeyondProfit survey of working Georgians captured the current opinions and worries of the state’s workforce. Actionable takeaways for business leaders:

Stay visible and communicate frequently. Respondents gave their employers high scores for demonstrating care for employees (76% excellent/good rating) and communicating well with transparency (70% excellent/good).

Address both practical and emotional concerns. Employees were most concerned about job security (25%), followed closely by coronavirus exposure (23%) and the health of family/self/friends (23%). Seventy-five percent of employees agree they want their employer to communicate about steps they’re taking to reopen safely, and 78% agree they want to feel their work environment is safe from Covid-19. They are focused on business health and recovery, too. A full 75% also want “frequent updates on business recovery progress,” according to the survey results, and 65% rated their employers excellent/good at “adapting the business to market shifts.”

Demonstrate appreciation for individual employees’ value and connect their work to a broader purpose. Three-quarters of employees surveyed agree they want to “feel appreciated and valued by the business.” Respondents ranked wanting a sense of purpose in their work (75%) even higher than flexibility of work location for Covid-19 contingencies (68%). Outreach efforts to help community needs were highly rated (65% rated excellent or good) in employers’ pandemic response, which can tie to an employee’s sense of purpose at work in addition to communicating how each role within the business contributes to the health of both the company and the community.

Acknowledge that employees are emotionally impacted. Respondents rated their mental well-being as better than neutral. But a majority – 66% — want their employer to “understand they are emotionally impacted by the pandemic.” Find a full report and data charts here.  

4. Big Thoughts on Small Talk

That office chitchat you’re not engaging in while working at home: It likely boosted your positive feelings at work. Those are the findings of researchers from Rutgers University and the University of Exeter Business School, reviewing data from 151 workers in different industries. The results suggest that light-hearted exchanges with colleagues can have an “uplifting yet distracting” effect on workers, but with the positive outweighing the negative. “Small talk softens controversial conversations, enhances mood, creates positive group climates and facilitates a sense of belonging,” according to study co-author Jessica Methot. Such conversations also aren’t the same through the likes of Slack and Zoom. “It’s really hard to replicate its value when you’re not located in the same setting,” Methot said.  

5. Stephens County Update The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of two hundred sixty-two (262) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 2,486
Positive Results: 291
Negative Results: 2,110 Pending Results: 85

  • Currently the hospital has no patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, but three (3) other patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 584
Positive Results: 87
Negative Results: 487 Pending Results: 10 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

6. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz

COVID-19 Update - 7/2

1. I've pretty much dedicated today's update to McKinsey & Company.

These 10 articles were the most popular with McKinsey.com readers during Second Quarter 2020. I included some of these links in previous emails.

  1. COVID-19: Implications for business
    Our latest perspectives on the coronavirus outbreak, the twin threats to lives and livelihoods, and how organizations can prepare for the next normal.  more  
  2. The future is not what it used to be: Thoughts on the shape of the next normal
    The coronavirus crisis is a world-changing event. Here are seven elements for business leaders to consider as they plan for the next normal. more  
  3. Getting ahead of the next stage of the coronavirus crisis
    First the virus, now the economic fallout—you need to launch your plan-ahead team. more
  4. From surviving to thriving: Reimagining the post-COVID-19 return
    For many, the toughest leadership test is now looming: how to bring a business back in an environment where a vaccine has yet to be found and economies are still reeling. more  >
  5. Consumer sentiment is evolving as countries around the world begin to reopen
    As restrictions lift and pockets of spending return, consumer behavior begins to adapt to the next normal. more  >
  6. From thinking about the next normal to making it work: What to stop, start, and accelerate
    As businesses step into the post-coronavirus future, they need to find a balance between what worked before and what needs to happen to succeed in the next normal. more  >
  7. How to restart national economies during the coronavirus crisis
    By recognizing differences among regions and sectors, governments can get people back to work faster and safeguard our livelihoods. more  >
  8. The Restart
    Eight actions CEOs can take to ensure a safe and successful relaunch of economic activity. more  >
  9. Digital strategy in a time of crisis
    Now is the time for bold learning at scale. more  >
  10. Charting the path to the next normal
    A daily chart that helps explain a changing world—during the pandemic and beyond. more  

2. Reframe your thinking to combat quarantine fatigue

Human beings are social animals and often motivated by pleasure, a combination which can make pandemic rules designed for our safety challenging to follow. As we become numb to coronavirus statistics and news over time, it's important not to slide into a feeling of security that lets us feel that bending the rules won't matter. Getting outside, meditating or finding safe ways to socialize -- like creating a "quaranteam" -- will help avoid increasing risk to yourself and others. Full Story: Scary Mommy (6/17),  WKYC-TV (Cleveland) (6/18),  ABC News (6/20) 

3. Airport layouts could get post-pandemic overhauls

Larger terminals, fever-detecting cameras, virtual line-ups and biometrics-enabled electronic boarding gates could all be in the future for airports as officials work to ensure the safety of both travelers and staff post-pandemic. "We're trying to do everything we can to make sure that our airport terminals are a safe environment, and we're making sure that we're doing everything we can to make it healthy for people to come in," says Justin Erbacci, chief executive of Los Angeles World Airports. Full Story: Forbes (6/18),  Airport Technology (UK) (6/18),  The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (6/23),  WESA-FM (Pittsburgh) (6/22) 

4. FBI warns of fraudulent Covid-19 antibody tests

Scammers are taking advantage of the high demand for Covid antibody tests—which can tell patients if they've been infected with the virus previously—to glean medical information for identity theft schemes, says the FBI. The bureau says to be careful of unverifiable FDA approvals, advertisements for antibody testing, and marketers offering free tests.  

5.Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of two hundred thirty-four (234) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 2,369
Positive Results: 261
Negative Results: 1,941 Pending Results: 167

  • Currently the hospital has no patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, but one (1) patient is currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 519
Positive Results: 85
Negative Results: 428 Pending Results: 6 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

6. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 7/1

1. Gov. Kemp Extends COVID-19 Executive Orders

Governor Brian P. Kemp has signed two executive orders extending the Public Health State of Emergency and existing COVID-19 safety measures.

Executive Order 06.29.20.01 extends the Public Health State of Emergency through 11:59 PM on August 11, 2020. The Public Health State of Emergency allows for enhanced coordination across government and the private sector for supply procurement, comprehensive testing, and healthcare capacity.
Executive Order 06.29.20.02 continues to require social distancing, bans gatherings of more than fifty people unless there is six feet between each person, outlines mandatory criteria for businesses, and requires sheltering in place for those living in long-term care facilities and the medically fragile. The order also outlines that the State Board of Education must provide "rules, regulations, and guidance for the operation of public elementary and secondary schools for local boards of education" in accordance with guidance from Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the Department of Public Health, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The order runs through 11:59 PM on July 15, 2020.

Read here Executive Orders 06.29.20.01 and 06.29.20.02  

2. Delta to require health acknowledgement by customers at check-in

Delta Air Lines will soon require customers to answer questions about whether they’ve experienced symptoms of COVID-19, or been in contact with someone who has, as part of the check-in process.Starting in mid-July, the Atlanta-based airline said, passengers will be required to fill out a health acknowledgment form. Passengers also must agree to face mask requirements during travel. Passengers are encouraged to bring their own mask, but Delta can also provide masks to those who don’t have them.    

3. 7 Actions Businesses Need to Take Now

This publication from Oracle NetSuite breaks down the actions into seven areas to use as your playbook as the economy reopens and provides a checklist to ensure that you don't overlook some of the critical actions that will be required as your business responds to a reopened economy:

  1. Business Model Assessment
  2. Financial Check
  3. Health/Safety/Legal
  4. Scenario Planning
  5. Customer Retention & Acquisition
  6. Packaging/Pricing/Payments
  7. Organizational Alignment  

4. COVID-19 Implication for business

In this Executive Briefing, McKinsey & Company offers its latest perspectives on the coronavirus outbreak, the twin threats to lives and livelihoods, and how organizations can prepare for the next normal.  

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of two hundred twenty-four (224) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 1,698
Positive Results: 185 (135 different people, some have tested positive more than once.)
Negative Results: 1,457 Pending Results: 56

  • The 113 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has no patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, but four (4) other patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 519
Positive Results: 85
Negative Results: 428 Pending Results: 6 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

6. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz

COVID-19 Update - 6/30

1. Stephens County Schools Plan for Reopening 

These guidelines are subject to change as the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are very fluid, but as of now, the first day for Stephens County Schools will be Wednesday, August 5, 2020. Please see the attached two-page document from Superintendent Dr. Daniel Oldham outlining their plans and protocols for facilitating learning and safety. Expect updates and more details as we progress towards the beginning of school.

Here are a few of the items from the Guidelines:  As the District continues to plan for the coming school year, the following are the academic options and support for the 2020-2021 school year.

  • At this time, we are preparing to open schools on August 5, 2020, as originally planned. As part of our reopening plan, students will have two options for instruction.
    • Option 1: Students will attend classes on campus. Schools will operate under the guidelines provided in this document with more details to come in the near future.
    • Option 2: Students will attend school through the Stephens County Distance Learning Protocol. Students will be provided instruction virtually through a consistent plan of instruction that mirrors the instruction being provided within our onsite classrooms.
  • At the end of the first month of school, parents and students that choose to continue their education through the Stephens County Distance Learning Protocol will be required to stay in the Distance Learning protocol for the remainder of the semester. At the end of the semester, parents can request that their child(ren) be scheduled into a school-based classroom.
  • Parents and students that prefer the Stephens County Distance Learning Protocol may continue their education for the remainder of the school year.
  • Students enrolled in the Stephens County Distance Learning protocol will have access to all extracurricular activities. However, these activities may or may not have the ability to operate through a distanced structure. Parents will have to decide if they want their child(ren) to participate onsite for any extracurricular activity.
  • The District is reviewing all protocols for daily operations, including transportation. Further updates and guidelines will be distributed in the near future.

2.  What bills from the 2020 Georgia legislative session will Governor Brian Kemp sign into law?

Governor Kemp must decide by Aug. 5 whether to approve dozens of measures. Here are two issues of importance to business: 

Business liability

After some end-of-session drama, lawmakers approved a measure to limit the ability of people to sue businesses and health care providers if they are diagnosed with COVID-19. Senate Bill 359 would shield companies from legal liability unless they show “gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm.” Will Kemp sign it? He’s under pressure from pro-business groups to ink the measure.

Surprise billing

After years of debate, lawmakers approved a measure aimed at protecting patients from receiving many, though not all, unexpected medical bills when they’re unknowingly treated by out-of-network doctors in an emergency situation. Will Kemp sign it? It’s very likely. The governor hasn’t said specifically whether he backs House Bill 888, but he’s urged lawmakers to rein in a billing system that is “rigged against them.” Here's a link to the rest of the top measures that passed the General Assembly from the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC).  

3. President Trump Signs Executive Order to Overhaul the Federal Hiring Process

The order seeks to place less emphasis on federal job applicants with college degrees. Here's the link to the Government Executive article. The order requires agencies to increase the use of skill assessments and interviews with subject matter experts to determine an applicant's qualifications, rather than simply looking at educational achievements. Degree requirements will not go away entirely, and certain positions—such as those in medical, legal and certain technical fields—will still require advanced degrees. The goal of the order, Trump administration officials said on Friday, is to create a broader pool of potential federal employees and a more equitable hiring process.

4. Feeling uncomfortable with the reentry? You’re on the right track.

An essential early step will be effectively addressing the anxieties of millions of workers who are worried about the future of their work and their health. To beat anxiety, the scientific evidence tells us to pay attention to what we instinctively want to do and then actively consider its opposite. Here are three paradoxical strategies — rooted in neuroscience and psychology — designed to help leaders manage current anxieties as they relate to performance management, communication, and leadership effectiveness.

  • Performance management: The reflex is to exert greater control, but the solution is more flexibility. 
  • Communication: Overcommunication is encouraged, but less is more. 
  • Effective leadership: To be tough, you must first get soft.

Here's a link to the Harvard Business Review article.  

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of two hundred sixteen (216) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 1,698
Positive Results: 185 (135 different people, some have tested positive more than once.)
Negative Results: 1,457 Pending Results: 56

  • The 113 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has no patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, but four (4) other patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 519
Positive Results: 85
Negative Results: 428 Pending Results: 6 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

6. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 6/29

1. COVID-19 Legislation

The Georgia General Assembly has passed legislation to keep in place certain unemployment benefits that were expanded in Georgia during the coronavirus pandemic. Those who qualify for unemployment benefits are granted leeway to collect payments for up to 26 weeks instead of the usual 14 weeks, and enjoy a boost in the allowance rate that lets them keep up to $300 per week in wages earned – instead of the usual $50 – on top of their benefits. We'll be watching this issue closely. It now awaits the Governor's signature. Here's a link to the actual legislation.  

2. COVID-19 Recession Will Be Worse Than Expected, Predicts IMF

Tempering the bad news were findings that the rate of manufacturing contraction reached a four-month low in June. Here's the link to the IndustryWeek article. The International Monetary Fund updated its predictions for the COVID-19 recession June 24, saying its April prediction was not severe enough. The IMF now anticipates the global economy to contract by 4.9% in 2020, or 1.9 points more than it expected in April. The GDP of advanced economies, including the United States, are expected to shrink by a crushing 8.0%.

Depending on how the pandemic evolves, the updated forecast anticipates persistent social distancing in the first half of 2020, more lasting damage to suppliers from the first two quarters of 2020, and suppressed productivity in businesses incorporating extensive workplace safety procedures. But it also lacks information on a host of pandemic-related unknowns: the long-term effect of COVID-19 related layoffs and furloughs, the length of voluntary social distancing, the impact of doing business with costly safety practices, and how effectively companies reconfigure their international supply chains.

The updated report was released a day after IHS Markit’s Flash U.S. Composite PMI report, which found signs for optimism in the near-term. Their composite U.S. PMI found the softest month-over-month decrease yet in June as the index rose to 46.8% from 37.0 in May. In manufacturing, the PMI added more than ten points to land at 49.6 after reaching 39.8 in May, a four-month high for the figure. IHS Markit attributed the gain to easing lockdowns.  

3. Wear a Mask to Get Economy Going Says the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)

Here's a link to an IndustryWeek article and 60-second commercial that's part of an ad campaign called "Wear a Face Covering" and is designed to “keep our economy growing and protect American families.”

4. Why face mask guidance has changed so much

Scientists are constantly learning more about it -- including more reasons why wearing masks is so important:

  • It's possible to spread this virus by just talking or breathing.
  • This coronavirus is contagious. Without mitigation efforts like stay-at-home orders, each person with the coronavirus infects, on average, another two to three other people. That makes it twice as contagious as the flu.
  • It's possible to spread the coronavirus without any symptoms -- either from asymptomatic carriers or pre-symptomatic carriers.
  • This virus has a long incubation period -- up to 14 days -- giving a wide window of opportunity for people to infect others before they even know they're infected.
  • Carriers may be most contagious in the 48 hours before they get symptoms, making transmission even more blind.

In other words, it's not just people who are sneezing and coughing who can spread coronavirus. It's often people who look completely normal and don't have a fever. Here's a link to the Gwinnett Daily Post article.  

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of two hundred twelve (212) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 1,698
Positive Results: 185 (135 different people, some have tested positive more than once.)
Negative Results: 1,457 Pending Results: 56

  • The 113 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has no patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, but four (4) other patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 519
Positive Results: 85
Negative Results: 428 Pending Results: 6 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

6. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 6/26

1. We Choose Optimism

Here are some positive notes as collected by our friends at Agracel:

  • Federal Reserve reported June 16 that total industrial production increased by 1.4% in May as many factories around the country returned from lock-down to reopen production at reduced rates. Nationally, the industrial production rate remains 15.4% below its level in February, before the COVID-19 pandemic began negatively impacting production in March. Output rose 3.8% in May as most major industries posted increases, including motor vehicles and parts. (IndustryWeek)
  • Forbes headline states, “Due to COVID-19, Manufacturing Will Experience Five Years of Innovation in the Next 18 Months”. Between solutions that leverage the power of the cloud for visibility and automation that optimized work, necessity will drive invention: manufacturers will do five years of innovation in the next 18 months. (Forbes)
  • ISM Manufacturing Index rose to 43.1 in May from 41.5 in April. Levels above 50 indicate expansion in the industry. We expect this index to continue to gradually rise. (ISM)
  • According to a Thomas survey in April of 878 North American manufacturing and industrial sector professionals, as disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic continue to unfold, 64% of the companies surveyed “are likely to bring manufacturing production and sourcing back to North America,” to avoid similar difficulties in the future. Among industries, manufacturing reported the most interest in nearshoring, with 28% of manufacturing respondents saying they were “extremely likely” to bring more production and sourcing back to North America following the pandemic. (SupplyChainDive)

2. Small Business Owners Expect Swift Recovery

A survey from the Society for Human Resource Management found that 52% of small businesses expect to recover to pre-COVID profitability in six months or less. Here's the full article.

3. What's In the New NAFTA?

Here's a look at five of the USMCA issues, scheduled to go into effect July 1.

  1. Cheaper Small Exports to Canada and Mexico
  2. Rules of Origin for Auto Parts, Steel
  3. New Labor Regulations
  4. Agricultural Markets
  5. Enforcement

4. Pandemic shopping trends fuel warehouse demand

Changing shopping patterns resulting from the pandemic are driving higher demand for warehouse space as retailers update distribution centers, many near larger population hubs, to meet increased demand for online grocery shopping. Industrial leasing activity rose 43% in the 30-day period ending May 14, according to CBRE Group.  Full Story: The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (6/21)

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred ninety (190) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report  This reported death number has dropped back down to five from six. I'm trying to find out why. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.   Tests Completed: 1,698
Positive Results: 185 (135 different people, some have tested positive more than once.)
Negative Results: 1,457 Pending Results: 56

  • The 113 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has no patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, but four (4) other patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 468
Positive Results: 80
Negative Results: 378 Pending Results: 10 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

6. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz

COVID-19 Update - 6/25

1. Trump suspends visas allowing hundreds of thousands of foreigners to work in the U.S.

In a sweeping order, which will be in place at least until the end of the year, President Trump blocked visas for a wide variety of jobs, including those for computer programmers and other skilled workers who enter the country under the H-1B visa, as well as those for seasonal workers in the hospitality industry, students on work-study summer programs and au pairs who arrive under other auspices.
The order also restricts the ability of American companies with global operations and international companies with U.S. branches to transfer foreign executives and other employees to the United States for months or years long stints. And it blocks the spouses of foreigners who are employed at companies in the United States. Here's a link to The New York Times article.


2. HBR: How to monitor your employees while respecting their privacy

This Harvard Business Review story is available via a partnership with the Atlanta Business Chronicle. If your business concludes that it ought to monitor employees, it is still important to do so in a way that respects the workforce. Here are the six recommendations on how to walk that tightrope:

1.       Choose your metrics carefully by involving all relevant stakeholders: 

2.       Be transparent with your employees about what you’re monitoring and why

3.       Offer carrots as well as sticks

4.       Accept that very good workers will not always be able to do very good work all the time

5.       Monitor your own systems to ensure that people of color and other vulnerable groups are not disproportionately affected

6.       Decrease monitoring when and where you can

3. What You Need To Know About Antimicrobial and 'Self-Cleaning' Surfaces

Antimicrobial metals do kill or slow the spread of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, mold and mildew, and for these benefits, they have been used in the healthcare industry for decades. So it should be no surprise that, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, such metals for fixtures, surface coatings, and tools like the "KeyPal" have seen growing market interest while making their way onto office re-entry lists left and right. "Nanocoatings are anti-microbial, antiviral and antifungal. They reduce surface contamination and are self-cleaning. These coatings can be applied by spraying or dipping and adhere to most surfaces,” Ware Malcomb Workplace Strategy Director Cynthia Milota said in the company’s list of office re-entry recommendations. In the office of the future, she said, workers should expect to see “nanoSeptic door handles and door push skins [and] everything from desk and counter mats to mouse pads and tissue box covers.” You can read more here or talk to our friends at Sark Wire.  

4. How and when to get coronavirus test

This KHN story first published on California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation. Here's a link. Here are the highlights: If you have symptoms of COVID-19, such as a fever, cough, sore throat or difficulty breathing, you should seek testing immediately, health care professionals say. If you have no symptoms, here are guideposts for testing:

Timing

Some experts say at least three or four days, others say at least seven. The longer you wait, the greater the chance a test will detect any virus. But you need to weigh that against the risk of exposing others if you are infected. Keep in mind that a test is relevant only for the day you take it. It can take up to three days to receive test results.

How Great Was Your Risk?

“Any large gathering creates risk for transmission,” said Anne Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health. “It’s just common sense that when you have events where people are shouting or singing or chanting and in close proximity to each other, that is the perfect storm.” Indoor gatherings are generally considered far riskier than outdoor ones. Consider: Was it difficult to maintain social distancing? Were people near you not wearing a mask, or coughing, shouting, or singing? Many people, or just one? Do you live in an area with a large number of new COVID-19 cases every day, or where the daily number is increasing? “If your answers to those questions are yes, the risk is greater — and so is the benefit of being tested,” Miller said.

Greater Test Availability

If you decide to get tested, most community health centers now offer testing, as do large urgent care centers and a growing number of CVS and Walgreens pharmacies. Google will show a list of testing sites in your area if you type in “COVID tests near me.” Here locally, check with the Stephens County Hospital or the NGPG Toccoa Clinic. Remember that you want a COVID virus test — not an antibody test, which is designed to detect past infection. Some sites may require a prescription for the test, or restrict testing to people with symptoms and workers deemed essential.

Accuracy Has Improved

FDA-validated home tests have accuracy percentage rates “in the high 90s,” said Mark Cameron, an immunologist and an associate professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland. But since the tests are new and were approved on an emergency basis, take any result with a grain of salt, he suggested. The “nasopharyngeal” test, in which a medical professional slides a long swab to the back of your nasal cavity, is considered by many public health experts to be the gold standard. Less invasive options include oral swabs, shallower nasal swabs and, more recently, a saliva test. That’s why many public health experts recommend that, regardless of testing, you limit interactions with others for 14 days after potential exposure to the virus.

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred eighty-four (184) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report  This reported death number has dropped back down to five from six. I'm trying to find out why. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.   Tests Completed: 1,698
Positive Results: 185 (135 different people, some have tested positive more than once.)
Negative Results: 1,457 Pending Results: 56

  • The 113 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has no patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, but they have four (4) other patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 468
Positive Results: 80
Negative Results: 378 Pending Results: 10 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

6. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.President Donald Trump on Monday temporarily suspended new work visas and barred hundreds of thousands of foreigners from seeking employment in the United States, part of a broad effort to limit the entry of immigrants into the country.

COVID-19 Update - 6/24

1. The Truth About Recruiting

I know this doesn't specifically relate to COVID-19, but it may be of interest to manufacturers. In the whitepaper referenced here and attached below, PSI Services provides practical advice to help navigate complex hiring questions by defining the key variables that determine recruiting costs for manufacturing associates:

  • Compensation Packages vs. Desired Candidate Quality
  • Work Environment and Company Reputation
  • Local Economy and Availability of Candidates

2. What to know about the coronavirus and summertime activities

With the Fourth of July just around the corner and many states and communities relaxing coronavirus restrictions, the warm sunny weather beckons. But infectious-disease experts warn that the virus remains a threat as we return to travel, swimming, barbecues, ice cream shops and restaurants.
So what do we need to know about the new coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes, that is important as we embark on summer activities? Check out the Washington Post article.  

3. Georgia DPH Asks Residents to ‘Answer the Call’ in New Contact Tracing Video

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has released a new video explaining the state’s COVID-19 contact tracing efforts, asking residents to ‘answer the call’ if DPH reaches out.  Contact tracing is an important public health tool used to monitor the spread of infection and identify outbreaks of COVID-19 before they become widespread community transmission.  Click to see the press release and the video.  Please consider sharing the video on your social media, websites and other community outreach to help spread the word!

4. EEOC Updated Guidance Says Employers Cannot Require COVID-19 Antibody Test as a Condition of Returning to Work

The EEOC just released updated guidance instructing that while they still acknowledge previous guidance that it is acceptable under the ADA for employers to require COVID-19 virus testing as a condition for employees to return to the workplace, the EEOC considers employer-required COVID-19 antibody testing (for purposes of detecting whether the employee had the virus in the past) to be an impermissible medical examination that runs afoul of the ADA. Based on that EEOC guidance update, Jarrard & Davis updated their prior summary document concerning “Other Employment Law Considerations” to include a 3rd bullet point to the FAQ #4, listing examples of actions that are not permissible despite the current pandemic. You can see the Jarrard & Davis summary here.

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred eight-two (182) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.   Tests Completed: 1,698
Positive Results: 185 (135 different people, some have tested positive more than once.)
Negative Results: 1,457 Pending Results: 56

  • The 113 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has no patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, but has (4) patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 468
Positive Results: 80
Negative Results: 378 Pending Results: 10 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

6. How can SCDA better serve you?

We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 6/23

1. Gear and Tips to Help You Get Through the Coronavirus Pandemic
The WIRED Gear team has talked to experts (and among themselves) to come up with this master guide to everything you might need right now—and a few things you should avoid buying for the sake of the greater good. Updated as of June 17, 2020. Here are the broad general categories: Food and supplies you might need:

  1. Cloth face mask
  2. Groceries
  3. Water purifier
  4. Water kettle/boiler
  5. First aid kit
  6. A plan if someone gets sick
  7. Medications or baby supplies
  8. Soap and/or hand sanitizer

Stuff you definitely do not need

  1. No medical-grade face masks
  2. No dehydrated food
  3. No (extra) toilet paper or paper towels
  4. No hoarding a ton of anything.

Gear to feel a little calmer at home

  1. Casper weighted blanket for $169 (Amazon, Casper)
  2. Vuori sweatpants for $62 (REI, Vuori)
  3. Calm meditation and sleep app for $12 per month (Android, iOS)

If your kids are stuck at in the house

  1. Look through your own closets for craft projects
  2. Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Kids Headphones for $80 (Amazon, Pure Sound Labs)
  3. Legos
  4. Other STEM toys
  5. Subscription boxes for kids
  6. Podcasts for kids

If you're working from home

  1. Logitech C920S HD Pro Webcam for $70 (Best Buy, B&H)
  2. Netgear Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router or $98 (Amazon, Best Buy)
  3. Contigo Autospout Water Bottle for $9 (Amazon, Walmart)
  4. Noise-canceling headphones

These services are discounted or free right now

  1. Google is offering G Suite customers advanced video conferencing capabilities via Hangouts.
  2. Microsoft is offering six months of its Teams service for free.
  3. Zoom has lifted video call time limits for users in some affected areas as well as schools.
  4. Raddish is offering $15 off a six-month subscription with the coupon ATHOME. 
  5. Comcast is offering two months of its Internet Essentials package to new qualifying customers for free.

If you need something to do

  1. Videogames
  2. Co-op videogames
  3. Movies and TV
  4. Board games
  5. Break a sweat and work out

Watch, listen, or stream anew

  1. Roku Streaming Stick Plus for $40 (Home Depot, Best Buy)
  2. Audiotechnica AT-LP120 USB for $249 (Amazon, Best Buy)
  3. 55-Inch TCL 6 Series for $549 (Amazon, Best Buy)

2. Reboot: What I Will Do Differently Post Pandemic by Ken Ashley Here are nine things I’m going to change in my life as our nation and world heal from this emergency:

  1. Live in the Moment
  2. Experience (more) of the Joy of Learning
  3. Face Fears Head On
  4. Seek Better Balance in Life
  5. Keep Refining Goals till They Are Super Clear
  6. Be an Independent Thinker
  7. Be Intentional about Inclusion
  8. Keep Perspective With an Attitude of Gratitude
  9. Remember That Life is About Seasons (this too shall pass)

3. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred sixty-five (165) confirmed positive cases and five (5) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report  This reported death number has dropped back down to five from six. I'm trying to find out why. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.   Tests Completed: 1,532
Positive Results: 164 (131 different people, some have tested positive more than once.)
Negative Results: 1,283 Pending Results: 85

  • The 110 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has one (1) patient hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and one (1) other patient currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 468
Positive Results: 80
Negative Results: 378 Pending Results: 10 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.  

4. How can SCDA better serve you? We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 6/22

1. Stephens County Schools to Reopen It's not carved in stone, but the Stephens County 2020-2021 school year is scheduled to start as planned on Wednesday, August 5, 2020.


2. Reskilling Workers for a Post-COVID Factory Floor
This IndustryWeek article discusses how the world has transformed more in the last three months than it has for decades – and with it, so has the skillset required. As factories around the U.S. reopen and ramp up production, it has become increasingly clear that COVID-19 has changed the manufacturing ecosystem in ways that will be felt long after the pandemic has passed. Growing trade tensions stemming from the pre-COVID era combined with the massive supply chain disruptions we’ve seen over the past few months are leading to fundamental changes on the factory floor.

Broadly speaking, this will fast forward Industry 4.0 with greater digitization and connectivity of machines, data, additive manufacturing, value chains, and, most importantly, people. The key to harnessing this accelerated automation, and grappling with impacts to the manufacturing labor market, lies in the retraining factory workers.

3. COVID-19 10 Commandments
In a recent message, pastor and author Rick Warren provided 10 Commandments for emotional health during a crisis.

  1. Show grace to myself and others. When faced with a temptation to be impatient, angry, resentful, or jealous this week, ask God for help and His power to switch your thinking. Further your humility by being willing to serve in small ways those around you.
  2. Start and end each day refueling your soul. "Every morning thank God for His love and every evening thank Him for His faithfulness." Psalm 92:2
  3. Set and stick with a simple routine. Create an outline of your day. Be sure to set limits on how late you stay up. Limit screen time. Have meals around the same time each day.
  4. Stop watching so much news. Jesus: "Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your vision is good, your whole being will be full of light. But if you're focused on the bad, your life will be full of darkness!" Matthew 6:22-23
  5. Schedule a daily connection with people you love. "Speak encouraging words to each other. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, with no one left out, and no one left behind. I know you're already doing this; just keep on doing it!" 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (Message)
    Schedule zoom/facetime, etc video calls with your family who are near and far. Even if you haven't been doing so consistently in the past, use this season as a reason to start connecting.
  6. Share your feelings instead of stuffing them. "Share each other's troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2 (NLT)
  7. Seek advice before making major decisions. "Our plans often fail because we don't seek advice, but listening to good counsel will bring success." Proverbs 15:22 "There is safety in seeking multiple counsel." Proverbs 11:14
  8. Space renewal breaks throughout your day. "Even young people become exhausted and give up too soon. But those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar like eagles. They'll keep running and not grow weary. They'll walk and not grow weak." Isaiah 40:30-31 Think about what refreshes you. Just like dosing in medicine, breaks spread throughout your day will keep you refreshed. Instead of a one-hour break, take several five-minute breaks. If you are prone to work through your breaks, set an alarm to remind you to get up and walk around. Use those breaks to get up, stretch your body and get outside because nature is both healing and calming.
  9. Serve someone suffering more than you. "Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25 (NLT) Look around and you will find someone hurting. Serving others who have greater needs helps to fill your spiritual tank.
  10. Control what's controllable and trust God for the rest. (From Abraham's example) "We see that his faith and his actions worked together. His faith was made complete by what he did." James 2:22

4. Avoid letting staff go -- or at least do it right
Researchers have found that it takes the average person longer to adapt to a job loss than the death of someone they care about. Employee layoffs and furloughs may seem inevitable as the financial impacts of coronavirus continue to bite, but many companies that treat team members like trusted partners rather than disposable assets are weathering the crisis without having to let staff go. If downsizing your workforce is inevitable, at least do it right. Be transparent about the state of the company, plan what you'll say to avoid rambling, avoid offering meaningless platitudes and be prepared to answer questions and offer support. Full Story: Harvard Business Review online (tiered subscription model) (6/9), The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (6/14), Journal of Accountancy online (6/17)

5. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred sixty-five (165) confirmed positive cases and five (5) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report This reported death number has dropped back down to five from six. I'm trying to find out why. Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics. Tests Completed: 1,532
Positive Results: 164 (131 different people, some have tested positive more than once.)
Negative Results: 1,283 Pending Results: 85

  • The 110 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has one (1) patient hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and one (1) other patient currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 468
Positive Results: 80
Negative Results: 378 Pending Results: 10 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

6. How can SCDA better serve you? We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 6/19

1. Will Electrostatic Mist Ruin My Keyboard?

Bisnow Commercial Real Estate talked to experts and here are the questions the article addresses:

Does It Work Against The Coronavirus? Well, that depends on what you put inside of it. The sprayers that dispense the mist will ionize any [compatible] cleaning liquid you load in. The EPA has published a list of disinfectants it deems effective for disarming the coronavirus and other viruses, including stericides, acids and bleaches that can be used in electrostatic mist cleaners.  

Will It Damage Office Equipment? There is concern that in certain use cases, electrostatic mist cleaning methods can actually cause damage to office equipment. “On 98% of the desks out there, it’s actually going to destroy the desktop after a few weeks.” If you are uncertain about the impact it will have on a surface, test it in an inconspicuous area of the surface first, before applying the product broadly. (Bear in mind that one test will not serve to establish the effects of the cleaner on a surface over multiple cleans.) Furthermore, fogging is a disinfection method that is similar to electrostatic mist but that does not electrocharge the cleaning molecules when they leave the machine. It also uses larger particle sizes. Envista Forensics recently released a paper cautioning business owners to turn off all devices and cover them before fogging, and warning that it believes that repeated fogging of electronic equipment will cause material degradation and functional failures. Glass cleaner, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, solvents, powdered cleansers and disinfectant wipes can all harm the protective coatings on your laptop and phone screens and monitors. Manufacturers coat new phones and other devices with anti-scratch, anti-fingerprint and other coatings. Experts say using harsh cleaners may break those coatings down, and that if you must use an alcohol-based or other powerful cleaner, spray a small amount onto a microfiber cloth and gently apply it to non-screen parts of your equipment.

What Should I Ask Before Purchasing Equipment Or Contracting A Cleaner? Hand-held or rolling car sprayers can be wielded by human teams of cleaners in personal protective equipment, and robots are also being deployed. Some sprayers use battery power to impart a charge on liquids, while others use a cord to draw power from a standard outlet plug. Although cords can pose an additional challenge, they provide consistent power and droplet charging, which results in better system performance. Batteries simply aren’t powerful enough to generate a consistent, reliable charge to deliver the electrostatic performance needed to cover surfaces completely and evenly every time you spray. Be wary of companies that claim you can spray any product with their system. They likely have not done the proper testing required to ensure operator and bystander safety for the use of all chemicals. Also, ask questions that establish credentials and experience.

How Often Is It Necessary? An office or other public building is ultimately only as germ-free as the people in it. While disinfecting services may provide peace of mind, they should not be considered a substitute for routine cleaning — often.

 

2. How Delta fought the spread of Covid-19 among its workforce

I know Delta is not manufacturing, but their efforts might be instructive. Delta put into place a "layered mitigation strategy" to deal with the outbreak. It intensified sanitation procedures and required employees to wear masks and submit to regular temperature checks. Employees who fell ill received "high-risk pay protection" — a form of paid leave — while they recovered and quarantined in the aftermath of the illness.
Delta previously announced its plan to have all of its employees tested for Covid-19. Delta CEO Bastian reiterated that plan Thursday morning. Testing for both antibodies and the active disease, administered by the Mayo Clinic and Quest Diagnostics, began this week in Minneapolis. Testing for Atlanta employees will begin next week. Only 10% of Delta employees can work from home, Bastian said, so implementing testing is paramount to keep Delta workers on the job. Here's the article.

 

3. There's a key way to curb the spread of COVID-19

Fix your indoor air. Over the past months, Fast Company has connected with many experts on the topic of air quality and circulation. They’ve offered a variety of best practices for everyone, from restaurant owners to CEOs to families, to consider. Here’s what they’ve learned so far.

Add filters and usher fresh air indoors

Humidity is important

Here's the full Fast Company article.

 

4. Lessons from COVID-19 about Manufacturing Resilience  

The unprecedented wave of global chaos, uncertainty and inconsistency stirred up by the COVID-19 outbreak could have sunk us. It could have all ended horribly. But as this article in IndustryWeek relates, it did not.

Instead, we saw manufacturers across the industry and across the world lean into the fight together. We saw workers show up despite the risks and we saw leaders transforming their plants to keep them safe. We saw companies shift industries overnight, innovating at a speed and scale never thought possible to produce the goods first responders, medical workers, and global citizens needed most to survive and endure the crisis. We saw countless acts of collaboration and ingenuity erupting everywhere we looked, all in effort to keep this critical industry moving and to do some good in the world. The nature of the humans involved—particularly their ingenuity, their grit and their innovative resilience. This has been perhaps the most impressive positive result of the COVID-19 crisis so far.  

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred sixty (160) confirmed positive cases and five (5) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report  This reported death number has dropped back down to five from six. I'm trying to find out why.

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 1,470
Positive Results: 155
Negative Results: 1,241

Pending Results: 74

  • The 108 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has one (1) patient hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and one (1) other patient currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 280
Positive Results: 36
Negative Results: 229

Pending Results: 15

I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 6/18

1. How Exactly Do You Catch Covid-19? There Is a Growing Consensus

Six months into the coronavirus crisis, there’s a growing consensus about a central question: How do people become infected? Here are some pull quotes from this Wall Street Journal article:

"It’s not common to contract Covid-19 from a contaminated surface, scientists say. And fleeting encounters with people outdoors are unlikely to spread the coronavirus. Instead, the major culprit is close-up, person-to-person interactions for extended periods. Crowded events, poorly ventilated areas and places where people are talking loudly—or singing, in one famous case—maximize the risk."
"Surface contamination and fleeting encounters are less of a worry than close-up, person-to-person interactions for extended periods of time."
"While wiping down surfaces and putting in hand-sanitizer stations in workplaces is good, the bigger risks are close-range face-to-face interactions, and having lots of people in an enclosed space for long periods." 

"High-touch surfaces like doorknobs are a risk, but the virus degrades quickly so other surfaces like cardboard boxes are less worrisome." 

“Surfaces and cleaning are important, but we shouldn’t be spending half of our budget on it when they may be having only a smaller effect." 

"The places to worry about are the break rooms, locker rooms, and security checkpoints, where people interact. Those are spaces where the company should consider instituting social-distancing measures by staggering the times they are open and how many people can be there at once. Only a few cafeterias are open, and those that are have socially distanced seating. In bathrooms, only half the stalls are available to cut down on the number of people."  

2. SBA reopens EIDL 

The U.S. Small Business Administration has reopened its Economic Injury Disaster Loan program to all small businesses after it had been closed to new applicants, except for agriculture-related companies, for more than a month. The closure, first reported by The Washington Post, sparked a backlash from business groups and lawmakers. The agency at the time also reportedly had lowered the total loan amount available to a small business to $150,000 from $2 million.

3. Did Your Chain Supply Crumble During COVID-19? 

In this IndustryWeek article, SAP President Chris Haydon provides insights into action items manufacturers can take to close supply chain inadequacies. Strategically expanding the digitalization efforts driving other manufacturing trends can play a pivotal role in helping address supply chain issues. The visibility and the agility needed today is moving and accelerating towards manufacturers valuing digital networks.
Remapping as needed. Critically look at supply chains for new dimensions of risk. Supply chains were not fully understood or tested for something like COVID-19. Or even in some industries where strained trade relations and tariff negotiations created havoc.
Finding talent continuity. People are looking very carefully at the talent pools for people with the skills needed to run the supply chain. The question is, "How can manufacturers be very creative in balancing full time equivalent versus temporary (contingent workers) to let them have agility and responsiveness, in manufacturing."
Pressure testing. Manufacturers need a firm understanding of business continuity of their suppliers as well as the supplier's suppliers. It is a crucial mistake if you're not actively looking further down the chain to understand what your true risk is. It is the associated dependency that unfortunately can collapse or may not be able to supply in this new environment.
Understanding new dependencies. In manufacturing, we talk about the direct materials influencing cost of goods sold. But manufacturers also need to understand that there are now some indirect items like personal safety equipment that have now become direct. What if you cannot get the goggles and masks needed to operate your paper plant? There is a notion of indirect materials, and potentially services becoming direct. How you need to manage them, how you need to inspect them, and treat them. That's changing and requires a very different approach.

 

4. Eager to Lead: Tips for the Up-and-Coming Manufacturing Manager

IndustryWeek Lean Leadership columnist Larry Fast shares six tactics to help you grow as a manufacturing leader and master each new role in this article.

1. Learn by reading.
2. Learn by listening.
3. Don’t be impatient.
4. Say yes as much as you can!
5. Be a joiner.
6. Learn how to hire great people. 

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred sixty-one (161) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 1,420
Positive Results: 152
Negative Results: 1,210

Pending Results: 58

  • The 107 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has two (2) patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and two (2) other patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 280
Positive Results: 36
Negative Results: 229

Pending Results: 15

I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 6/17

1. Georgia Tests 100% of Nursing Home Residents for COVID-19

The Georgia Department of Public Health has reported that 100% of nursing home residents in facilities with 25 or more beds have now been tested for COVID-19. Across all long-term care facilities with 25 beds or more, 77% of residents and 57% of staff members have now been tested. Learn more about the numbers here.

2. GEMA has Shipped Millions in Personal Protective Equipment and Supplies to Fight COVID-19

Governor Brian Kemp announced that the state has received 22,188 resource requests in response to COVID-19.  In response, the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency has shipped millions in personal protective equipment and supplies.  Learn more about the numbers here.

3. We're here for Georgia's businesses

In order to help small businesses recover from the effects of COVID-19, the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center is currently offering all of its continuing education programming at no direct charge to small business owners, employees and prospective business owners for calendar year 2020 thanks to special funding from the CARES Act. Virtual consulting and online resources are available. Learn more at: https://www.georgiasbdc.org/gainesville@georgiasbdc.org, 770-531-5681.

 

4. NYC's Office Buildings Are Readying To Reopen, But Most Workers Aren't Ready To Come Back

I know we are not New York City with its challenges, but this Bisnow article discusses the many new protocols and regulations being implemented in high-rise office buildings.

 

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred fifty-eight (158) confirmed positive cases and six (6) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 1,420
Positive Results: 152
Negative Results: 1,210

Pending Results: 58

  • The 107 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has two (2) patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and two (2) other patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 280
Positive Results: 36
Negative Results: 229

Pending Results: 15

I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 6/16

1. The Not-So-Silent Fallout from COVID-19—Stress
Acknowledging the emotional part of dealing with this pandemic is a huge stepping stone to delving further into the area of mental health. Check out this IndustryWeek article.

 

2. CDC Issues Advice for Travelers
Because travel increases your chances of getting infected and spreading COVID-19 the CDC advises you to ask:

  • Is COVID-19 spreading where you’re going? You can get infected while traveling.
  • Is COVID-19 spreading in your community? Even if you don’t have symptoms, you can spread COVID-19 to others while traveling.
  • Will you or those you are traveling with be within 6 feet of others during or after your trip? Being within 6 feet of others increases your chances of getting infected and infecting others.
  • Are you or those you are traveling with more likely to get very ill from COVID-19? Older adults and people of any age who have a serious underlying medical condition are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Do you live with someone who is more likely to get very ill from COVID-19? If you get infected while traveling you can spread COVID-19 to loved ones when you return, even if you don’t have symptoms.
  • Does the state or local government where you live or at your destination require you to stay home for 14 days after traveling? Some state and local governments may require people who have recently traveled to stay home for 14 days.
  • If you get sick with COVID-19, will you have to miss work or school? People with COVID-19 disease need to stay home until they are no longer considered infectious.

Do not travel if you are sick, or if you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Do not travel with someone who is sick.

3. What your youngest employees need most right now

This Harvard Business Review article emphasises how events shape generations and offers advice to support Gen Z employees in skill development, stress management, and building emotional intelligence.
Skill development. Gen Z’s learning has been disrupted. Some converted course work to online formats. Others minimized direct instruction. For others, learning has been attempted in the presence of entire families similarly house-bound and juggling multiple responsibilities. Grades have been converted to pass/fail, tests have been abandoned, and deadlines extended. These options may be right for the moment, but likely will have costs. Employers should consider thoughtfully designed programs to ease Gen Z’s transition by, for example, rethinking orientation programs, early assignments, and mentoring focusing on the development of expertise.
Stress management. For more than a decade, researchers have noted an alarming trend: Gen Z reports higher levels of anxiety and depression than other generations. Most companies are aware that unaddressed employee stress and anxiety can also result in absenteeism, turnover, and lowered productivity. Employers can adopt practices to create customized programs for young workers. This could include early-career affinity groups that encourage open conversation in a supportive environment. In addition, coaching interventions can boost an individual’s confidence in their ability to succeed and reduce anxiety, helping to keep minor performance challenges from becoming career-damaging incidents.
Emotional intelligence. Research demonstrates that emotional intelligence, consisting of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills, is a critical element of effective leadership — and can be taught and learned. Employees who develop emotional intelligence can provide a foundation for a respectful work environment and a talent pool of future managers. 

Employers are likely to benefit from the likelihood that Gen Z enters the workplace with a greater level of empathy and adaptability, qualities that are critical components of emotional intelligence. Having experienced both the significant disruption to their own lives and the pain and sorrow felt by friends and loved ones who suffered during the pandemic, Gen Zers are likely to be vigilant to the emotions of others at work.

Companies have the opportunity to help members of Gen Z become the Next Great Generation of leaders. Having been tested at a very young age, they will bring a special blend of resiliency and humanity to the workplace. Employers can take advantage of these unique formative experiences by providing structured support to their younger employees that will smooth their transition and ensure their place as valued members of the workforce.

 

4. Communications in the Time of COVID: 7 Lessons Learned

Effective communications with employees have been particularly important the past few months as normal routines have been disrupted. Creating communications plans has tested the leadership and management skills of these leaders and their teams as they’ve worked to keep people safe, healthy, well-informed, motivated and productive. This IndustryWeek article presents seven lessons learned for moving into the “next normal.”

1. Employees First
Communications teams should collaborate with the CEO and executive leadership team on detailing the organization’s posture, mindset and principles – with employee health, both physical and mental, at the top of the agenda. What is being done to keep frontline workers safe? How is the company helping all employees reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with disruption?
2. Empower Regional and Local Staff
Rather than take a command-and-control approach, communications teams should articulate principles from the top of the organization all the way to the front lines.
3. Leadership in the Spotlight
The CEO of the company should always be in the spotlight to ensure employees that high-level leadership is driving the direction of the response. The entire executive leadership team, including the CHRO and communications executives, should also be part of the process of reaching out to employees to drive key messaging and demonstrate closely aligned leadership across the board.
4. Increase and Expand Communications
Communications teams should ramp up the cadence of communications and expand the channels and platforms used by their organizations during any difficult situation. Lean toward overcommunicating during this time. In addition to written communication, internal communications teams should leverage both long- and short-form (10 to 15 minute) video featuring leader Q&A sessions. Consider using an integrated content management system to push out messaging to all internal touchpoints simultaneously, including email, employee portals, internal social channels, the company’s Salesforce platform and even digital signage.
5. Communications Is a Two-Way street
Communications teams need to monitor how workers are feeling and encourage two-way dialogue both person-to-person and via technology. Employees should be encouraged to provide feedback directly to manages and/or executives, either directly or anonymously.
6. Return-to-Work Planning Focused on Empathy
Stress safety, empathy and understanding. Communicators should stress organizational flexibility and be mindful that employees may be dealing with personal issues at home (childcare, elder care, etc.). Consider explaining a phased approach to reboarding, and be very deliberate about communicating new health protocols  — such as asking employees to attest they have no symptoms and instituting a screening system before they can return to a facility.
7. Rethink Everything
The pandemic has presented the opportunity for leaders in manufacturing to take a step back and evaluate their entire communications strategy. What is working? What isn’t? What do stakeholders need to hear moving forward — and how? All can be evaluated and adapted as necessary.

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred fifty-three (153) confirmed positive cases and five (5) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 1,220
Positive Results: 143
Negative Results: 1,051

Pending Results: 26

  • The 107 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has two (2) patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and one (1) other patient currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 280
Positive Results: 36
Negative Results: 229

Pending Results: 15

I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 6/15

1. Governor Kemp Releases Executive Order 06.11.20.01 – Empowering Healthy Georgia

Last Thursday, Governor Brian Kemp released his latest Executive Order related to COVID-19.  Executive Order 06.11.20.01 – Empowering a Healthy Georgia includes several actions, including eliminating the shelter in place order for those who are 65 years of age and older unless they live in a nursing home or have other identified chronic health conditions (effective immediately); bans gatherings of more than 50 people (up from 25) unless there is at least six feet between each person (effective June 16) and includes modified provisions for sports teams, summer camps, restaurants, venues and more.  Please see the press release and full executive order for more details. 

Additionally, ACCG has developed a summary of the Executive Order for areas that apply to county governments. This 14-page covers items in the Executive Order that relate specifically to county governments, but it also has great information of a more general nature that could apply to manufacturers.

2. Quick Stat of the Week

Check out the top 10 most resilient countries in the world. The 2020 FM Global Resilience Index was just released in May and ranks 130 countries by such factors as supply chain resilience, risk quality, and economic indicators.  image.png

 

3. How to Soothe Your 'Re-Entry Anxiety' As COVID-19 Lockdowns Lift
When COVID-19 lockdowns were first instituted, it felt, for many people, unfathomable to stay home nearly 24/7. But for some people, it now feels equally strange—and nerve-wracking—to do anything else after months cocooned inside. Psychologists have dubbed the phenomenon “re-entry anxiety.”   If you or someone you know is struggling to find the right balance, try these expert-backed tips for combating re-entry anxiety in a Time magazine article.

 

4. GT Team Using Deep Learning to Forecast Pandemic in the US

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now using modeling from Georgia Tech to track the trajectory of Covid-19 at the national, regional, state, and local levels. Check out this article from the Georgia Tech College of Computing.

5. Signs of Life
As states gradually reopen, the U.S. economy is showing signs of life after one of the most significant downturns in history. Just how long the path to economic recovery might be is the biggest question on everyone's mind.

  1. Federal Reserve leaders predict the U.S. unemployment will fall to 9.3 percent by the end of this year and 6.5 percent by the end of 2021, signaling confidence the economy will begin to recover in coming months from the stunning recession caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Signs of economic recovery include:
  2. Multiple states have allowed restaurants to resume indoor dining. Still, restaurant bookings are now at 80 percent below their levels from last year.
  3. Hotels have begun welcoming more guests as their occupancy rates near 40 percent, according to data from global hospitality research company STR.
  4. Air travel passenger numbers have fallen more than 80 percent when compared to last year, but there are still slight increases in May and June.
  5. Mortgage applications are up nearly 20 percent when compared to last year, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

6. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred fifty-two (152) confirmed positive cases and three (4) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 1,220
Positive Results: 143
Negative Results: 1,051

Pending Results: 26

  • The 107 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has two (2) patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and one (1) other patient currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 280
Positive Results: 36
Negative Results: 229

Pending Results: 15

I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

 

7. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 6/12

1. A To-Do List for Restarting—and Rethinking—Plants Post COVID-19

2020 presents a golden opportunity to come out of our cocoons and try an approach that is dramatically different in order to adequately navigate uncertain times. While some global strategic consulting experts have already begun offering high-level suggestions on how industries can operate in a post COVID-19 world, more hands-on advice is available, offering a realistic to-do list to run plants to their fullest potential under the conditions of less-available manpower in this IndustryWeek article.

Here are some of the highlights:

Safety & Health of Workers/Employees
Non-intrusive detection: There are ways to automatically and non-intrusively detect anomalies in worker health and report to authorities. Most of the testing can be done at the plant entry points where the attendance system can be integrated with the test results at the entrance and have limited testing or monitoring in production areas.
Zoning constraints: Apps that monitor and maintain the complete genealogy of a day in life of workers and management staff. But senior management should avoid the trap of using this traceability data for fulfilling their hidden long-standing wish of policing workers.
Poka-yoke to build physical self-isolation: Physical layout changes can enable mistake-proofing and prohibit entry and exits in certain zones of the plant to prevent violations of physical-distancing norms.
Direct Manpower Planning
Rework on building blocks: There is a solid opportunity to re-evaluate the fundamental building blocks of a plant such as work study, facility layouts, line balancing and rewards and recognition mechanisms.
MUDA reduction: Identify value-added from non-value-added activity(MUDA) and explore if non-value-added can be almost eliminated by process and layout improvements, as well as low cost automation.
Re-balancing of lines: Rebalance the lines for the expected TAC(K)T levels (TAC(K)T time. The rebalance may be higher in the first few days (progressive opening) and is likely to gradually move towards the earlier norm or the line speed. Also, considering the cyclic nature of virus infection, it may also be a good time to move away from classic line-balancing with a fixed pitch and manpower loading and explore more innovative approaches such as self-balanced lines.
Dynamic SOPs: Standard Operating Procedures and work instructions need to be more dynamic post COVID-19 and explore tools to dynamically update and display SOPs on the lines, as per the new line balancing.
Multi-skilling: Don’t expect that temporary workers will be back in action in the short term. The permanent workforce will have to be ready to perform their core activities and also additional activities such as material handling, loading, unloading and housekeeping, which would have been perceived as low skill before COVID-19. HR/IR/Production team and worker representatives will have to work hard to change this perception of work and will need detailed training plans to execute.
Shift timings: There is a likelihood of a staggered shift being planned to manage the overall manpower density at plant level.
Engagement-based measurement: This is also an opportune time to move from norms-based production culture to an engagement-based way of measuring productivity and associated gain sharing. The limited number of people allowed on the plant floor will be our crown jewels and it is imperative that they are empowered to make the operational decisions and improve response times to issues on floor.
Supervisory and Management Planning (independent of location, time and role)
Move away from “labeling”: There’s a need to challenge current organizational ratios as workmen to supervisor and supervisor to managers and think laterally to come up innovative solutions. We should use this opportunity to do away with labeling on the floor (operator, supervisor, technician, etc.). More labeling on the floor is likely to result in lesser engagement times. It is time to bridge the divides and merge roles.
Remote management: This will also be a great opportunity for supervisors and management to go digital and manage their operations remotely and limit physical meetings until restrictions apply.
Digitization
Digitization of manual tasks: Make a list of all manual tasks performed by direct and indirect associates – such as quality control form entry, TPM checklists, production records on the floor today. Next, perform pareto analysis and identify all such tasks that can be automated, to reduce workload and manpower requirements.
Smart manufacturing – sense, alert, assure: This is an opportunity to sense and collect data directly from assets, alert management on anomalies and run statistical analysis of data to take actionable insights.
PowerPoint to platform-based MIS: Make an assessment to identify the NVA in management tasks and the way whole MIS reporting is done. It may be the right time to do away with “Power Point culture” and accept a new normal of real-time data driven operations review and MIS reporting.

 

2. Workers say no thanks to apps tracking their contact with coworkers

A majority of the more than 17,000 professionals who responded to a Fishbowl survey about returning to the office said they do not support their employers using a contact-tracing app. Tech employees were least supportive, followed by finance and law professionals.


3. Managing a business during social unrest: 10 questions answered
Recent social unrest presents business owners and managers with numerous challenges running their companies. The Atlanta Business Chronicle reached out to local experts to get their tips for how to manage a business during such times. Abigail J. Larimer, attorney in the employment practice at Morris, Manning & Martin LLP, shares her advice in this article.

 

4. Survey: Pandemic has changed retail forever

I know we're concerned about manufacturing, but this Progressive Grocer article caught my eye. A reported 83% of C-suite executives believe the pandemic will leave a permanently altered retail landscape in its wake, according to a new survey from Cambridge Retail Advisors. The executives who responded said lasting changes will include increased demand for curbside pickup services, more online shopping options, more restaurants using ghost kitchens and more retail stores serving as micro-fulfillment centers.

 

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred forty-eight (148) confirmed positive cases and four (4) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 1196
Positive Results: 132
Negative Results: 1009

Pending Results: 55

  • The 104 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has one (1) patient hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and four (4) other patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 280
Positive Results: 36
Negative Results: 229

Pending Results: 15

I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 6/11

1. How to Ensure You Have the Right Business Continuity Plan in Place
Now is a good time to conduct an after-action review for how your organization has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Use what you learn in this IndustryWeek article to help create or improve your business continuity plan.

The article covers these main areas:

Why is there a need for robust business continuity plans?
Recovery Time Objectives

How does a business develop a credible continuity plan?
Recognized standards (NFPA 1600 & ISO 22301) to use as a basis for development.
Are health, safety, and environment (HSE) plans the same as business continuity plans?
Issues to cover in a business continuity plan:
 Program Management, Planning, Implementation, Execution, Training & Education, Exercise and Tests, and Program Maintenance.

Why do business continuity plans sometimes fall short of expectations?
How should a business review and reinforce its business continuity plan?

 

2. Are you expanding manufacturing capacity?
With the renewed focus on the advantages of reshoring manufacturing capability to the U.S. many manufacturers are seeking to build or expand facilities. A Guide for Expanding Manufacturing Capacity from Life Cycle Engineering identifies best practices to prepare for operational readiness.

 

3. Best Practices from Ford’s Return to Work Handbook
Ford's  64-page book, “Manufacturing Return to Work Playbook,” covers detailed procedures to ensure worker safety at its plants is a model other companies can follow.

 

4. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred forty-seven (147) confirmed positive cases and three (3) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 1,196
Positive Results: 132
Negative Results: 1,009

Pending Results: 55

  • The 104 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has one (1) patient hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and four (4) other patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 280
Positive Results: 36
Negative Results: 229

Pending Results: 15

I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

 

5. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 6/10

1. How to support your remaining employees after a layoff

This Harvard Business Review story is available via the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

In just a few months, unemployment claims in the United States have soared past 40 million as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Understandably, the focus is on those who are now jobless, whose career prospects and long-term security are suddenly unclear. What’s often overlooked in the economic reckoning, though, are the employees whose jobs were spared.

While some may feel lucky to still be employed, others may experience mixed feelings. They may be relieved to have a job but simultaneously guilt-ridden about the suffering of former colleagues who were let go. Survivor’s guilt may be exacerbated by a perception that the company failed to recognize or reward trusted colleagues and friends and instead eliminated them.

A recent study by Leadership IQ, a research firm, shows that nearly three-quarters (74%) of employees retained after a layoff saw their productivity decline afterward, while 69% said that the quality of their company’s product or service deteriorated. And when asked to describe how they felt following the layoffs, a majority said they experienced a sense of guilt, anxiety and anger. The good news is that workers who felt that their managers were visible, approachable and open were more than 70% less likely to report a productivity drop, and 65% less likely to report a decline in the quality of their organization’s offerings. The numbers show that leaders can make a big difference in helping retained employees deal with their survivor’s guilt. Here’s how:
REMEMBER THAT WORK AND LIFE ARE INTERCONNECTED: The first thing to do is acknowledge what these “survivors” are feeling, while honoring the contributions made by their former colleagues. Encourage employees to reach out to former co-workers and make sure that, as a manager, you do so as well, offering tangible emotional and job-search support, for example by reviewing resumes, making networking introductions and providing references.
BE CANDID: Help employees see the reasons for the company’s downsizing decisions and explain the other options that were considered. When employees understand that management is reshaping the company for future stability and growth, while treating people with dignity and keeping opportunities open when possible, they will be more likely to respond with their best efforts.
COMMUNICATE CONSISTENTLY AND TRANSPARENTLY: Frequent, open communication is critical to reassuring employees in a crisis and can be helpful in mitigating survivor’s guilt. Leaders at every level of the organization must engage with their people systematically and often. Make the effort to be approachable, visible and candid. Address employees’ survivor’s guilt rather than ignoring it.
CONNECT WORK TO PURPOSE: People find meaning when they see a clear connection between what they value and what they spend time doing. That link is not always obvious even in the best of times and is particularly tenuous during a global pandemic, when those who are not on the front lines may feel that their work is less significant.

Share stories of how, collectively, your company is making a positive difference in the lives of real people, including customers, employees and communities. You can also remind your employees that they do their work in service of those they care about in their personal lives. Leaders must show that they care by communicating transparently about the situation and listening while people process survivor’s guilt. They must be willing to adapt and readjust to prioritize people over profits.

 

2. Are you ready to start traveling again?

Travel remains far below pre-pandemic levels, but there are signs that corporate road warriors are exploring how they can get going again. Corporate travel company TripActions Inc. reports that bookings through its platform have more than doubled in the past month. Most of that has come in bookings for domestic U.S. air travel, which was up 125%.


Concerns about the coronavirus remain, though. About half of frequent corporate travelers said in a survey by the company late last month that they would be either "comfortable" (22%) or "somewhat comfortable" (30%) with traveling by plane. About 37% said they would be "somewhat uncomfortable" or "uncomfortable," and about 11% said they “will not travel [by plane] unless absolutely necessary.”

 

3. How Millennials, Gen Z Feel About Stores Reopening
Half of millennials and Generation Z members say maybe to in-person shopping within two weeks of stores reopening, 36% are happy about stores opening again but are anxious about a resurgence of coronavirus, and 27% think stores are reopening too soon, per Vesta. The top retail stores Gen Z respondents intend to visit are clothing and personal/beauty care, while millennials' top store choice is for baby products. Full Story: Adweek (tiered subscription model)

 

4. SBDC Small Business eCommerce Webinar

During COVID-19, expanding your online capabilities is crucial to business continuity. Join the Small Business Development Center, Georgia Grown, and UGA Cooperative Extension on June 17 for an #eCommerce workshop featuring #smallbiz experts! Reserve your spot today: https://www.georgiasbdc.org/marketing-georgia-grown-ecommerce/?programid=178620

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred forty-seven (147) confirmed positive cases and three (3) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 1,112
Positive Results: 130
Negative Results: 971

Pending Results: 11

  • The 99 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has one (1) patient hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and three (3) other patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 394
Positive Results: 70
Negative Results: 307

Pending Results: 17

I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 6/9

1. What's on Employers’ Minds About Returning to Work? 

Here're some highlights of an article that appeared in IndustryWeek.

71% of in-house legal counsel are concerned about potential lawsuits upon reopening
78% of non-essential businesses say they are ready to return to their physical locations within the next three weeks 
34% plan to return within one month
18%  plan to bring employees back immediately after stay-at-home orders expire
33% will wait a few weeks
42% plan to take a “wait and see” approach to gauge the outcome of other businesses’ reopening efforts.

These are the findings of a study, COVID-19 Return to Work Survey Report, released by Littler, an employment law practice. 


Employer Liability Concerns
71% of in-house counsel respondents report being at least somewhat concerned about potential lawsuits upon reopening

6% say that they are not concerned at all

Respondents ranked leaves of absence entitlements (68%), unsafe working conditions (59%) and workers’ compensation (43%) as the top three areas in which they expect to see an uptick.

Safety Efforts
As far as ensuring the safety of employees, employers are taking numerous steps, including:
90% increased cleaning

87% limiting employee contact in common areas
86% providing and/or encouraging the use of face coverings or other protective gear
78% modifying workspaces to maintain safe distances
58% plan to conduct testing or health screenings on employees, with most referring to temperature checks (89%) and symptom screenings (72%) and a small number selecting antibody (8%) and antigen (7%) tests.
 

2. Time to stock your medicine cabinet for the pandemic

Your medicine cabinet is your first stop in times of illness, and the coronavirus pandemic is good reason to stock it up with necessary supplies. Here's a list of what you can use to ensure your household's medicine chest is well-stocked.

 

3. PPP Revision Lets Businesses Spend Less On Payrolls, More On Rent

An article in Bisnow reports President Donald Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act last Friday, modifying the original act created by the CARES Act earlier this year, soon after the coronavirus pandemic began. In its original form, the PPP required recipients of federally overseen loans (which later might be forgiven) to spend 75% of the proceeds on payrolls and only 25% on everything else. 

Business groups argued that 25% wasn't enough for other eligible expenses, which include rent, mortgage payments, interest on loans and utility payments. Under the revision, only 60% of PPP loans must be spent on payrolls, leaving the remaining 40% for other eligible expenses. 

Businesses also now have 24 weeks to spend the funds, compared with eight weeks in the original PPP, and have until Dec. 31, 2020, to rehire workers. Under certain conditions, the law allows them not to rehire as many workers as before. The original rehiring deadline had been June 30 to rehire as many workers as before. 

The changes aren't as much as lobbyists wanted, such as a 50/50 split, nor did the new law expand eligible expenses to inventory or supplies of personal protection equipment. Business groups will continue to press for these expenses to be made eligible.

4. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred forty-five (145) confirmed positive cases and three (3) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 1,112
Positive Results: 130
Negative Results: 971

Pending Results: 11

  • The 99 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has one (1) patient hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and three (3) other patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 394
Positive Results: 70
Negative Results: 307

Pending Results: 17

I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

 

5. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 6/8

1. Sweeping PPP loan changes become law.

President Trump signed into law sweeping changes to the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, making the program's lending terms more favorable to restaurants, retailers and other businesses.

The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act overhauls, key aspects of the program, and will:

  • Extend the “covered period” under which small businesses can spend the loan proceeds from eight weeks to 24 weeks, or until Dec. 31.
  • Remove the limits on loan forgiveness for small businesses that were unable to rehire employees, hire new employees or return to the same level of business activity as before the virus.

Expand the 25% cap to use PPP funds on non-payroll expenses, such as rent, mortgage interest and:

  • Utilities, to 40% of the total loan. That lowers the 75% requirement for payroll expenses to 60% to get maximum forgiveness.
  • Allow small businesses to take a PPP loan and also qualify for a separate, recently enacted tax credit to defer payroll taxes, currently prohibited to prevent “double dipping.”
  • Extend the loan terms for any unforgiven portions that need to be repaid from two years to five years, at 1% interest.

Give small businesses more time to rehire employees or obtain forgiveness for the loan if social-distancing guidelines and health-related actions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other agencies prevented the business from operating at the same capacity as it had:

  • Before March 1.
  • Extend the period for when a business can apply for loan forgiveness, from within six months to within 10 months of the last day of the covered period, before it must start making interest and principal payments. Under the new bill, PPP loan interest and payment of principal and fees will be deferred until the loan is forgiven by the lender.

2. Natural Herd Immunity Questions Answered

The National Institutes of Health posted a really informative, easy-to-understand blog that addresses this very question.

It features Ned Sharpless, who directs NIH’s National Cancer Institute, and happens to be an expert on antibody testing for COVID-19. Antibodies are what the immune system produces after someone recovers from an illness, and they ward off reinfection. Having immunity means the immune system produces antibodies against that particular virus or pathogen. “Herd immunity is when a significant portion of the population is immune to a pathogen, then that pathogen will die out in the population,” Sharpless said. “There just aren’t enough susceptible people left to infect.”

The rate of immunity needed to reach the “herd” level depends on the virus itself. For measles, which is extremely contagious, Sharpless said around 90 percent of the population needs to be immune to maintain herd immunity. (That is why keeping vaccines up to date is so important — if the rate of vaccination drops below 90 percent, measles will begin to spread again.)

How many people it will take to gain herd immunity to the novel coronavirus is unknown, Sharpless said. The big caveat in this conversation, though, is that even if recovering from the virus (or getting a vaccine) provides some immunity, scientists don't know how long the immunity will last. Sharpless said the potential for lasting immunity is there, but there's not a lot of evidence for it yet since this virus is so new. “Since we have no direct experience with this virus over time, it’s hard to answer,” Sharpless said. “For some viruses, you have a long-lasting antibody protection after infection; for other viruses, not so much.”

There have been some reports of people getting reinfected with COVID-19, but Sharpless said that's still a topic generating questions in the health community. It's possible that those people never fully recovered the first time, he said, “or it may be that they got reinfected.” In either case, Sharpless said it's “a pretty rare event, if it happens at all.”

 

3. The 2020 Census: Word of Mouth Challenge.
Currently, Stephens County is at a 52.6% response rate for the 2020 Census. While this is up from last week's numbers, it is less than the Georgia and National averages. And now, more than ever, it is important that we answer the census and have the proper representation and federal funding that an accurate response provides.

So what can we do?

We can all take part in the "Word of Mouth" challenge. It's simple. I tell five people about the census. YOU tell five people about the census. THEY tell five people about the census... and so on!

Completing the census is easy, safe, and important. Just visit this website and follow the prompts. It's quick, it's easy, and it's required by law.   

4. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred forty-four (144) confirmed positive cases and three (3) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 1086
Positive Results: 123
Negative Results: 919

Pending Results: 19

  • The 96 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has one (1) patient hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and two (2) other patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 394
Positive Results: 70
Negative Results: 307

Pending Results: 17

I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

 

5. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 6/5

1.GDOL Launches New Tutorials Drafted to Help with Common Claim Issues

This week, the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) debuted tutorials designed to help claimants navigate the claims process. As the GDOL strives to ensure claimants receive proper weekly benefit payments in a timely fashion, the agency posted two instructional tutorials on the necessary steps for requesting weekly payments, both for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Regular State Unemployment Insurance (UI). These tutorials walk claimants through the process, offering insight to the unemployment questionnaires, along with sharing valuable links and helpful examples. These tutorials can be found on the GDOL website under the PUA landing page (https://dol.georgia.gov/pua) at Request PUA Payments Tutorial or under the individual claims landing page (https://dol.georgia.gov/individual-claims) at Request Regular UI Payments Tutorial.

I have additional information I could share with you if you will reply to this email.

2. US to Temporarily Relax Hand Sanitizer Purity Rules

This  article in IndustryWeek reports the FDA has said they would allow more impurities in alcohol-based hand sanitizer. In a statement from the Food and Drug Administration, the federal government announced it would relax regulations on impurities in alcohol-based hand sanitizer. The move is intended to help ensure widespread access to hand sanitizers during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The FDA recommends use of hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol as a substitute for washing with ordinary soap and water, and hand sanitizer stations for workers to regularly clean their hands have become a common feature of reopened factories invested in keeping workers healthy.

 

3. CNN: Is it safe to go to a pool, the beach or a park? A doctor offers guidance as coronavirus distancing measures lifted

Summer is upon us, and while case numbers and deaths from COVID-19 are trending downward, this is not the time to let down your guard. Here's some guidance from a doctor suggesting things to consider in a park, at the beach and the pool.

4. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred forty-four (144) confirmed positive cases and three (3) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 1086
Positive Results: 123
Negative Results: 919

Pending Results: 19

  • The 96 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has one (1) patient hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and two (2) patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 280
Positive Results: 36
Negative Results: 229

Pending Results: 15

I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

 

5. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 6/4

1. Georgia WorkSource Career Coach Assistance

In a continued effort to be cautious with the COVID-19 situation, the Georgia WorkSource counselors are continuing to postpone all in-person Career Coach events until further notice. However, they would like to continue providing their services virtually. If you know someone who could use their services, have them sign-up using the following link: https://tinyurl.com/y7fblc4q for a Virtual Career Coaching session. During these sessions counselors can assist with questions related to job searching, resumes writing, career interest or WIOA training information. This link can also be found under the “COVID-19 Resources” page on the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission website.

2. Check in on your black employees, now

This story is available as a result of a content partnership between the Atlanta Business Chronicle and The New York Times. When a video goes viral showing violence against a black person, the shock waves are felt throughout our community. As cities erupt in protests over police brutality, people are in desperate need of support — especially from their employers. It is crucial for employers to check in with their employees and acknowledge the news events of the past few weeks. They should encourage self-care, whatever that may mean to the individuals, and make clear there will be no penalties for those who may need to take a mental health day or temporarily take on a lighter workload. Actively investing in the health of employees will also go a long way toward fostering good will and a safe work environment. 3. A Prayer for True Justice O Heavenly Father, our hearts are heavy. Please give us eyes to see and ears to hear where Your Spirit is working. Help us to see every person the way You see them. Break our hearts for what breaks Yours. Let us not merely say that we love each other. Give us strength to mourn with those who mourn, to weep with those who weep. Let Your justice roll like waters. Let Your righteousness and love flow from us like rivers of living water. Purify our hearts, Lord, and fill us with genuine hunger for justice, for mercy, and for true peace. Heavenly Father, let justice and mercy start with me. Amen.

4. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred forty-seven (147) confirmed positive cases and three (3) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics. Tests Completed: 1045
Positive Results: 119
Negative Results: 894 Pending Results: 32

  • The 93 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has one (1) patient hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19.
  • Visitor restrictions remain in place for Stephens County Hospital as they are still continuing to see cases throughout our community. This is to help keep patients safe as they enter the hospital's facilities. Patients coming for Labor and Delivery are allowed one support person. Patients coming for outpatient surgery are allowed one support person. Patients who are admitted to the hospital are allowed one support person for end of life discussions. No visitors under the age of 16 are allowed at this time. The hospital appreciates your understanding as they work to ensure safety.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 280
Positive Results: 36
Negative Results: 229 Pending Results: 15 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis. 5. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. COVID-19: 6/3 - Stephens County Update

1. Georgia Departments of Education, Public Health release guidance for safe return to in-person instruction in fall 2020

The guidelines are intended to ensure the safety of students, staff, and families while remaining flexible, responsive, and achievable in the K-12 setting. They are guidelines, not mandates, and are adaptive to multiple scenarios. School districts should review the guidance in consultation with their local public health departments and choose which methods to adopt. Georgia's K-12 Restart Working Groups will meet through the summer and fall to build out resources for school district planning and implementation.

2. Resources Provided to Real Estate Professionals As our country works toward opening back up, the Georgia Upstate Lakes Board of Realtors is staying up to date. Here are some links they have provided to their membership with current resources:

https://garealtor.com/wp-content/uploads/GAR-Best-Practices-for-Conducting-Real-Estate-Spring-Summer-2020.pdf

https://www.nar.realtor/coronavirus-a-guide-for-realtors

https://www.nar.realtor/covid-19-workplace-re-entry-checklist

https://www.homelight.com/blog/agent-how-coronavirus-impacts-real-estate-tracker/

3. Office Cleaning Video Resource

This is not a company endorsement, but Bishop Clean Care, Inc. is a residential and commercial cleaning company serving the Southwest Georgia community for more than 65 years. They have put together a 15:36 minute YouTude video highlighting the various ways to disinfect, sanitize, or sterilize "touch-point" surfaces in your business. 4. Mental Health Resource Related to COVID-19 Pandemic Disease As we know COVID-19 is a pandemic disease. This leads to both physical and mental problems. The physical symptoms are high temperature, vomiting, etc. The mental symptoms are feeling lonely, stressful, increased pressure level, heart rate, missing social movement, shooting peak rise in anxiety level, etc. Are these noted in seniors alone? No, these are common in seniors, children and Elders. Though the symptoms are common the relaxing measures are different for different age groups. To know the exact WHO methods of relaxation move on to the Beeboom.co article in the following link ( Protect Your Family’s Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic ). Retrieve yourself back to normal state and reduce the narrow rising tension.

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred forty-seven (147) confirmed positive cases and two (2) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics. Tests Completed: 1022
Positive Results: 116
Negative Results: 885 Pending Results: 21

  • The 90 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has two (2) patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19.
  • Visitor restrictions remain in place for Stephens County Hospital as they are still continuing to see cases throughout our community. This is to help keep the patients safe as they enter the facilities. Patients coming for Labor and Delivery are allowed one support person. Patients coming for outpatient surgery are allowed one support person. Patients who are admitted to the hospital are allowed one support person for end of life discussions. No visitors under the age of 16 are allowed at this time. The hospital staff appreciates your understanding as they work to ensure safety.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 280
Positive Results: 36
Negative Results: 229 Pending Results: 15 I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis. 6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 6/2

1. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Guidance to Stakeholders

Stephens County Hospital's Infectious Control Director Carmen Kisner has shared this information from NIOSH with us:

General Resources

CDC has developed a toolkit to guide employers as they seek to resume normal or phased business operations. The toolkit is based on CDC's Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to COVID-19 and is designed to assist employers as they implement that guidance in their workplaces. These tools will help employers in planning, preparing, and responding to COVID-19.

Industry Specific Resources

The CDC has published a new fact sheet for office building employers, building owners and managers, and building operations specialists. The fact sheet provides detailed steps to create a safe and healthy workplace and protect workers and clients from COVID-19 exposure.

 

2. Moving from Just in Time to Just in Case

In pursuit of ever-greater efficiency, many businesses de-emphasized supply chain flexibility and resilience. Today’s situation calls for rebalancing priorities.

This IndustryWeek article discusses some components (Simplicity, Collaboration, Resilience, Redundancy, and Innovation) of a "Just in Case" supply chain.  

3. Kroger Provides Blueprint for Business

Kroger recently published a 57-page guide of best practices and business advice on business re-entry during COVID-19 titled “Blueprint for Businesses.” This Blueprint is part of Kroger’s initiative to share what they have learned during the pandemic, including best practices and protocols, with government leaders, retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, logistics companies and others as they take steps to develop protocols and procedures to reopen the economy safely.

Kroger developed the Blueprint with U.S. governors and other business groups that had sought its advice in plotting their own reopening. Kroger said they will continually update this Blueprint.

The Blueprint includes:
–Best practices for maintaining a safe, clean and well-stocked retail environment
–Insights, protocols and procedures from Kroger’s 35 manufacturing facilities across the country
–Tips and templates for communicating transparently with internal and external stakeholders
–Tips for remaining flexible and efficient while sourcing high-demand products
–Recommendations for managing and supporting your greatest asset through the pandemic
–Processes and best practices to help flatten the curve while maintaining a seamless supply chain for customers across the country

The Blueprint includes a downloadable booklet and other resources including audio safety recordings and social distancing signage.

4. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred forty-seven (147) confirmed positive cases and two (2) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 969
Positive Results: 107
Negative Results: 826

Pending Results: 33

  • The 87 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has two (2) patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and six (6) patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 338
Positive Results: 40
Negative Results: 273

Pending Results: 25

Moving forward, due to the fact that the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data are not changing much on a daily basis, they will report their numbers each Monday.

 

5. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 6/1

1. COVID-19 expected to accelerate automation uptake

Leading companies in Europe expect the COVID-19 crisis will lead to accelerated uptake of automation as well as increased focus on climate change and supply chain risks, according to a survey by consultancy EY according to an article published in an FDI Intelligence article.
EY surveyed 113 business executives in April which megatrends they expect to accelerate the most in the next three years. Among the findings:

82% agreed that “the adoption of technology that automates manual human processes” will accelerate in the next three years.
57% expect their companies’ “focus on sustainability and climate change” to increase

56% of them expect “the reversal of globalisation” by way of deep supply chain restructuring.
83% of the executives surveyed expect to “move to nearshoring in low-cost areas just outside of the EU and in Africa”

77% of the surveyed said they will “transition to lean or additive manufacturing (3D printing) to deliver advantages in speed, cost, precision and material”. 


2. Americans want to spend but feel unsafe in public places
A study from Cowen reveals 76% of Americans expect their spending to either stay stable or increase from mid-May to mid-June, up from 66% the previous month. Additionally, nearly 50% say the pandemic will disrupt life for six months or longer, compared with 18% in late March, and feelings of safety in returning to public spaces dropped across every category. Full Story: ADWEEK (tiered subscription model)

 

3. Square Business Support Guide

Here are tips and guidance from Square to help you:
Health and Safety
Keeping yourself, your employees, and your customers safe is a top priority right now. There are a variety of methods you can use — like contactless payments — to protect your business and customers.

Stress Management
With the fast-changing situation and fluctuating economy, you may be facing a lot of uncertainty and stress. Prioritizing your business, customers, and employees right now is important, but don’t forget to take care of yourself.

Communicating with Customers
Reaching out to customers to give updates and keep them informed on how they can interact with your business is a great way to maintain your customer relationships. Put together an email strategy to guide your approach to keeping your customers in the loop.

Managing and Communicating with Employees
This time is as unpredictable for you as it is for your employees. Your first priority is to keep your team healthy. Whether that means employees are working from home or not coming into work at all, here are a few resources to help you manage them.

Financial Management
Mandated business closures and travel restrictions may make your sales patterns unpredictable. To be prepared, here are some resources to help you manage and evaluate your current financial status, and discover the best way to triage a cash flow problem.

This is not an endorsement, but here are a few steps you can take to get a clear picture of your finances using Square Dashboard:

  • Generate reports: View your sales, spending, and transfers in a simple report. You can also add filters to include the components most useful to you.
  • Track spending by adding Personal and Business labels to your transactions.
  • Transfer funds in the Balance section of your account.
    • Add Money to transfer funds into your Square Balance, or initiate an outbound transfer via instant transfer (1.5% fee) or a next-business day transfer (free).
  • Make a purchase: You can instantly access the money in your Square Balance with Square Card.

Selling Online
Whether your business is experiencing a government-mandated closure or you’ve decided to temporarily close your doors, or you’re starting to consider the possibility of having to, now is the time to consider letting your customers know how to find you online. If you don’t yet have an online store, below are resources to help you get up and running. If you do, we’ve provided some helpful resources to help you maximize your efforts to sell online.

Shipping
Shipping might be completely new to your business, or it might have recently ramped up due to an increase in online orders. To navigate shipping, here are a few resources to help you optimize the process.

Utilizing Social Media
Social media can be a great place to build a support network and a place for your customers— and other businesses—to band together and show support online. Here are some tips to get started with Facebook or start using the social network as a primary channel for communicating with customers.

Square will continue to update this guide and their resource hub with more information and guidance to help you navigate this difficult time in the coming weeks.

4. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred thirty-nine (139) confirmed positive cases and two (2) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 969
Positive Results: 107
Negative Results: 826

Pending Results: 33

  • The 87 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has two (2) patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and six (6) patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 338
Positive Results: 40
Negative Results: 273

Pending Results: 25

 

5. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 5/29

1. Governor Kemp extends public health state of emergency to July 12, 2020
Governor Kemp announced yesterday he has extended the public health state of emergency in Georgia through 11:59 PM on July 12, 2020. This extension is for the medically fragile and elderly. This declaration allows for enhanced partnerships between the private and public sectors for healthcare infrastructure, procurement of supplies, and coordination across all levels of government. The Public Health State of Emergency provides flexibility for a cohesive response across government and within communities across Georgia. 

He also announced several new guidelines for reopening businesses: 

  1. Starting June 1, gatherings of more than twenty-five people in a single location are permitted with at least six feet between each person.
  2. Starting June 1, professional sports teams and organizations which engage in practices or other in-person operations must operate by the rules or guidelines of their respective sports league. In addition, all amateur sports that continue in-person operation must follow the guidelines for non-critical infrastructure organizations.
  3. Starting June 1, schools and districts can hold summer school for students if they comply with eleven mandatory criteria (They are listed in the Executive Order.). That includes screening workers and students for illness to prevent viral spread, enhancing campus sanitation, encouraging regular handwashing and hygiene, and keeping students separated to minimize exposure.

Read Here Executive Orders 05.28.20.01 and 05.28.20.02.

 

2. GDOL Releases April Unemployment Rates
State unemployment rates in April ranged from 7.9% in Connecticut to 28.2% in Nevada. Georgia comes in at 11.9%. The U.S. rate is 14.7%.

 

3. The Sputtering Road to Recovery

According to this IndustryWeek article, the world has never seen an economic collapse like this. After a first-quarter GDP contraction of 5%, economists forecast a second quarter downturn surpassing 30%, or three times as deep as the previous worst quarterly contraction in U.S. history. Some say it could even be more dire. And manufacturers will be living with the outcome for years to come. Indeed, it will change the way they do business forever.


Over the past month, manufacturers have developed detailed plans to reopen their factories, with the dual goals of employee safety and restoring output.

 

4. “After COVID-19, Ways to Pivot your Business to Succeed”webinar
Please join us on a webinar for small business owners on June 1 and 2, 2020. The curriculum, developed by the UGA Small Business Development Center and offered in partnership with the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, will assist small business owners in pivoting their business after COVID-19.

Topics will include:

  • Re-writing your business plan
  • Financial best practices
  • Communications strategies
  • Resources to pivot for success

Webinars are offered by region (Stephens County is in Region 2) and pre-registration is required. During the program, you will have the opportunity to connect with your regional GDEcD and DCA representative as well as your local UGA SBDC team. Register here: https://www.georgiasbdc.org/after-covid19-pivot/

 

5. 2020 Census count lags in Georgia amid coronavirus

Georgia is lagging in its count of the 2020 U.S. Census as outreach workers struggle reaching communities in isolated areas for counting amid the coronavirus pandemic. The decennial count affects the state’s share of a huge pot of federal dollars given annually for a wide range of programs like Medicaid and Medicare, food stamps, housing vouchers, highway construction, child-care services, special education and more. Please encourage your employees to participate in this vital count.
 

6. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred thirty-six (136) confirmed positive cases and two (2) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 948
Positive Results: 105
Negative Results: 812

Pending Results: 31

  • The 86 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has two (2) patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and two (2) patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 316
Positive Results: 38
Negative Results: 254

Pending Results: 24

 

7. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 5/28

1. New OSHA guideline says employers must report workplace-caused Covid-19 cases

Add another line to the to-do list for employers reopening their facilities: They will be responsible for recording Covid-19 cases among employees if the exposure to coronavirus happened in the workplace.

Here are several steps employers need to take to comply with OSHA guidelines and follow CDC suggestions:

• The CDC suggests (but does not require) employers ask each employee whether he or she has had any Covid-19 symptoms in the past 14 days;

• Keep Covid-positive employee identities confidential;

• Ask each employee whether they’ve been in close contact with anyone who has Covid-19 or lives in a community where the disease has spread;

• For employees who have Covid-19, ask them how they believe they contracted the illness — at work or away from work;

• Review the employee’s work environment for potential Covid-19 exposure, including from co-workers, and

• If an employee is diagnosed with Covid-19 and likely contracted the disease at work, the employer must add it to their OSHA Form 300 log of work-related illness or injuries at their workplace.

The recording of a workplace-related Covid-19 case does not represent “a per se violation” of OSHA regulations, said Erik Eisenmann, who is the chairman of the national labor and employment practice for Husch Blackwell LLP.

Here is an article on the subject.  

2. What Will Manufacturing’s New Normal Be After COVID-19?

History teaches us that short-term measures taken in response to global crises lead to changes that last for decades. What most of us consider normal has already fundamentally shifted. Manufacturers who understand and act on this new normal will have ample opportunities for growth.

This IndustryWeek article covers these topics:
From Short-Term to Major Shift
The Pandemic’s Short-Term Effects on Manufacturers
Long-Term Effects
Revival of (Automated) Domestic Manufacturing
Decoupling of Supply Chains
Data Infrastructure as a Strategic Asset
Digitization as a Competitive Advantage
Remote Work, Collaboration and the ‘Virtual Shift’

 

3. Three Revealing Surveys as Highlighted by Barber Business Advisors
What will the world look like once the pandemic has passed? What are the top concerns of business leaders? 

In its annual survey of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, Fortune Magazine asked about some of the predictions being floated these days about how things will change. Among the findings:

  1. Only 27 percent expect their workers to fully return to their usual workplaces this year.
  2. A majority believe it will be the first quarter of 2022 before overall economic activity returns to levels reached before the pandemic, and another 27% don’t expect that until the first quarter of 2023.
  3. Most say business travel at their company will never return to levels reached before the crisis.
  4. Despite the economic impact, three-fourths believe the crisis will force their companies to accelerate their technological transformation.

In another survey, the World Economic Forum, Marsh & McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group asked nearly 350 senior risk professionals from large companies around the world as to their chief concerns.

  1. Two thirds said a protracted global recession was the "most worrisome" risk. The report also flagged increased inequality, a weakening of climate commitments and the misuse of technology as top risks arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Deloitte’s latest CFO Signals Survey gives a sobering indication of how long it might take for conditions to return to normal. Among the findings:

  1. 60 percent of the executives surveyed do not expect operations to return to pre-crisis levels until 2021 or later.
  2. CFOs said they are primarily focused on cutting costs instead of growing revenue, as companies look to shield against the downside amid the pandemic.
  3. They overwhelmingly expect more employees to work remotely, leading to companies having smaller real estate footprints.

4. Tesla Return to Work Playbook 

I know I have included in previous daily updates various plans to reopen and return to work. Here is one prepared by Tesla.

 

5. Restart Checklist: Requalifying Your Suppliers
What are the questions you should be asking? We can’t just flick a light switch and expect a quick return to pre-Covid-19 consumer patterns and company supply chain efficiencies. Companies need to consider a range of factors before they ramp up production again, including the readiness of their suppliers, their logistics capacity, and changes in consumer-buying behavior. Before ramping up their operations, companies first need to have confidence that their own suppliers are ready to meet the demand. They can’t just issue purchase orders and expect business as usual. Here's the link to this IndustryWeek article.

 

6. The 2020 Census Count Is Lagging

According to the 2020 Census Count people, Georgia is lagging in its count of the 2020 U.S. Census as outreach workers struggle to reach people amid the coronavirus pandemic. As you know, the decennial count affects the state’s share of federal dollars given annually for a wide range of programs like Medicaid and Medicare, food stamps, housing vouchers, highway construction, child-care services, special education and more. Please encourage your employees to participate in this vital count.

 

7. Presidential & General Primaries

In the midst of this coronavirus shutdown, election officials are conducting the Presidential & General Primaries. Many voters have a choice – vote by mail or vote in person. Absentee ballot requests can be downloaded for this election any time before the end of the business day on Friday, June 5, 2020 from the Georgia Secretary of State’s website at: https://sos.ga.gov/index.php/Elections/absentee_voting_in_georgia. Then voters can fill out the request forms and mail, email or fax them to county election offices to be sent a ballot. Voters need to request absentee ballots so election officials know whether to send them a Democratic Party, Republican Party or nonpartisan ballot. Georgia is an open primary state, meaning any voter can participate in any party’s primary. Voters can return their completed absentee ballot request forms to county election officials at any time before the June 9 primary, but they should leave enough time for ballots to be mailed and returned. Voters can also deliver their ballots in person to county election offices. Ballots must be received by county election offices before polls close on Election Day to be counted. 

 

Early voting is ongoing at the Historic Courthouse in downtown Toccoa weekdays from 8 am-5 pm, through June 5, 2020 and also on Saturday May 30, 2020 from 9 am-4 pm. On primary election day, Tuesday, June 9, 2020, polls will be moved to the Stephens County Senior Center and will be open from 7 am-7 pm.

 

8. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred thirty-two (132) confirmed positive cases and two (2) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 939
Positive Results: 99
Negative Results: 783

Pending Results: 57

  • The 84 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has two (2) patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and four (4) who are hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 316
Positive Results: 37
Negative Results: 256

Pending Results: 23

 

9. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics. I have even posted all these daily Stephens County Updates to that webpage. If you need access to any previous update, embedded link, or attached document go to: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources.

COVID-19 Update - 5/27

1. Governor Kemp Has Appointed Working Groups to Plan School Reopenings
Six working groups of educators, public health officials and representatives of state agencies and nonprofits will lead the effort to safely reopen Georgia schools closed by the coronavirus pandemic. The 72 members will divide their responsibilities among working groups responsible for distance and professional learning; school meals; mental health and wellness; connectivity and devices; supplemental learning; and facilities, transportation and equipment. Schools across Georgia have been practicing distance learning since mid-March, when the governor closed the schools to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

 

2. How Facebook Has Adapted to Virtual Interviews—and Tips for Candidates

Not everyone is in the hiring mode yet and this link may not be of interest to everyone, and while it specifically relates to the process Facebook is using to hire and onboard candidates, there are takeaways for other companies to consider. Virtual interviewing and hiring may be in all of our futures.

 

3. Recruiting and hiring from afar, done right

Here's another article on the same subject from Deloitte Private and the Washington Business Journal. Welcome to the new reality of hiring, interviewing and onboarding in today’s social-distancing world.

 

4. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred twenty-nine  (129) confirmed positive cases and two (2) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 909
Positive Results: 99
Negative Results: 783

Pending Results: 27

  • The 82 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has two (2) patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, and four (4) patients currently hospitalized awaiting results.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 307
Positive Results: 37
Negative Results: 256

Pending Results: 14

 

5. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Services

In yesterday's update I included an item on the many services offered by our Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce. Since many of our local existing industries are already members of our nationally-accredited Chamber of Commerce and are taking advantage of the various services they offer, I did not include a link to use to join the Chamber. Here is the link to join: https://www.toccoagachamber.com/members. Our Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce is here to help! Contact President Julie Paysen, julie@toccoagachamber.com, for more details.

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 5/26

1. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Services

Many of our local existing industries are already members of our nationally-accredited Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce and are taking advantage of the various services they offer. A new benefit now online is RevGenApps and Business Recovery Tools and Resources including a Getting Your Business Ready for Growth webinar. Your Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce is here to help! Contact President Julie Paysen, julie@toccoagachamber.com for more details.

 

2.  Georgia Reports Highest Unemployment Rate on Record  
The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) has announced an April preliminary unemployment rate of 11.9%. The number of unemployed increased from 342,601 to 581,820. April’s numbers represent the highest one-month recorded increase and also the highest total unemployment on record. Georgia’s April 2020 number of unemployed is more than 80,000 higher than the height of the Great Recession of 2009-2010.  Jobs were down 492,100 (-10.7 percent) over the month of April to 4,126,500, the lowest level since April 2014.  The leisure and hospitality sector, which includes the food services and drinking places and accommodation sectors, accounted for 206,700 of the job loss, 42 percent of the total. At this time, the GDOL career centers are remaining closed to the public. All online services are still available as the staff continues to answer phones, return emails, and assist applicants. The GDOL will open offices to the public as soon as social distancing can be effectively implemented to protect both staff and customers. The GDOL is also continuing to work with employers to get Georgians back to work. Employers have been contacting the GDOL with job opportunities that are critical during this crisis – some in the workplace and others that can be done from home. Today, over 97,000 jobs are listed online at EmployGeorgia.com for Georgians to access. The GDOL offers online resources for finding a job, building a resume, and assisting with other reemployment needs. Information on filing an unemployment claim, details on how employers can file partial claims, and resources for other reemployment assistance can be found on the agency’s webpage at https://dol.georgia.gov/.

 

3. Best Practices For Reopening Manufacturing Facilities

In an effort to offer the manufacturing sectors some best practices on how companies can keep employees safe while keeping plants open, the Manufacturing Leadership Council, a division of the National Association of Manufacturers, has released a new report: New Operational Practices to Consider in the Time of COVID-19


Manufacturers have been on the front lines throughout this crisis, and this guide leverages the experiences and real-world practices that manufacturers across America have put into place. The following are the sections in the report:

Facilities and Traffic Management
Shifts and Team Design
Site Access to Mitigate Exposure
Workstation Measures to Promote Social Distancing          
Leave Policies
Illness or Diagnosis Response
Essential Travel Policies
Returning Non Essential Workers

 

4. CDC Releases Resources to Assist States to Open
The CDC has released new resources to help states, localities, businesses, and community organizations operate as safely as possible. Here are some of the resources that may be of interest to counties:

Considerations for Youth and Summer Camps

Considerations for Youth Sports 

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred twenty-three (123) confirmed positive cases and two (2) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 873
Positive Results: 95
Negative Results: 742

Pending Results: 36

  • The 81 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has two (2) patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19.
  • The hospital is also offering COVID-19 Antibody Testing through its outpatient lab by a doctor’s order. This is a blood test that may be able to show if you have been exposed to COVID-19. This is not to show if you have an active infection. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have symptoms or think you currently have COVID-19. The test may also not detect if you’ve been exposed in all cases because it can take at least two weeks after exposure for you to develop antibodies.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 293
Positive Results: 36
Negative Results: 243

Pending Results: 14

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 5/22

1. PPP Loan Forgiveness Application

I know not everyone applied or received funds from the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), and I know the rules keep changing; but attached is the latest version of the 11-page SBA Loan Forgiveness Application. The U.S. Small Business Administration also stated it, “will also soon issue regulations and guidance to further assist borrowers as they complete their applications, and to provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities.”

 

2. Social Distancing Well-Being Survey

Please participate - a friend of our community has asked us to help with this Penn State University study. The researcher is trying to reach at least 2000 people and this information will help us better understand the effects of self-isolation on health in this pandemic.  
Also: Participation allows you to enter a drawing to win a prize ($200 grand prize by check; 8 $100 amazon gift cards; 10 $50 amazon gift cards).
The survey is completely confidential. In order to enter the drawing you need to put in your email address and first name, but those identifiers are not linked to your responses -- pointing this out because some of the questions are personal in nature.
The survey can be launched from this link: https://tinyurl.com/SDWBStudy.

 

4. Manufacturer are Stepping Up to Help During COVID-19
Helping communities and people in crisis has always been part of the manufacturing's DNA. Whether it is donating supplies, providing funds to relief efforts, or in this case helping employees, and communities get through the COVID-19 crisis, manufacturers always step up to the plate. Here are some highlights of what companies are doing right now to help those affected by COVID-19.

 

3. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred seventeen (117) confirmed positive cases and two (2) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 842
Positive Results: 92
Negative Results: 761

Pending Results: 34

  • The 74 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has no patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, but they do have 1 patient currently hospitalized awaiting results.  
  • The hospital is also offering COVID-19 Antibody Testing through its outpatient lab by a doctor’s order. This is a blood test that may be able to show if you have been exposed to COVID-19. This is not to show if you have an active infection. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have symptoms or think you currently have COVID-19. The test may also not detect if you’ve been exposed in all cases because it can take at least two weeks after exposure for you to develop antibodies.  

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 280
Positive Results: 36
Negative Results: 229

Pending Results: 15

 

4. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 5/21

1. GDOL Claims Conversion Program Instruction I mentioned this in an email earlier this week, but here below is a flyer from the Georgia Department of Labor with information that will help employers who are filing partial unemployment claims for those employees who have been completely separated due to COVID-19.

2. Tips from attorneys on mitigating the risk of being sued by an employee or customer after reopening
I'm not attorney and I'm not offering legal advice, but here are four tips you may want to discuss with your own legal counsel: 1) Consider the state guidelines as the floor, not the ceiling to protect yourself from someone who says they caught coronavirus at your business.
2) Read — and understand — the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
3) Keep an "incident log," which will strengthen your case in the courtroom.
4) Make sure any incidents are reported to the right authorities, and be conscious of employee privacy.

3. Some Wage-and-Hour Traps to Consider With the same disclaimer as above, here are some thoughts to consider as workers return to offices and plants:

  • Even little things may be payable: Employers must ensure their employees do not perform compensatory work off the clock.
  • Safety prep: Employers must pay for time spent on required temperature checks or donning protective gear.
  • Work breaks: Breaks of short duration, customarily five to 20 minutes, should be paid.
  • Overtime abuses: Even if an employee works overtime that was not authorized, it must still be paid.
  • Other abuses of working hours: Many companies have installed various tracking tools on their employees’ work devices to monitor their employees’ web activities throughout the day; this not only ensures that hourly employees are performing compensable work while clocked in, but it also allows companies to analyze their employees’ overall productivity and efficiency. But, before you do that, check with a lawyer about privacy concerns.
  • Furloughed workers: If salaried workers perform any work — even one minute, a single phone call, even one email — they must be paid.

4. On the Lighter Side of Things

A Canadian woman has come up with an ingenious way to safely hug her mother, even during the coronavirus pandemic: the "hug glove", a plastic tarp with four sleeves hanging from a clothesline.

5. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred seventeen (117) confirmed positive cases and two (2) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics. Tests Completed: 842
Positive Results: 92
Negative Results: 716 Pending Results: 34

Currently the hospital has no patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, but they do have 1 patient currently hospitalized awaiting results.

The 74 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.

The hospital is also offering COVID-19 Antibody Testing through its outpatient lab by a doctor’s order. This is a blood test that may be able to show if you have been exposed to COVID-19. This is not to show if you have an active infection. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have symptoms or think you currently have COVID-19. The test may also not detect if you’ve been exposed in all cases because it can take at least two weeks after exposure for you to develop antibodies.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 280
Positive Results: 36
Negative Results: 229 Pending Results: 15

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 5/20

1. GDOL Launches Claims Conversion Program for Employers
Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler has announced the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) now has a program which will allow employer filed partial claims to be converted to individual claims. This new process will allow employees who are permanently terminated the opportunity to continue receiving benefits without interruption.

"It is our continuing goal to create workforce solutions," said GDOL Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. "This program will allow employees who have been permanently laid off the opportunity to instantly convert their claim to an individual one ensuring continued benefits without having to refile their claim."

As employers reopen their businesses, many have had questions on the process for transitioning employees from unemployment back to employment. The GDOL will begin rolling out the Claims Conversion Program this week with a series of webinars explaining options for getting employees back to work. In the past, when an employer permanently laid off an employee, the employee then had to file an individual claim, a process now taking more than 30 days. With this new program, this conversion will be made immediately without the employee having to refile the claim. The Claims Conversion Program will outline the steps for employees working reduced hours, permanent layoffs, employee refusals to return to work, severance packages, and other employment challenges.

At this time, the GDOL career centers are remaining closed to the public. All online services are still available as the staff continues to answer phones, return emails, and assist applicants. The GDOL will open offices to the public as soon as social distancing can be effectively implemented to protect both staff and customers.

The GDOL is also continuing to work with employers to get Georgians back to work. Employers have been contacting the GDOL with job opportunities that are critical during this crisis - some in the workplace and others that can be done from home. Today, over 101,000 jobs are listed online at EmployGeorgia.com

Information on filing an unemployment claim, details on how employers can file partial claims, and resources for other reemployment assistance can be found on the agency's webpage at dol.georgia.gov.

2. COVID-19 Occupational Risk Score

Many individuals have been practicing social distancing by working from home in recent weeks. While this arrangement can be a great way to reduce one’s exposure to COVID-19, it’s a luxury that’s available to just 29% of Americans. The situation for the remaining 71% is uncertain, to say the least. A significant portion of the population has lost their jobs due to business shutdowns and mandated lockdown orders. Others employed in “essential services” have continued working as usual, but may face a higher risk of potential exposure to the virus.

This article and the infographic (attached to this email) leverages data from the Occupational Information Network to determine which occupations face the highest risk of exposure to COVID-19.

 

3. Interactive Map of Georgia Companies Producing Critical Supplies to Fight COVID-19

Georgia companies statewide have joined the fight against COVID-19 by providing critical supplies to front line workers and businesses to help ensure safe operations. We are proud of these companies and pleased to share with the public the searchable supply-specific interactive map, as well as a PDF version of the list. To view the latest PDF version of the Georgia Suppliers List, click the link below.
Georgia Suppliers List 
Select categories to filter the list of Georgia suppliers. Enter a city or zip code in the search menu to further narrow your search.

 

3. Guide to Parenting & Family Health During COVID-19
You have employees who are parents. Parents face unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19. Parenting is always a demanding job, and the pandemic raises the stakes even higher. Use these practical tips to guide your family through the COVID-19 crisis.

4. Unprecedented Absentee Ballot Returns

The Georgia State Election Board is reporting huge numbers of votes by absentee ballots for Georgia’s June 9 primary election. To date, over 1.4 million absentee ballots have been requested in Georgia, 1.3 million have been mailed to voters, and 360,000 have been returned. Only 36,000 absentee ballots were processed in Georgia’s last presidential primary. Please encourage your employees to vote.

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred fourteen (114) confirmed positive cases and two (2) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 811
Positive Results: 91
Negative Results: 704

Pending Results: 16

  • The 72 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered. 
  • The hospital currently has no patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, but they do have 1 patient currently hospitalized who is awaiting results.
  • The hospital is also offering COVID-19 Antibody Testing through its outpatient lab by a doctor’s order. This is a blood test that may be able to show if you have been exposed to COVID-19. This is not to show if you have an active infection. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have symptoms or think you currently have COVID-19. The test may also not detect if you’ve been exposed in all cases because it can take at least two weeks after exposure for you to develop antibodies.  

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 280
Positive Results: 34
Negative Results: 232

Pending Results: 14

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 5/19

1. Updated COVID-19 Guidance from the CDC
The CDC has released new, more detailed guidance on how states can safely allow businesses and schools to reopen their doors during the coronavirus pandemic. This guidance, while voluntary, is the most specific instruction yet from the federal government on how not to trigger an outbreak, as states push to reopen and most have already started to do so.

The guidelines, posted on the agency's website, include ones designed for businesses and workplaces as well as for schools and childcare programs and many other areas. 
The guidance includes various "decision tools" for specific institutions. Here are the broad areas and specific recommendations:

 

Community Locations and Events

Education and Child Care

Shared Housing and Institutions

Public Services and Infrastructure

2. Updated guidance from the U.S. Small Business Administration

The SBA has released its much-anticipated instructions for how Paycheck Protection Program borrowers can see their loans forgiven.

3. Negotiation Tips from a Hostage Negotiator

The pandemic is forcing any number of difficult conversations, from landlord and vendor concessions to labor commitments. Who better to offer suggestions about how to have difficult, sensitive conversations than a hostage negotiator.

4. How to Relax and Be Confident on Zoom

A body language expert who’s worked with the likes of Google points out that body language influences how we feel and the feelings we generate in others—even during videoconferences.

 

5. Office Life Could Change When the Economy Reopens
The Robert Half HR consulting firm, through an independent research firm, surveyed 1,000 people from April 17-22, 2020: 

77% of whom said they were currently working from home,
79% of employees said their bosses need to allow them to work from home more frequently,

74% said they'd like to work remotely more than before the Covid-19 pandemic,
56% worry about being in close proximity to colleagues,

72% will rethink shaking hands with business contacts,

72% will schedule fewer in-person meetings,

61% will spend less time in common office areas,

59% will reconsider attending in-person business events,

57% will reconsider traveling for business,

73% think there will be fewer in-person social and team-building activities,
79% want their companies to clean better,

55% want to stagger employees' work schedules,

52% would require employees to wear masks,

46% would change the office layout,

63% realize their job is doable from home,
60% said their work-life balance has improved because they no longer have a commute,
43% have become more comfortable using technology,
20% said they're closer to colleagues, and 

19% are closer to their boss

 

6. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred-thirteen (113) confirmed positive cases and two (2) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 780
Positive Results: 88
Negative Results: 677

Pending Results: 15

  • Currently, the Stephens County Hospital has no patients with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19, but they do have 5 patients hospitalized who are awaiting results.
  • The 64 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • The hospital is also offering COVID-19 Antibody Testing through its outpatient lab by a doctor’s order. This is a blood test that may be able to show if you have been exposed to COVID-19. This is not to show if you have an active infection. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have symptoms or think you currently have COVID-19. The test may also not detect if you’ve been exposed in all cases because it can take at least two weeks after exposure for you to develop antibodies.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 260
Positive Results: 34
Negative Results: 216

Pending Results: 10

 

7. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 5/18

1. How are Manufacturers Dealing With the Coronavirus?

Recently IndustryWeek asked its audience to tell them about how they are being impacted by and addressing the coronavirus. Their idea was to collect specific tactics and practices manufacturing leadership is using to maintain safety and productivity, to share ideas that perhaps other facilities had not considered, and to remind everyone that we are all learning as we go. They conducted the survey from April 13-20 via email and social media requests. After light cleaning of the data from approximately 465 completed surveys, here, and attached below, is what they learned.

 

Here's the takeaway paragraph from the survey: "It is fair to say that IndustryWeek was at least a little surprised at the optimism of the answers—many manufacturers still working, fewer supply chain disruptions than we anticipated, and a very high percentage of respondents happy with the efforts being made by their companies. We also recognize however, that this survey is a snapshot in time, and events continue to unfold without warning. As one respondent noted: 'It's amazing to think that you have complete control but to find you have absolutely none.' We’ll do this survey again and track how sentiments and actions have changed."

 

2. A Regimen for Reentry

This is a lengthy article in The New Yorker, but it relates how health-care workers who have been on the job throughout the pandemic have successfully navigated this situation. Here's a takeaway from the article: "These lessons point toward an approach that we might think of as a combination therapy—like a drug cocktail. Its elements are all familiar: hygiene measures (wash your hands, even ten times a day), screening (for a new fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, nasal congestion or a runny nose), distancing (no large gatherings, limit time together, maintain separation), and masks (the basic logic is: I protect you; you protect me,). Each has flaws. Skip one, and the treatment won’t work. But, when taken together, and taken seriously, they shut down the virus." 

 

3. Thriving Industries & Companies

With all that's going on, have you wondered which industries are growing the fastest? Gazelle.ai did! And they put it all together for us in one data-driven infographic. Despite it all, there are numerous opportunities all around us. Here's advice to help you think creatively!  

 

4. How to collaborate and stay connected even when working from home

Our friends at Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE) offer this advice.

 

5. You can get a gym-worthy core workout with paper plates!

Is your favorite gym closed? Here are five everyday household items that will turbocharge your living room exercise routine.

6. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred-seven (107) confirmed positive cases and two (2) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 759
Positive Results: 86
Negative Results: 661

Pending Results: 21

  • The 63 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • The hospital is also offering COVID-19 Antibody Testing through its outpatient lab by a doctor’s order. This is a blood test that may be able to show if you have been exposed to COVID-19. This is not to show if you have an active infection. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have symptoms or think you currently have COVID-19. The test may also not detect if you’ve been exposed in all cases because it can take at least two weeks after exposure for you to develop antibodies.  

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 250
Positive Results: 33
Negative Results: 198

Pending Results: 19

 

7. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 5/15

1. Latest Executive Order from Governor Kemp

I previously shared a link to this recent order, but here are a few of the key aspects:

  • Governor Kemp extended the executive order keeping live performance venues, bars, and nightclubs closed through May 31, 2020. The continued closure of government-operated public swimming pools was not extended in this order. 
  • Regarding the safe reopening of state agencies such as GDEcD, the Department of Administrative Services is taking the lead.
  • Guidance will be issued to employees, contractors and constituents – and more detailed announcements will be made in the coming days on how the state will be phasing into limited, in-person operations at state agencies.
  • All Georgians must continue to follow social distancing, and gatherings of more than 10 people remain banned unless a space of least six feet can be maintained between each person.
  • The gatherings ban applies to all non-critical infrastructure businesses, local governments, and organizations of all types, including social groups, informal get-togethers, and recreational sports, just to name a few.
  • The list of requirements for non-critical infrastructure has been extended to also include a 22nd provision regarding those establishments that use volunteers. The list has been updated in Category 3 here.
  • Georgians and visitors are encouraged to wear face coverings in public, per CDC recommendations.
  • Do not put off health care appointments. Please follow a regular screening and vaccination schedule to stay healthy.
  • Additionally, COVID-19 testing is available for all Georgians, regardless of whether you have coronavirus symptoms. Anyone can call their local health department to get scheduled for testing. They can also download the Augusta University ExpressCare app, visit augustahealth.org, or call (706) 721-1852.

Additional details on the executive order:

  • This new executive order will increase the number of people allowed in a single classroom of a childcare facility from 10 to 20 people so long as staff-to-children ratios set by the Department of Early Care and Learning are also maintained.
  • New guidance was issued as part of the order for childcare facilities and summer day camps, which may begin on May 14, provided they follow 32 requirements.
  • Overnight summer camps are still prohibited at this time.
  • Some new provisions have been issued for gyms and fitness centers (classes are allowed, subject to strict social distancing and sanitation rules).
  • Restaurants may now allow 10 patrons per 300 square feet of space (a change from 10 patrons per 500 square feet) and increase the party size from six to 10 people per table.

Details on these changes and new requirements can be found on the FAQ page prepared by the state and is updated regularly.

 

More COVID-19 information:

  • To streamline contact tracing across the state, the Georgia Department of Public Health is rolling out a new online monitoring tool to assist with contact tracing. The Healthy Georgia Collaborative allows Georgians to identify contacts and monitor symptoms and will help map and isolate the spread of COVID-19 in communities across the state.
  • If you are contacted by DPH staff, you are strongly encouraged to participate in the contact tracing program.
  • Governor Kemp has also announced a donation by AT&T to the Georgia Department of Education, Foundation for Public Education to deploy 448 Wi-Fi Rangers to 36 school districts, filling the internet connectivity gap for thousands of students in rural areas, and tripling the number of Wi-Fi buses in the state. For more information, click here.

2. Here's an updated listing of Georgia PPE suppliers

This list can be found on the GDEcD web site.

 

3. Digital Meeting Etiquette

The growing COVID-19 pandemic is changing our world and the way we conduct business on a day-to-day basis. Webinars and digital meetings are quickly becoming the norm, but for those who are new to this type of technology and meetings, it can be a bit of an adjustment. Whether you’re using Zoom, Skype or Google Hangouts, it helps to know proper webinar etiquette and best practices to make webinars and digital meetings run more smoothly. Check out this article.

 

4. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of ninety-four (94) confirmed positive cases and one (1) reported death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 759
Positive Results: 85
Negative Results: 651

Pending Results: 23

  • The 62 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • The hospital is also offering COVID-19 Antibody Testing through its outpatient lab by a doctor’s order. This is a blood test that may be able to show if you have been exposed to COVID-19. This is not to show if you have an active infection. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have symptoms or think you currently have COVID-19. The test may also not detect if you’ve been exposed in all cases because it can take at least two weeks after exposure for you to develop antibodies.  

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 242
Positive Results: 33
Negative Results: 195

Pending Results: 14

 

5. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 5/14

1. Return-To-Work Checklist Considerations For Covid-19 

As state and local governments around the country begin relaxing social distancing restrictions, employers are faced with a new set of unprecedented challenges. In addition to navigating a labyrinth of inconsistent requirements imposed by local and state authorities, employers must be prepared to implement additional measures to keep employees and customers safe while staying legally compliant. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, the Burr & Forman article and the PowerPoint pdf attached to this email outlines some considerations that all businesses should take into account when planning to return-to-work. 

 

Pay special attention to page 14 on the PowerPoint pdf and the section on Required Leave. It discusses the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which includes two provisions offering relief to employees needing time off for reasons related to COVID-19 namely the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). 

 

These attachments also make the point that pre-existing labor laws are not suspended, so pay close attention to current OSHA, NLRA, Title VII/ADEA/Equal Pay Act, and Non-COVID FMLA laws.

 

(Burr & Forman’s experienced legal team serves as trusted business advisors and legal counsel to clients in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.)

 

Including this information on this email does not constitute an endorsement of this particular service or firm. Please continue to follow the guidance of your own advisors.

 

2. Georgia Department of Public Health Expands Reporting

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has added more reports and data to the COVID-19 Daily Status Report including positive case and death graphs by county, a daily long term care report, the GEMA daily report, a CSV file of the data, a What’s New feature and a guide to understanding the data.

3. Presidential Summation of Federal COVID-19 Response

I came across this five-page summation of federal responses to COVID-19 from President Donald Trump’s office. It lists the various programs from federal agencies such as HHS, SBA, USDT, HUD, DOL, DoED, USDA, DOT, VA, DOS, and DOJ.

4. Losing your motivation to exercise as the pandemic drags on? Here’s how to get it back.

I won't link to the Washington Post article as it is behind a paywall, but here are the main points: Be kind to yourself, give yourself some grace. Set new goals that account for your circumstances and priorities. Stay accountable, keep a chart and check a box for every day you work out. Look forward; don't focus on how you feel now, but on how energized you'll be after you exercise.

 

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of ninety-four med positive cases and one (1) reported death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 741
Positive Results: 81
Negative Results: 625

Pending Results: 35

  • There are currently no patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19
  • The 59 patients that were treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered. 
  • SCH is now offering COVID-19 Antibody Testing through its outpatient lab by a doctor’s order. This is a blood test that may be able to show if you have been exposed to COVID-19. This is not to show if you have an active infection. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have symptoms or think you currently have COVID-19. The test may also not detect if you’ve been exposed in all cases because it can take at least two weeks after exposure for you to develop antibodies.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 231
Positive Results: 33
Negative Results: 189

Pending Results: 9

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 5/13

1. Gov. Kemp keeps bars, nightclubs closed until month’s end; issues new restaurant rules

Georgia bars and nightclubs will have to remain closed and businesses will have to continue to follow state safety guidelines until at least the end of the month, Gov. Brian Kemp announced in a news conference yesterday.

Kemp signed a new executive order outlining the rules and guidelines as the state continues to reopen. In his new order, Kemp is expanding the number of people allowed in restaurants. He’s allowing more children to be in daycare classes and the reopening of summer day camps beginning May 14, if they follow CDC guidelines.  

Kemp also urged Georgians who test positive for COVID-19 to participate in a contact tracing program. Anyone who tests positive will get a call from the Department of Public Health. They want patients to help them track this virus so state officials can get ahead of it.

 

2. Georgia Chief Justice extends statewide state of emergency through June 12
Georgia’s chief justice Harold Melton has again extended the statewide judicial emergency through June 12 in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, continuing his bar of jury trial and grand juries in most instances. The latest extension is needed because “most court facilities are not prepared to comply with social distancing and other public health requirements to safeguard the health of litigants, lawyers, judges, court personnel, and the public during extensive in-court proceedings or proceedings involving a large number of people.” He added “that most courts have continued some non-essential court operations, in particular by using technology to conduct proceedings remotely.”

 

3. Goodwill of North Georgia to reopen all of its stores

Goodwill of North Georgia is ready to get back to work — and help others do the same. Goodwill has been closed for nearly eight weeks because of the Covid-19 pandemic. On May 6, it reopened 21 of its 65 stores, as well as four of its 13 career centers. On May 13, It will open the remaining locations.

To prepare for workers and customers, staff conducted deep cleanings at all of the facilities. That plan also included using an "eco-friendly misting process endorsed by federal health authorities" on all merchandise and throughout its locations. As part of Goodwill's gradual reopening, it's asking consumers not to bring donations yet.

4. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of ninety-three (93) confirm for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 713
Positive Results: 81
Negative Results: 619

Pending Results: 13

Additional Stephens County Hospital (SCH) Updates

  • SCH currently has no patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19
  • 56 patients treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • The drive-through testing site at SCH will be discontinued. This is largely due to the declining number of people coming through this testing site. If you had previously planned on using this testing site, contact WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care Clinic at 706-282-5815 to arrange testing which can be done Monday – Friday. Testing is also available at Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Internal Medicine for patients of that practice and at Currahee Pediatrics for pediatric patients of that practice.
  • Contact Carmen Kisner, RN, the Stephens County Infection Control Director, at 706-282-4497 if you would like to schedule testing at your place of business. There is no cost to obtain the test. If you have insurance, the hospital will submit charges to your insurance with no out-of-pocket cost and if you don’t have insurance, the government is reimbursing the hospital for the cost, so don’t worry about inability to pay for COVID-19 assessments, testing, or treatment.

     

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 224
Positive Results: 31
Negative Results: 182

Pending Results: 9

 

5. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 5/12

1.Gov. Kemp asks all Georgians, even those with no symptoms, to be screened for Covid-19

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has released new guidelines that includes prioritizing testing of people with no symptoms and the state is following the recommendation, said Governor Kemp. Kemp also said the state is now working on lab capacity after the recent surge in testing strained resources and slowed processing of the tests.

The Stephens County Hospital has the capacity to do these recommended screens. Carmen Kisner, RN, the Stephens County Infection Control Director, is the point of contact (706-282-4497). There is no cost to obtain the test. If you have insurance, the hospital will submit charges to your insurance with no out-of-pocket cost and if you don’t have insurance, the government is reimbursing the hospital for the cost, so don’t worry about inability to pay for COVID-19

assessments, testing, or treatment.

The hospital can come to your place of business and conduct the tests.

 

2. Contact Tracers

The Georgia Department of Public Health is now hiring temporary “contact tracers” to call those who have tested positive for Covid-19, find out who they have been in contact with and then call those people to guide them on testing and quarantine protocols. The contact tracing is key in identifying everyone in a community who may be infected, Toomey said.  

To halt the spread of covid-19 as states reopen, the country needs a network of contact tracers — people who are trained to track and notify possibly infected individuals and map their exposures to others. “Contact tracers are … part detective, part therapist and part social worker,” said one epidemiologist. To address the need, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health designed an online course. Here's how you can take it and help fight the spread.

 

3. Employer Filed Partial Claims Information from GDOL
The Georgia Department of Labor has provided the following guidelines as you and your employees return to work.


GDOL encourages employers to work with their employees on plans to return to work. When business operations resume to normal operations as it was prior to the COVID-19 crisis, employers should discontinue submitting employer-filed partial claims for any employee who returns to their regular normal work schedule and is earning more than the weekly benefit amount (WBA) plus $300.

However, GDOL understands some businesses will gradually return to full operation and many of their employees will be brought back to work on reduced hours. In these cases, the employees are eligible to continue to receive unemployment benefits. Employers are strongly encouraged to continue to submit weekly employer filed partial claims during this period.

Examples
For example, if you bring your employees back to work gradually and Employee A is working 30 hours a week at $15 an hour, you would report his/her earnings for the week as $450. If Employee A is receiving $250 per week from the GDOL in regular state unemployment benefits, you would add the $300 exemption amount and the $250 weekly benefit amount from the GDOL yielding $550. Since they earned $450 from the employer for the week and that is less than the $550, Employee A would still be eligible for $100 in state benefits and the additional $600 per week in federal benefits.

If Employee B is working 30 hours a week at $30 an hour, you would report his/her earnings for the week at $900. If Employee B is receiving $325 per week from the GDOL, you would add the $300 exemption amount and the $325 weekly benefit amount yielding $625. Since they are earning more from the employer at $900 than the allowed amount of $625 to receive benefits, Employee B would not be eligible for state benefits or the additional $600 per week in federal benefits.

If a decision is made to permanently lay off employees, GDOL strongly encourages employers to continue to submit weekly employer filed partial claims on their behalf until further instructions are provided by the GDOL. The GDOL is currently developing a process where employers will be able to identify on the employer filed partial claim spreadsheet those employees permanently laid off. This transition will keep individual claimants from having to refile his/her claim starting the process over again. The claimant will be notified to begin requesting their own weekly unemployment payments.

 4. Tax professionals break down other CARES Act options

If a company doesn’t qualify for a Paycheck Protection Program loan or has yet to receive approval from a bank, there are other options outlined in coronavirus legislation designed to free up cash for organizations of all sizes. Check out this article that covers the Employee Retention Credit, Payroll Tax Deferral Program, Net Operating Loss Carryover Provisions, and Qualified Improvement Property Depreciation. 

 

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of ninety-two (92) confirmed positive cases and one (1) reported death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 689
Positive Results: 81
Negative Results: 601

Pending Results: 7

 

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 222
Positive Results: 31
Negative Results: 184

Pending Results: 7

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 5/11

1. Want To Reopen Your Building? Here's A Post-Pandemic Shopping List To Get Ready.
Office space will be reinvented in a post-pandemic environment, but the immediate needs of office occupants will be more straightforward: equipment necessary to provide safe environments for workers returning to offices over the next weeks and months. The supplies office owners and property managers say they need or want varies from the basics — sanitizing stations, better air filtration and social distancing signage — to the high-tech. But how much will outfitting these buildings cost, and which products make sense to buy together? Which are necessities and which are luxuries? Bisnow Commercial Real Estate News set out to create a sort of shopping list of such equipment — not comprehensive, but a starting point showing what options are available and a rough guide to their cost. The products and companies mentioned are examples meant to illustrate our new reality, and are not meant as endorsements or recommendations. Here is the link to the article.

2. More Reopening Advice

As more businesses across the country reopen, the volume of resources for best practices on how to do that continues to grow.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore has released a toolkit to help businesses figure out how to reopen safely following weeks of shutdown.

Design firm Mackenzie of Portland, Oregon, has developed a guide that promotes such ideas as limiting visitor access to workspaces, creating one-way traffic flows at entrances and shutting down every other restroom sink when they’re less than six feet apart.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. has produced a 60-page pdf called SAFE Retail that includes tips — and even ready-to-print signs — that could help other retailers get back to work.

An article dated May 8, 2020 in the Atlanta Business Chronicle suggested these six things to consider before reopening: 1. Review your contracts and agreements, 2. Create a planning team, 3. Decide on procedures for screening and social distancing, 4. Create proper signage and waivers, 5. Decide how to bring employees back to work, and 6. Document your policies.

3. How to Reinvent Your Company Events

Some companies are starting to plan for their next in-person gathering, whenever that may be. Needless to say, event planners — and public health professionals — have plenty of advice for next steps. Read on for what they say. As you might imagine, WHO has published additional guidance: Key Planning Recommendations for Mass Gatherings.

 

4. Toccoa Falls College Announces Plans for Fall Semester

Toccoa Falls College President, Dr. Bob Myers encourages new freshman and transfer students that TFC plans to be “back in business” for Fall 2020!

TFC joined many other schools in moving courses fully online in March after the COVID-19 outbreak. The majority of students returned to their homes where virtual instruction was utilized to complete the Spring semester.

Toccoa Falls College is beginning to strategize what life will look like for new and returning students. The safety of TFC students, faculty, and staff is the top priority moving forward into this unprecedented season. Details and safety updates based on the ever-changing health crisis will be released throughout the summer.

TFC Admissions plans to re-open for prospective student visits June 1st with safety precautions in place. Until then feel free to check out the TFC Virtual Campus Tour at tfc.edu/virtual.

4. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of ninety-one (91) confirmed positive cases and one (1) reported death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 663
Positive Results: 80
Negative Results: 563

Pending Results: 20

 

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 215
Positive Results: 29
Negative Results: 176

Pending Results: 10

 

5. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 5/8

1. Stephens County Hospital Update
The hospital is continuing its drive-through testing site which is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 9 AM to 3 PM. So far, they’ve tested 94 people through that drive-through testing site which opened last Wednesday. They will continue to offer that service for the community. You’ll need a doctor’s order to be tested, and you can get that from your primary care provider, or from the hospital's WorkWell Immediate Care Clinic. There is no cost to obtain an order from our WorkWell clinic or from any of our primary care providers and there is no cost to be tested, but you do need to have that doctor’s order when you arrive at the testing site. If you have insurance, we will submit charges to your insurance with no out-of-pocket cost and if you don’t have insurance, the government is reimbursing us for the cost, so don’t worry about inability to pay for COVID-19 assessments, testing, or treatment.

 

2. Recordkeeping Requirements for COVID-19 Cases
OSHA has released a recordkeeping resource for businesses to track and record employees who contract COVID-19. 

READ MORE >>>  

3. Department of Insurance Guidelines for COVID-19 Job and Insurance Coverage Loss
This bulletin from the Georgia Office of Insurance is intended to direct Georgians who lose their jobs towards resources that may provide health insurance coverage.

READ MORE >>>  
 

4. Internet Access Resources Updated

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs has updated its broadband resources website. It includes a map of free public WIFI locations and listing of companies and the free services or discounts they’re offering. This may be of particular interest to employees and their at-home and mobile situations! Here's the link: https://broadband.georgia.gov/options-internet-mobile-phone

5. Tips for Tracking Your Temperature

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield provides the following information. People who develop COVID-19 can experience a wide range of symptoms. One of the main symptoms is fever, or having a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. For those exposed or those with loved ones at highest risk for severe illness for COVID-19, tracking your temperature each day can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among loved ones, coworkers and communities. The earlier you become aware of a fever, the quicker you can isolate yourself from others and talk to a doctor.

Who should track their temperature?
There are certain circumstances where tracking your temperature is important to help keep those around you safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you track your temperature if:

  1. You are an essential worker. If you are required to go to work because you are considered an essential employee or work in an essential industry, your employer may take your temperature before you start each shift. You should also regularly watch for symptoms at home, which includes taking your temperature each day.
  2. You have been in contact with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19. This includes contact in the 48 hours before their symptoms first began. You should isolate yourself for 14 days, take your temperature twice a day to monitor for fever and self-monitor for other symptoms, including coughing or shortness of breath.

Thermometer options
There are a variety of thermometer types, including digital, liquid-in-glass (mercury), noncontact (touchless infrared) and disposable dot matrix or phase-change (single use). When you use a thermometer to take your body temperature at home, be sure to follow the specific instructions for using and cleaning that thermometer.

To track your temperature and symptoms over several days, you can use this log from the CDC. Mobile apps like Body Temperature Recorder are also popular.

Suggestions for accuracy
For an accurate temperature reading:

  1. Wait 30 minutes after eating, drinking or exercising before taking your temperature.
  2. Wait six hours after taking fever-reducing medicines, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, before taking your temperature.
  3. If you use a liquid-in-glass thermometer, hold the tip under your tongue near the back of your mouth. Do not bite down.

If you want to learn what to do if you develop a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19, visit the CDC.

 

6. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of ninety-one (91) confirmed positive cases and one (1) reported death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 657
Positive Results: 75
Negative Results: 547

Pending Results: 35

 

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 211
Positive Results: 29
Negative Results: 165

Pending Results: 17

 

7. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 5/7

1. SBA Offers Disaster Assistance to Residents of Georgia

Several of our existing industries were impacted by the April 12-13, 2020 severe storms, tornadoes, and straight-line winds. Stephens County E-911 Director Danielle Rhodes has informed us that “following the Presidential disaster declaration for several counties in South Carolina affected by severe storms, tornadoes and straight-line winds on April 12-13, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced businesses and residents in the declared area can now apply for low-interest disaster loans.” Several Georgia counties (Burke, Effingham, Franklin, Habersham, Hart, Rabun, Richmond, Screven and Stephensare also eligible for SBA assistance. SBA has opened a Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center/Business Recovery Center (VDLOC/VBRC) to help survivors apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ and there are virtual customer support representatives available to assist applicants with completing the online application. Please let me know if I can assist you in any way.

 

2. Layoffs Can Bring Litigation

Dismissing an employee is rarely easy. Doing it during a pandemic adds to the challenge for an employer because of potential legal ramifications from any missteps.

“The risk of making mistakes in this environment is much higher than when employers have more time to roll out reductions in force,” said Brett Painter, a partner in the employment and labor group at Denver-based law firm Davis Graham & Stubbs, speaking to the Denver Business Journal.

Companies are making a host of snap decisions in hopes of staying afloat. It’s when those decisions don’t give employees their just due that executives can run into trouble.

Among the counsel from attorneys to make sure you proceed correctly:

  • Document why layoffs are needed.
  • Don’t forget about Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notices.
  • Talk to employees if they don’t want to return to work and you receive a PPP loan.
  • Consider how to rehire employees.
  • Address employee health concerns.
  • Don’t forget about union rules.

3. Burger, Fries and Social Distancing

If you haven’t yet ventured to your favorite restaurant, what might it look like when it reopens? Here are some of the safety-first measures being implemented by Ohio-based Piada Italian Street Food, which has 40 restaurants in seven states, by way of example:

  • Employees get a health-check questionnaire before clocking in.
  • 20-minute timers alert employees to re-clean the dining room.
  • No paper menus or self-serve utensil and beverage stations.
  • Chair legs zip tied to tables so spacing can’t be modified.

“The things that we have in place are going to be the minimum requirements for every state,” Executive Chef Matt Harding told Columbus Business First. “We built our platform for reopening on a platform of trust. So if we’re going to choose something, we’re going to choose it so the guests will choose to trust us more.”

Another example of what you might see can be found in Milwaukee, where Adam Pawlak’s Egg & Flour Pasta Bar has turned to partitions as a measure to promote safety. Plastic dividers are being installed between tables and between the dining area and kitchen of the open-concept restaurant.

4. Also in the Headlines:

• Three of every five businesses in and around Buffalo, New York, say they will postpone investments because of the economic damage of the coronavirus, adding that some of those decisions may be permanent. The input comes from a survey of 1,800 companies by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and 20 local chambers and economic development organizations.

• Trying to stave off the devaluation of your business? Here are checklists for both financial and nonfinancial steps you can take.  

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of ninty-one (91) confirmed positive cases and one (1) reported death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 612
Positive Results: 66
Negative Results: 502

Pending Results: 44

 

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 202
Positive Results: 28
Negative Results: 158

Pending Results: 16

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics. I have even posted all these daily Stephens County Updates to that webpage. If you need access to any previous update, embedded link, or attached document go to: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources.

COVID-19 Update - 5/6

1. Business Impact of COVID-19 Toccoa-Stephens County

Today is the last day this survey is open!

Everyone is scrambling to manage their business in response to COVID-19. All of us are overwhelmed with a flood of information that can change quickly.  Numbers are critically important to tell the collective story of the COVID-19 virus impact on our local business community. Our numbers help detail the reality for decision makers. Leaders locally, regionally, and nationally are acting on assumptions. With your help, we can give them real numbers.
Take the Survey Now.

As a business executive, we would very much appreciate your input. It will take about seven (7) minutes to complete the survey. Your responses are absolutely confidential. Responses will only be reported in aggregate. The aggregate results of this survey will be used to inform local and state elected officials, government agencies, and others of the economic and human impact of the COVID-19 virus here. This survey will be open until Wednesday, May 6, 2020 and then will be conducted again in a couple of weeks as things are changing quickly. Thank you for your support!
Take the Survey Now.

 

2. Perspectives from Washington, D.C.

As you might expect, I'm trying to monitor a variety of agencies and entities to gather information that might be pertinent to businesses and industries in Toccoa-Stephens County. Tomorrow morning I will be on a call with a federal team of experts to discuss the COVID-19 crisis. This call will provide updates on a variety of topics related to COVID-19, including an overview of stimulus packages to date, health, hospitals, agriculture, SBA specifics and a Republican/ Democrat perspective on future stimulus packages. If you have any questions for this team of experts, please email them to me by close of business today. I'll submit them and hopefully get an answer which I'll share with you.

 

3. Reopening Costs Add Up

Reopening plans continue to take shape across the country — whether it’s on a statewide basis or at an individual-company level (Starbucks).

What’s unquestioned is that reopenings will be costly. Businesses will need to undergo deep and daily cleanings, which won't be a minimal expense. Companies will have to ask what their post-pandemic business will look like from a financial perspective and what capital will be needed to reopen despite revenue not matching expenses. 

4. Also in the Headlines:

• Labor and employment lawyers from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner in St. Louis outlined in a teleconference for clients 12 things to know and do when reopening your workplace.

• A consultant and venture-investment business executive says to forget the “new normal” everyone is talking about. Instead, Jonathan Aberman of Amplifier Ventures writes, “We need to accept that we live in the What’s Next Economy.”

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of eighty-eight (88) confirmed positive cases and one (1) reported death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 612
Positive Results: 66
Negative Results: 502

Pending Results: 44

 

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 192
Positive Results: 26
Negative Results: 148

Pending Results: 18

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

COVID-19 Update - 5/5

1. Business Impact of COVID-19 Toccoa-Stephens County

Everyone is scrambling to manage their business in response to COVID-19. All of us are overwhelmed with a flood of information that can change quickly.  Numbers are critically important to tell the collective story of the COVID-19 virus impact on our local business community. Our numbers help detail the reality for decision makers. Leaders locally, regionally, and nationally are acting on assumptions. With your help, we can give them real numbers.
Take the Survey Now.

As a business executive, we would very much appreciate your input. It will take about seven (7) minutes to complete the survey. Your responses are absolutely confidential. Responses will only be reported in aggregate. The aggregate results of this survey will be used to inform local and state elected officials, government agencies, and others of the economic and human impact of the COVID-19 virus here. This survey will be open until Wednesday, May 6, 2020 and then will be conducted again in a couple of weeks as things are changing quickly. Thank you for your support!
Take the Survey Now.

 

2. A “Now, Next, Later” Approach for Dealing with Pandemic Challenges

The coronavirus pandemic is driving companies to focus on near-term survival and long-term supply chain changes. 

Read the whole Area Development magazine story here.


3. List of Georgia PPE Suppliers Now Available
Many Georgia companies have joined the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by providing critical health care supplies to those on the front lines of this fight: health care workers, first responders and law enforcement, food service industry employees, logistics workers, and reopening small businesses. The Georgia Department of Economic Development has assembled this list of providers and is making it accessible to the public. To view the latest version of the Georgia Suppliers List, click here.

4. Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton Extends Judicial State of Emergency to June 12

I know this is not specifically manufacturing related, but it does give a sense of what is going on in the mind of others as we try to come out of the various shut down orders. Chief Justice Harold Melton announced yesterday he will extend the Statewide Judicial Emergency through June 12, 2020.  Under the new extension order, all criminal and jury trials will continue to be suspended and courts will be barred from summoning and impaneling new trial and grand juries. The Supreme Court of Georgia also provided references related to the operations of courts during the pandemic.

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of eighty-eight (88) confirmed positive cases and one (1) reported death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 569
Positive Results: 64
Negative Results: 477

Pending Results: 28

 

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 189
Positive Results: 26
Negative Results: 148

Pending Results: 15

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics. I have even posted all these daily Stephens County Updates to that webpage. If you need access to any previous update, embedded link, or attached document go to: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources

COVID-19 Update - 5/4

1. Business Impact of COVID-19 Toccoa-Stephens County

Everyone is scrambling to manage their business in response to COVID-19. All of us are overwhelmed with a flood of information that can change quickly.  Numbers are critically important to tell the collective story of the COVID-19 virus impact on our local business community. Our numbers help detail the reality for decision makers. Leaders locally, regionally, and nationally are acting on assumptions. With your help, we can give them real numbers.
Take the Survey Now.

As a business executive, we would very much appreciate your input. It will take about seven (7) minutes to complete the survey. Your responses are absolutely confidential. Responses will only be reported in aggregate. The aggregate results of this survey will be used to inform local and state elected officials, government agencies, and others of the economic and human impact of the COVID-19 virus here. This survey will be open until Wednesday, May 6, 2020 and then will be conducted again in a couple of weeks as things are changing quickly. Thank you for your support!
Take the Survey Now.

 

2.  What Manufacturers are Saying – and Doing

IndustryWeek conducted a survey to collect specific tactics and practices manufacturing leadership is using to maintain safety and productivity. Here is what they discovered.

 

3. It's Time to Myth-Bust Some Coronavirus Talking Points

If there’s anything that spreads even faster than the coronavirus, it's bad information. Here is a series of true or false questions divided by category.
Click on the boxes to reveal the answers.

4. Georgians Urged to Wear Face Coverings to Fight COVID-19

Governor Brian Kemp and Dr. Kathleen Toomey issued a press release last Friday urging Georgians to wear a face covering in public settings, practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

5. Helping with Seniors' Mental Health

This is the most helpful page on the subject of the mental health of our senior citizens that I've seen.

 

6. What Businesses Need to Know about COVID-19 Posters

Do you need some artful posters in English and Spanish to hang in your break rooms or team meeting areas? Please find them attached. 

 

6. More COVID-19 Posters

And speaking of posters, Canon Copiers and local Canon dealer Duplicating Products have developed seven COVID-19 posters: Avoid Close Contact; Clean and Disinfect; Clean Your Hands Often; Cover Coughs; Prevent the Spread; Stay Home; and Wear a Facemask. Here is a link to a Dropbox with the PDF files.

 

7. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of eighty-seven (87) confirmed positive cases and one (1) reported death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 515
Positive Results: 61
Negative Results: 428

Pending Results: 26

 

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 174
Positive Results: 26
Negative Results: 123

Pending Results: 25

 

8. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics. I have even posted all these daily Stephens County Updates to that webpage. If you need access to any previous update, embedded link, or attached document go to: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources


If you’re reading this because someone forwarded it to you, welcome! Send me your email address and I'll send it directly to you so you can stay one step ahead in this unprecedented time.

COVID-19 Update - 5/1

1. Statewide Shelter-In-Place Order Expired Last Night at Midnight

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced April 30 that the state’s shelter-in-place order for most Georgians will expire April 30, 2020 at midnight, although he is urging residents to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Businesses able to reopen will be required to follow safety guidelines, including social distancing and sanitization rules through May 13, 2020 to keep customers and employees safe. Those rules vary by business type for a measured, health-driven approach.

Additionally, he has formally extended the Public Health State of Emergency through June 12, 2020 to continue enhanced testing across Georgia, ramp up contact tracing, and maintain effective emergency response operations in every region of the state.

image.png

 

2. Business Impact of COVID-19 Toccoa-Stephens County

Everyone is scrambling to manage their business in response to COVID-19. All of us are overwhelmed with a flood of information that can change quickly.  Numbers are critically important to tell the collective story of the COVID-19 virus impact on our local business community. Our numbers help detail the reality for decision makers. Leaders locally, regionally, and nationally are acting on assumptions. With your help, we can give them real numbers.
Take the Survey Now.

As a business executive, we would very much appreciate your input. It will take about seven (7) minutes to complete the survey. Your responses are absolutely confidential. Responses will only be reported in aggregate. The aggregate results of this survey will be used to inform local and state elected officials, government agencies, and others of the economic and human impact of the COVID-19 virus here. This survey will be open until Wednesday, May 6, 2020 and then will be conducted again in a couple of weeks as things are changing quickly. Thank you for your support!
Take the Survey Now.

 

3. Return to Business and Post-Pandemic Checklist

Getting started with your return-to-business plan involves a comprehensive understanding of your business and how it fits into the new legal landscape. The foundation of a successful plan contemplates the people involved (both your workforce and the leaders of your business functions from HR to communications), the place of work (including health and safety and continuing requirements around social distancing), and elements of business (such as stimulus, taxes, insurance and more). This checklist provides a roadmap to navigating those issues, with three overarching themes:

Past experience should inform future decisions. Tackling the shutdown and reacting to the pandemic was brand new for all of us, but it also gave us tools to prepare for the nation’s reopening—leveraging lessons learned during the pandemic will position you for a smoother transition back to work.
Plan, plan, then plan again. Guidance is constantly changing (as are local, state, and national directives), so implement appropriate social distancing and health and safety measures now, but stay flexible, knowing that you will need to revisit and retweak your return to work plan many times over the coming days, weeks, and months.
This is a NEW normal. Return to business is not a return to normal—and may never be. How has the pandemic impacted your business goals, and what is the impact of that on who you want to return to work and when?

This planning checklist covers the following topics:
Selecting Employees to Return to Work        
Finding Your Workplace’s New Normal  
What Logistical Concerns Must Be Addressed Before Bringing Your People Back?
When an Employee says “No”: Refusals to Return to Work and Requests to Continue Telework  
Benefits and Executive Compensation
Customers, Vendors, and Visitors            
Planning for Future Outbreaks  
Physical Space Coordination      
Social Distancing At Work            
Business Travel
Keeping Clean and Safe: OSHA and Beyond        
Covering Up: PPE            
What to Do When OSHA, the Police, or a Public Health Official Stops By
Economic Stimulus Loan and Forgiveness Programs        
Taxes, Including Credits and Deferrals    
Insurance Policies and Claims    
Contracts, Including Supply Chain and Vendor Commitments      
Credit and Liquidity        
Corporate Governance
Workouts and Distressed Situations      

 

Seyfarth Shaw LLP is an international law firm with more than 900 lawyers across 16 offices. Seyfarth provides advisory, litigation, and transactional legal services to clients worldwide.

 

4. Georgia Suppliers of Critical Items to Fight COVID-19

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) has collected information from Georgia companies that are producing essential medical supplies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The product information and addresses were submitted by private companies to GDEcD, and this list does not constitute an endorsement of any particular company or product by the State or by GDEcD. GDEcD does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy of this information, or as to the quality or quantity of the products offered by these companies. Buyers are encouraged to contact the companies directly, for product specifications, delivery options, and other information required for executing a purchase. Here is the link to the Georgia PPE suppliers list.

5. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of seventy-nine (79) confirmed positive cases and one (1) reported death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 476
Positive Results: 56
Negative Results: 385

Pending Results: 35

 

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 167
Positive Results: 26
Negative Results: 118

Pending Results: 23

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/30

1. Advice for Business Restarts
If you’re thinking about reopening your business, the following resources could be worth a look:
From the EEOC: What you should know about Covid-19 and the ADA, Rehabilitation Act and other EEO laws.
From maintenance and disaster-response professionals: Best practices to keep workplaces clean and sanitized.
From attorneys: What employers should know about testing for coronavirus.

 

2. Preparing for the Post-COVID-19 Pandemic Maintenance Operations “Thaw” Webinar by IndustryWeek

Join this webinar to help tackle questions like: What have you learned from operating during COVID-19? What do your short-, mid- and long-term plans in the aftermath look like? What can you do to set yourself up for a successful transition to the “new normal”? IndustryWeek will share tools you can implement now to report on and analyze your work, improve operations to maximize staff efficiency and optimize workflow.
Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Time: 2:00 p.m. EDT
Duration: 1 Hour
Event Type: Live Webinar
Cost: Free  

 

3. Federal Coronavirus Relief Action

U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler's Office has prepared a summary of the CARES Act and various other federal programs. Here is a link to that website. Additionally, Field Representative Davis Warnell welcomes questions and comments. He may be reached at Davis_Warnell@loeffler.senate.gov or 706-834-2322.


4. The April 2020 Safety Theme Flyer 

This month's safety flyer is entitled Home Safety for Today and Every Day. Please find it attached to this email.

 

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of seventy-three (73) confirmed positive cases and one reported death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 472
Positive Results: 54
Negative Results: 333

Pending Results: 85

 

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 157
Positive Results: 24
Negative Results: 105

Pending Results: 28

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/29

1. Stephens County Hospital Drive Thru Testing Site

A drive thru testing site will open today on the Stephens County Hospital (SCH) campus. A doctor's order will be required for testing to be performed. Individuals will be tested in their car, and they should plan to bring a photo ID and insurance card. There will be no copays collected and the hospital will not balance bill any patient. SCH will file insurance for those that have it, but insurance is not required to be tested. SCH will test anyone with a physician's order and is hoping to be able to provide better access to testing in this community especially to those who may not be able to travel to Hall County which is the closest state run testing site. 

 

SCH is planning to host drive thru testing from 9 am to 3 pm, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday weather permitting. They plan to do this for a couple of weeks then reassess the need at that point. Hours and days may be adjusted depending on the need identified.


Results are back anywhere from 24 to 72 hours. Most of the time they are getting them in 24 to 36 hours. They are using an outside lab and turn around times are dependent on their volumes. If there are any questions or concerns please don't hesitate to reach out to Carmen Kisner, the Director of Infection Control at carmen.kisner@stephenscountyhospital.com, or 706-282-4497. She will be helping with testing today and Friday so her availability will be limited. 

 

2. Georgia Logistics Market Snapshot
The Georgia Centers of Innovation (COI) are the state’s leading resource for facilitating business innovation. Through the assistance of the five centers (Aerospace, Energy Technology, Information Technology, Logistics, and Manufacturing), Georgia companies translate new ideas and technologies into commercially viable products and services to better compete in the global marketplace. The Center for Logistics prepares a monthly snapshot that includes data for the U.S. MARKET: Gross Domestic Product, U.S. Trade Deficit, Import Volumes, Import & Export Price Index, Unemployment Rate, Labor Force Participation Rate, Leading Economic Index, Housing Starts, Light Vehicle Sales, Personal Income, Retail Sales, E-Commerce, Consumer Confidence, Consumer & Producer Price Index, Small Business Optimism Index, Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization, Manufacturing & Trade Sales, Manufacturing & Trade Inventory, Purchasing Managers Index, Purchasing Managers Index in the Southeast, and U.S. Market News MULTIMODAL: Dow Jones Transportation Index, NASDAQ Transportation Index, DOT Freight Transportation Service Index, Cass Freight Index, Shippers Conditions Index, North American Transborder Freight, and Multimodal News Clips RAIL: U.S. Freight Rail Traffic, U.S. Intermodal Rail Traffic, Railroad Fuel Price Index, Class 1 Railroad Employment, and Railroad News Clips TRUCKING: Truck Tonnage Index, Truckload Freight, Refrigerated Trucking, Trucking Conditions Index, Diesel Prices, Trucking Employment, Trucking Earnings and Hours, U.S. Truck & Trailer Orders (Class 8), and Trucking News Clip AIR FREIGHT: Air Cargo Traffic, Air Freight Price Index, Jet Fuel Prices, and Air Freight News Clips OCEAN FREIGHT: Import Volumes by Ocean, Shanghai Containerized Freight Index, Port of Savannah, Port of Brunswick, and Ocean Freight Business News WAREHOUSING & DISTRIBUTION: Industrial Vacancy, Warehouse Rent Rates, Industrial Absorption, Warehouse Employment, Warehouse Earnings and Hours, and W&D Business News. I have linked here to the April 2020 report. If you like it, you can subscribe to it for free.

 

3. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of seventy-three (73) confirmed positive cases and one reported death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 240
Positive Results: 28
Negative Results: 149

Pending Results: 63

 

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 113
Positive Results: 18
Negative Results: 86

Pending Results: 9

 

4. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/28

1. Remarks from Governor Kemp’s April 27, 2020 Press Conference

If you missed Governor Kemp’s press conference yesterday, the remarks are now available here.

2. Georgia Department of Public Health Launches New Dashboard

The Georgia Department of Public Health has released a new dashboard to track COVID-19.   The testing data on the dashboard will continue to be updated twice daily. You can view the dashboard here. I share the local Stephens County numbers in this email below.

3. COVID-19 Resources and Links

Here's a compilation of federal government resources and links for small and midsized businesses, from emergency financial relief to counseling services as published in the New York Business Journal. Let me know if you have any trouble accessing this article. I'll send you a pdf copy of the article.

 

4. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of seventy-three (73) confirmed positive cases and one reported death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 405
Positive Results: 46
Negative Results: 297

Pending Results: 46

 

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 139
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 104

Pending Results: 14

 

5. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/27

1. Minimum Basic Operations to Reopen Georgia for Business image.png


2. Are You Compliant with COVID-19 Leave Laws?
April 1 is the deadline for implementing federal requirements.

Here is an article from employment attorneys that covers the details, but you will want to discuss with your own advisors.

3. What Will Manufacturing’s New Normal Be After COVID-19?
History teaches us that short-term measures taken in response to global crises lead to changes that last for decades. The COVID-19 pandemic has already accelerated a number of consumer trends like online learning, working from home, streaming services, video communication and consumer goods and service deliveries—in what some are calling the “shut-in economy.” Once a critical mass of consumers get used to these behaviors, they will likely remain embedded in our daily lives for years to come. Check out this article from IndustryWeek.

4. Need A Free Robot to Clean During COVID-19 ?
Brain Corp has launched a $1.6 million robot relief program to support essential businesses. Learn more here. Companies can apply for the robots using this application form.

5. Recovery Readiness: A How-to Guide for Reopening Your Workplace

The attached comprehensive 34-page guide from Cushman & Wakefield, a global commercial real estate services firm, offers some great advice.

6. Stephens County Update The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of seventy (70) positive cases and one death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics. Tests Completed: 266
Positive Results: 31
Negative Results: 204 Pending Results: 31 NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics Tests Completed: 125
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 101 Pending Results: 3

7. Live Hope Give Hope During the COVID-19 Here attached are some suggestions for how to be a good neighbor, encourage others, and serve your community during the coronavirus quarantine. There is so much you can do from home!

8. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz.

COVID-19 Update - 4/24

1. Georgia Governor Relaxes Shelter-in-Place Order

Since the Shelter-in-Place order is being eased, I thought it would be good to encourage everyone to use the OSHA “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” as a guide for reopening (and staying open). Below are some of the top-level guidelines to follow. The complete list of guidelines is available here.

Temperature Checks, Screening Questions (Such as: Have you had a cough? Have you had a fever? Have you been around anyone exhibiting these symptoms within the past 14 days? Are you living with anyone who is sick or quarantined?), Limit Number of Visitors, Maintain Social Distancing, Use of Personal Protective Equipment & Best Practices, and Disinfection.

 

2. Webinar - Georgia Returning to Work

Below is a link to a free webinar from the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership at Georgia Tech with excellent information on how to return to work safely, efficiently, and profitably.

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/904706061540673795

The GaMEP website:www.gamep.org/coronavirus has additional information and resources. Here also is the contact information for the webinar presenters:

Ed Oneal- ed.oneal@mau.com

Lindsay Stevens- lindsay.stevens@mau.com

Tradd Rodgers- tradd.rodgers@mau.com

3. Here’s what you need to know about PPP loan forgiveness
What likely attracted so many business owners to the Paycheck Protection Program is the high margin of forgivability IF they spend the funds the way the program wants, being that at least 75% of the loan is spent on payroll costs. The other 25% can be used for mortgage, utilities and other overhead costs. It cannot be used as a substitute for revenue.
To receive forgiveness on the loan, the business owner will need to apply through a lender. But even if the business owner were to spend 100% of the loan on payroll, something could still go wrong with submitting the required documentation to receive forgiveness, according to Thomas Rutledge, member at the law firm Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC.

Here are Rutledge’s recommendations for making sure small business owners qualify for loan forgiveness in eight weeks:
Start gathering documents now. The date a business owner receives PPP funds is the beginning of the eight week period by which the loan will be judged for forgiveness.
Be aware of the use of funds. Make sure that the use of funds is permissible and accounts for how much was spent, as well as when and why.
Track your employment. Companies that see a reduction in workforce during the eight-week period will need to account for that, which could impact the loan’s forgiveness.

There's more advice here.

 

4. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of forty-eight (48) positive cases and one death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 240
Positive Results: 28
Negative Results: 149

Pending Results: 63

 

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 113
Positive Results: 18
Negative Results: 86

Pending Results: 9

 

5. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/23

1. Overview of the Requirements of Governor Kemp’s Shelter in Place Executive Order

Here is an overview of the requirements of Governor Brian Kemp’s Shelter in Place Executive Orders. For the most part, recipients of this daily update from SCDA are Essential Industries or provide essential products/services, but this information is good to know: Shelter in Place Requirements.

 

2. Masks Available from Lanier Clothes

Lanier Clothes has produced cotton masks for one of its retail customers and has extras to sell if any of you need masks for your employees. There are 2 masks per pack at $3.00/ pack, Minimum 10 packs. Please let Lisa Mote, Account Executive, 706-491-5716, lmote@lanierclothes.com know if you have any questions.

 

3. County to Use Drop-off Ballot Box for June 9, 2020 Primary Election

The Stephens County Elections Office has chosen to utilize a drop-off box for absentee ballots during the primary election scheduled for June 9, 2020. County elections superintendent Eureka Gober said the box will be similar to post office drop-off boxes but designed to indicate it is for the election. Gober said there will be just one drop-off box for the absentee ballots and that it will be located outside near the Government Building in downtown Toccoa because there are security cameras set up there that can monitor it. She said the security cameras are required for any drop-off boxes. Gober said that requests for absentee ballots have increased and the elections office is expecting more than 300 absentee ballots for the June 9 primary whereas the typical amount is some 80-85 absentees. She said that the absentee ballot mailings were scheduled to begin Wednesday, April 22. Residents must register by May 11 to vote in the primary elections. Early voting runs from May 18 through June 5, Monday-Friday, with one mandatory Saturday on May 30. The date of the election primary has been twice delayed by the secretary of state's office due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

 

4. 2020 Election Town Hall Forum

Due to the Shelter in Place order issued by Governor Kemp on March 23, 2020, public events such as the Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Candidate Town Hall Forum cannot be held in person. However, the Chamber is working with WNEG and The Toccoa Record to provide citizens a way to ask questions of the various candidates ahead of the June 9, 2020 elections. 

 

Because the Chamber is committed to making sure citizens in Stephens County know the candidates and what they stand for, they are soliciting questions for the candidates to be submitted to julie@visittoccoa.com. Questions should be directed toward the elected position, rather than the individual candidate, as each question will be posed to all of the candidates for that particular race. As a reminder, there are several races on the ballot, but only two that have opposition: the Sheriff and State Senate District 50 (John Wilkinson’s former seat).  

 

Responses to each question will be broadcast on WNEG and published in The Toccoa Record. Let your voice be heard! Submit your questions today. Deadline for receipt is Friday, May 1, 2020.

 

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of forty-two (41) positive cases and one death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 175
Positive Results: 24
Negative Results: 135

Pending Results: 16

 

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 102
Positive Results: 17
Negative Results: 75

Pending Results: 10

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/22

1. Senate Passes Supplemental Funding Bill for PPP, Small Business Relief

The U.S. Senate has approved legislation providing much-needed funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a tapped out employment retention incentive established in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, along with additional financial support for small businesses, hospitals and testing. After an initial run of $349 billion, this new bill will provide another $310 billion for applying, eligible PPP businesses. To ensure businesses without previous banking relationships, such as nail salons and small restaurants, are able to capture the program funding, the bill earmarks $60 billion of the funding for those companies.
 
In addition to the PPP funding, the new legislation will also provide funding for the following support and relief efforts:
$60 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loan program
$75 billion for hospitals
$25 billion for expanded testing efforts

Initial efforts by lawmakers for increased food assistance program support and funding for State and Local governments did not make the final legislation approved by the Senate.

The bill will now head over to the House of Representatives, which are expected to approve by recorded vote on Thursday. That official session is also expected to see the House vote to change chamber rules allowing for remote voting on legislation related to coronavirus relief. Once approved by the House, the legislation is expected to be signed by President Trump.

For additional information on these programs, along with economic recovery efforts ongoing around the world, visit the clearinghouse website:HickeyandAssociates.com/IncentivesSummary

 

2. Updated Summary of Shelter in Place Executive Order

The Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) has updated its summary of Governor Kemp’s Executive Order to include this week's easing of the restrictions. You can find the current version here.  

3. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber COVID-19 Business Survey

If you have a few minutes, we'd love for you to reply to this survey: Toccoa-Stephens County Business Survey

 

4. Georgia Company Now Manufacturing Face Shields

Carmen Kisner, the Director of Infection Control at the Stephens County Hospital shared this information with me. A company in Norcross, Georgia has shifted their normal operations to manufacture face shields with two goals in mind:

#1 - Donate to those in need in our local community to help fight the COVID-19 virus.

#2 - What can we do to keep our staff of 180 employed and focused on our company mission “to inspire servant leaders to uplift their communities”

Here is a video that our Gasket Guy brand developed to share with its network of Gasket Guys.  WATCH OUR VIDEO HERE

Their goal is to manufacture over 200,000 face shields before the end of May.  

  1. We are looking to donate face shields to anyone that is on the front line who is in need or cannot financially afford to protect themselves or their team here in our community.

  2. We know many people are trying to keep the economy running but need to remain safe.  For those companies that are looking to purchase face shields, we can supply these face shields for $4 or less a shield.  Our minimum order qty is 12 and we sell them in packages of 12 and 48. Every dollar spent supports our team and also allows us to donate more face shields.

 If you know anyone that may need face shields or safety barriers please forward them this email or have them reach out to me Dave Brautigan via email dave@mixtapeventures.com  or my cell at 404-886-5628.  

I have included below some info and pictures of what we are doing.  

  • Our disposable face shields are approximately 13” x 8“  

  • We use antimicrobial foam

  • We sourced all the materials in the USA

  • They are all manufactured in Norcross, GA

  • We package them in quantities of 12 or 48

  • We typically fulfill orders in less than 3 days

A little more about MixTape Ventures  

We operate a group of companies that look long term and have a mission to inspire servant leaders to uplift their communities. Many of our companies are focused on the food service industry, specifically refrigeration gaskets and cutting boards.  We also own a small college restaurant and a company that produces personalized soaps, candles, and other engravable gifts. You know us by many different names, but we all have the same core values and mission. We have been headquartered in Norcross, GA for the last 20 years.

Below are a few of our brands.  If you are in need of anything they have to offer please support them as the revenue generated supports our team and our ability to make these face shield donations.

CoolerGaskets.com - refrigeration gaskets

Gasket Guy - Our network of 100+ locally owned gasket installers

CuttingBoard.com - The website for everything cutting boards (wood, plastic, serving trays, etc)

Carved Solutions - Recently featured by Oprah and Good Morning America, they make personalized soaps, candles, and cutting boards

Rocky Mountain Pizza  - Great pizza located in Atlanta, GA  - we can be found on Uber Eats, Door Dash, Zifty, Grub Hub, and Post Mates.

Restaurant Dynamics - If you have a facility that needs refrigeration equipment fixed, they’ve got you covered.

 We also have partitions and other products that can help encourage distancing and keep people safe at https://www.cuttingboardcompany.com/personal-protection-equipment/
 Thanks and be safe and stay positive!

Dave Brautigan

CEO

 

 

Cell: 404.886.5628

Office: 678.636.2500

Fax: 678.636.2516

dave@mixtapeventures.com

2578 Old Rockbridge Road

Norcross, Georgia USA 30071

 

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of forty-one (41) positive cases and one death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 165
Positive Results: 22
Negative Results: 126

Pending Results: 17

 

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 102
Positive Results: 17
Negative Results: 77

Pending Results: 8

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/21

1. Georgia Governor Kemp to ease some of the Shelter in Place restrictions starting April 24

Gov. Brian Kemp will lift some of the restrictions he put in place earlier this month to combat the spread of the coronavirus, saying that his shelter-in-place order and social distancing measures were starting to slow the outbreak. (Read the Atlanta Journal Constitution story here.)

 

You can read the Governor’s remarks here and view the Executive Order he signed here.  You can also find President Trump’s Guidelines for Reopening America here.

Included in the Executive Order:

Medical practices, dental practices, orthodontics practices, optometry practices, physical therapists, ambulatory surgical centers, physicians performing elective surgeries, healthcare institutions, medical facilities and any and all other healthcare-related practices and services that have ceased operations should begin treating patients in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service guidelines and provisions of the Executive Order.

April 24 – All gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, estheticians, hair designers, massage therapists may begin in-person Minimum Basic Operations as defined by the Executive Order.

April 27 - Subject to social distancing and sanitation mandates, theaters, private social clubs and restaurant dine-in services will be allowed to reopen.
Bars, nightclubs, operators of amusement park rides and live performance venues will remain closed.


The Shelter in Place Order is still active and will expire on April 30 at 11:59 p.m.
Medically fragile and elderly Georgians should shelter in place at least through May 13.


For places of worship, holding in-person services is allowed, but under Phase One guidelines, it must be done in accordance with strict social distance protocols.

 

2. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber COVID-19 Business Survey

If you have a few minutes, we'd love for you to reply to this survey: http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07eh1frl2dk930itu9/a008k937ix8p/questions

 

3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Assistance

AVITA Community Partners and HOPE for a Drug Free Stephens Collaborative are partnering to bring HOPE to parents & families dealing with drug addiction & recovery of loved ones through online support group sessions that will begin on April 28, 2020. Please see the Flyer/Ad that was in yesterday's Toccoa Record as well as on WNEG radio. Call Jon Kerr for more information at (678)371-3445 or email jonathan.kerr@avitapartners.org.

 

4. COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Hub
Psych Hub (https://psychhub.com/) is providing tools and resources to help manage potential stress and anxiety resulting from COVID-19. This hub brings together a variety of resources to help cope with social isolation, job loss and other mental health issues people may be facing.


With options for every audience, Psych Hub has the world's largest online platform of digital education on mental health issues. Psych Hub’s free micro-video library hosts over 100 consumer-facing, animated videos focused on improving mental health literacy and reducing stigma about seeking care.

 

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of forty (40) positive cases and one death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 151
Positive Results: 22
Negative Results: 126

Pending Results: 3

 

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 95
Positive Results: 16
Negative Results: 72

Pending Results: 7

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/20

1. GDOL Update on Federal Stimulus Bill-FPUC and PUA
The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) is updating its current systems to distribute federal unemployment funds as part of the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) bringing economic relief to many Georgians.

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, or FPUC, provides an additional $600 weekly payment to any individual eligible for any of the Unemployment Compensation programs - State and Federal. The GDOL began distributing this additional payment to those currently receiving state unemployment benefits last week. This supplement is an additional payment to regular weekly state unemployment benefits and includes all eligible weeks beginning with the week ending 4/4/2020. Your payment may not be $600 weekly if you have elected to have state and federal taxes deducted. Federal taxes are deducted at 10% and state taxes at 6%. Unemployment benefits are taxable income. Other deductions may include court ordered or voluntary child support or repayment of an UI overpayment (one-half of your $600 FPUC payment will be deducted and applied to your outstanding overpayment).
 
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA, is the program that will provide unemployment benefits to those not ordinarily eligible for them. This includes individuals who are self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, employees of churches, employees of non-profits, or those with limited work history who do not qualify for state unemployment benefits. The GDOL has modified its current online unemployment application adding new questions to better identify those individuals who may be eligible for PUA. These individuals must be determined not to be eligible to receive state benefits before being evaluated for federal PUA benefits.

The first step is for the individual to file a regular state unemployment claim application, where you will be asked questions about your employment and wages for the last 18 months.  The application for regular state unemployment benefits will be reviewed by GDOL and a written determination of eligibility will be released within 21 days.

The new federal PUA program is still under development and must be built from scratch to allow verification of wages. Once the programming is completed, individuals determined to not be eligible to be paid traditional state benefits will receive an email with instructions for filing a PUA application. The GDOL has partnered with the Georgia Department of Revenue to help verify wages, subject to approval from the applicant. Emails should begin to go out to applicants potentially eligible for PUA on April 22, 2020.

Once the PUA application is received, it will be reviewed for eligibility and a written determination will be released with appeal rights. See detailed instructions on PUA.  

Individuals who have already filed a claim with the GDOL and determined not eligible for state unemployment benefits and may be potentially eligible to receive benefits under this program, do NOT have to refile a regular state claim. Once development of the new federal PUA program is completed, these individuals will be identified and will receive notification by email with a link to the application or mail containing information regarding the PUA application process.

The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, or PEUC, allows for up to an additional 13 weeks of benefits added to the end of regular unemployment benefits. This means claimants may collect unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than under normal circumstances. The GDOL recently received the guidelines on PEUC from the USDOL and is working quickly to develop and implement the new PEUC system. Individuals potentially eligible for this program will be identified and sent notification with PEUC claim filing instructions.

2. Ease Your Children's Anxiety

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Communications wants you to have resources to help talk to your children about COVID-19. There are positive steps you can take to address their COVID-19 worries. Additional mental health and emotional support resources are also available to you and your loved ones.

3. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber COVID-19 Business Survey

If you have a few minutes, we'd love for you to reply to this survey: http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07eh1frl2dk930itu9/a008k937ix8p/questions

 

4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Assistance

AVITA Community Partners and HOPE for a Drug Free Stephens Collaborative are partnering to bring HOPE to parents & families dealing with drug addiction & recovery of loved ones through online support group sessions that will begin on April 28, 2020. Please see the Flyer/Ad that was in yesterday's Toccoa Record as well as on WNEG radio. Call Jon Kerr for more information at (678)371-3445 or email jonathan.kerr@avitapartners.org.

 

5. COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Hub
Psych Hub (https://psychhub.com/) is providing tools and resources to help manage potential stress and anxiety resulting from COVID-19. This hub brings together a variety of resources to help cope with social isolation, job loss and other mental health issues people may be facing.


With options for every audience, Psych Hub has the world's largest online platform of digital education on mental health issues. Psych Hub’s free micro-video library hosts over 100 consumer-facing, animated videos focused on improving mental health literacy and reducing stigma about seeking care.

 

6. Overview of the Requirements of Governor Kemp’s Shelter in Place Executive Order

Here is an overview of the requirements of Governor Brian Kemp’s Shelter in Place Executive Orders. For the most part, recipients of this daily update from SCDA are Essential Industries or provide essential products/services, but this information is good to know: Shelter in Place Requirements.

7. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of thirty-five (35) positive cases and one (1) death for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 127
Positive Results: 14
Negative Results: 102

Pending Results: 11

 

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 86
Positive Results: 11
Negative Results: 62

Pending Results: 13

 

8. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/17

1. Guidelines for Opening Up America Again.

President Trump has unveiled Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, a three-phased approach based on the advice of public health experts. These steps will help state and local officials when reopening their economies, getting people back to work, and continuing to protect American lives. It has specific guidelines for employers. Here's the link to the advice: https://www.whitehouse.gov/openingamerica/

 

2. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber COVID-19 Business Survey

If you have 5-7 minutes, we'd love for you to reply to this survey: http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07eh1frl2dk930itu9/a008k937ix8p/questions

 

3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Assistance

AVITA Community Partners and HOPE for a Drug Free Stephens Collaborative are partnering to bring HOPE to parents & families dealing with drug addiction & recovery of loved ones through online support group sessions that will begin on April 28, 2020. Please see the Flyer/Ad that was in yesterday's Toccoa Record as well as on WNEG radio. Call Jon Kerr for more information at (678)371-3445 or email jonathan.kerr@avitapartners.org.

 

4. COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Hub
Psych Hub (https://psychhub.com/) is providing tools and resources to help manage potential stress and anxiety resulting from COVID-19. This hub brings together a variety of resources to help cope with social isolation, job loss and other mental health issues people may be facing.


With options for every audience, Psych Hub has the world's largest online platform of digital education on mental health issues. Psych Hub’s free micro-video library hosts over 100 consumer-facing, animated videos focused on improving mental health literacy and reducing stigma about seeking care.

 

5. Overview of the Requirements of Governor Kemp’s Shelter in Place Executive Order

Here is an overview of the requirements of Governor Brian Kemp’s Shelter in Place Executive Orders. For the most part, recipients of this daily update from SCDA are Essential Industries or provide essential products/services, but this information is good to know: Shelter in Place Requirements.

6. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of twenty-eight (28) positive cases for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 116
Positive Results: 11
Negative Results: 91

Pending Results: 14

 

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics

Tests Completed: 69
Positive Results: 10
Negative Results: 57

Pending Results: 2

 

7. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/16

1. Keeping Stephens Strong Together

This is the name of the Toccoa-Stephens County COVID-19 Resource page. In addition to links to many federal and state agencies and programs, it has links to local Financial & Insurance Institutions, Restaurants for Takeout/Delivery/Curbside service, Pharmacy & Healthcare, and other local businesses!  Here's the link: https://www.toccoagachamber.com/local-resources.

 

2.Return to Workplace

Management consultants McKinsey & Company have published an article designed to help executives think through the challenges of restarting their businesses.Here are two charts I pulled from the article. 

 

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3. Employee morale 

I asked yesterday for you to send me an email with what you are doing to maintain employee morale in this time of stress and concern. Well, please see the attached picture. Patterson Pump has designed a COVID-19 t-shirt for all of their employees recognizing Essential People Providing Critical Products!

 

4. COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Hub
Psych Hub (https://psychhub.com/) is providing tools and resources to help manage potential stress and anxiety resulting from COVID-19. This hub brings together a variety of resources to help cope with social isolation, job loss and other mental health issues people may be facing.


With options for every audience, Psych Hub has the world's largest online platform of digital education on mental health issues. Psych Hub’s free micro-video library hosts over 100 consumer-facing, animated videos focused on improving mental health literacy and reducing stigma about seeking care.

 

5. June 9, 2020 Is New Date Set for Statewide General Primary/Presidential Primary

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has announced that, pursuant to the authority vested in him by O.C.G.A. § 21-2-50.1, he is postponing the Statewide General Primary/Presidential Preference Primary Election until June 9, 2020. Here is an infographic on how this new date was selected

6. Absentee Voting in Georgia for Statewide General Primary/Presidential Primary

The State of Georgia allows absentee voting by mail and in-person. No excuse is required to vote before election day. Georgia law allows for absentee by mail ballots to be requested up to 180 days before an election. To request an absentee ballot, voters should complete an absentee ballot application and return the absentee ballot application to their county registration office. 

 

Absentee ballot applications can be returned by mail, fax, email (as an attachment), or in-person to the local County Board of Registrar’s Office.

Click here to view a fillable PDF of the Georgia Application for Official Absentee Ballot 

Stephens County Chief Registrar: Eureka Gober, 37 W. Tugalo St., P.O. Box 1557, Toccoa, GA 30577, Telephone: (706) 886-8954, Fax: (706) 886-2185, Email: egober@stephenscountyga.com

7. Responding to the 2020 Census
The time is now. Help shape our future, and our community's future, by responding to and encouraging your employees to respond to the 2020 Census.
Most households received their invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12 – 20. These official Census Bureau mailings will include detailed information and a Census ID for completing the Census online.
In addition to an invitation to respond, some households will receive a paper questionnaire (sometimes known as the census form). You do not need to wait for your paper questionnaire to respond to the Census.
Please complete your form online, by phone, or by mail. Visit my2020census.gov to begin.

8. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of twenty-four (24) positive cases for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 105
Positive Results: 11
Negative Results: 90

Pending Results: 4

 

Toccoa Clinic is also testing

Tests Completed: 90

Positive Results: 10

Negative Results: 80

Pending: 0

 

9. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/15

1. Employee morale 

When you have a minute, send me an email with what you are doing to maintain employee morale in this time of stress and concern. It might be helpful to learn what others are doing to allay fears and offer encouragement.

 

2. Update on Federal Stimulus Bill
The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) is updating its current systems to distribute federal unemployment funds as part of the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) bringing economic relief to many Georgians.
The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, or FPUC, provides an additional $600 weekly payment to any individual eligible for any of the Unemployment Compensation programs - State and Federal. The GDOL will begin sending this additional payment to those currently receiving state unemployment benefits beginning this week. This supplement will be an additional payment to regular weekly state unemployment benefits and will include all eligible weeks beginning with the week ending 4/4/2020. Your payment may not be $600 weekly if you have elected to have state and federal taxes deducted. Federal taxes are deducted at 10% and state taxes at 6%. Unemployment benefits are taxable income. Other deductions may include court ordered or voluntary child support or repayment of an UI overpayment (one-half of your $600 FPUC payment will be deducted and applied to your outstanding overpayment). 
 
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA, is the program that will provide
unemployment benefits to those not ordinarily eligible for them. This includes
individuals who are self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors,
employees of churches, employees of non-profits 501C3s, or those with limited work history who do not qualify for state unemployment benefits. The GDOL has modified its current online unemployment application adding new questions to better identify those individuals who may be eligible for PUA. These individuals must be determined not to be eligible to receive state benefits before being evaluated for federal PUA benefits.


The first step is for the individual to file a regular state unemployment claim
application, where you will be asked questions about your employment and wages for the last 18 months.  The application for regular state unemployment benefits will be reviewed by GDOL and a written determination of eligibility will be released within 21 days.


The new federal PUA program is still under development and must be built from
scratch to allow verification of wages. Once the programming is completed, individuals determined to not be eligible to be paid regular state benefits will receive an email with instructions for filing a PUA application. The GDOL has partnered with the Georgia Department of Revenue to help verify wages, subject to approval from the applicant.

Emails should begin to go out to applicants potentially eligible for PUA on April 22, 2020. Once the PUA application is received, it will be reviewed for eligibility and a written determination will be released with appeal rights. rights. See detailed instructions on PUA.

 

3. Absentee Voting in Georgia for Statewide General Primary/Presidential Primary

The State of Georgia allows absentee voting by mail and in-person. No excuse is required to vote before election day. Georgia law allows for absentee by mail ballots to be requested up to 180 days before an election. To request an absentee ballot, voters should complete an absentee ballot application and return the absentee ballot application to their county registration office. 

 

Absentee ballot applications can be returned by mail, fax, email (as an attachment), or in-person to the local County Board of Registrar’s Office.

Click here to view a fillable PDF of the Georgia Application for Official Absentee Ballot 

Stephens County Chief Registrar: Eureka Gober, 37 W. Tugalo St., P.O. Box 1557, Toccoa, GA 30577, Telephone: (706) 886-8954, Fax: (706) 886-2185, Email: egober@stephenscountyga.com

4. Responding to the 2020 Census
The time is now. Help shape our future, and our community's future, by responding to and encouraging your employees to respond to the 2020 Census.
Most households received their invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12 – 20. These official Census Bureau mailings will include detailed information and a Census ID for completing the Census online.
In addition to an invitation to respond, some households will receive a paper questionnaire (sometimes known as the census form). You do not need to wait for your paper questionnaire to respond to the Census.
Please complete your form online, by phone, or by mail. Visit my2020census.gov to begin.  

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of twenty-four (24) positive cases for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 100
Positive Results: 9

  • 1 Currently Hospitalized at SCH
  • 1 Hospitalized at another facility
  • 2 were originally hospitalized at SCH and have been discharged home and are recovering
  • 4 were never hospitalized

Negative Results: 86

Pending Results: 5

 

6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/14

1. SBDC Seminars re CARES Act

Additional free regional webinars for Georgia small businesses navigating the programs made available through the ‘CARES Act ’will begin on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. These sessions are hosted by the University of Georgia’s 17 Small Business Development Centers, in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Please share the regional webinar schedule with all partners who may benefit from attending.

 

2. The COVID-19 Federal Rural REsource Guide

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today unveiled a one-stop-shop of federal programs that can be used by rural communities, organizations and individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide (PDF, 349 KB) is a first-of-its-kind resource for rural leaders looking for federal funding and partnership opportunities to help address this pandemic.  

 

3. COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Hub
Psych Hub (https://psychhub.com/) is providing tools and resources to help manage potential stress and anxiety resulting from COVID-19. This hub brings together a variety of resources to help cope with social isolation, job loss and other mental health issues people may be facing.


With options for every audience, Psych Hub has the world's largest online platform of digital education on mental health issues. Psych Hub’s free micro-video library hosts over 100 consumer-facing, animated videos focused on improving mental health literacy and reducing stigma about seeking care.

 

4. June 9, 2020 Is New Date Set for Statewide General Primary/Presidential Primary

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has announced that, pursuant to the authority vested in him by O.C.G.A. § 21-2-50.1, he is postponing the Statewide General Primary/Presidential Preference Primary Election until June 9, 2020. Here is an infographic on how this new date was selected

5. Absentee Voting in Georgia for Statewide General Primary/Presidential Primary

The State of Georgia allows absentee voting by mail and in-person. No excuse is required to vote before election day. Georgia law allows for absentee by mail ballots to be requested up to 180 days before an election. To request an absentee ballot, voters should complete an absentee ballot application and return the absentee ballot application to their county registration office. 

 

Absentee ballot applications can be returned by mail, fax, email (as an attachment), or in-person to the local County Board of Registrar’s Office.

Click here to view a fillable PDF of the Georgia Application for Official Absentee Ballot 

Stephens County Chief Registrar: Eureka Gober, 37 W. Tugalo St., P.O. Box 1557, Toccoa, GA 30577, Telephone: (706) 886-8954, Fax: (706) 886-2185, Email: egober@stephenscountyga.com

6. Responding to the 2020 Census
The time is now. Help shape our future, and our community's future, by responding to and encouraging your employees to respond to the 2020 Census.
Most households received their invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12 – 20. These official Census Bureau mailings will include detailed information and a Census ID for completing the Census online.
In addition to an invitation to respond, some households will receive a paper questionnaire (sometimes known as the census form). You do not need to wait for your paper questionnaire to respond to the Census.
Please complete your form online, by phone, or by mail. Visit my2020census.gov to begin.  

7. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of twenty (20) positive cases for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 95
Positive Results: 9

  • 1 Currently Hospitalized at SCH
  • 1 Hospitalized at another facility
  • 2 were originally hospitalized at SCH and have been discharged home and are recovering
  • 4 were never hospitalized

Negative Results: 79

Pending Results: 7

 

8. Reminder - Beware of Phishing Scams

Unfortunately, scammers use this time to try and infect and affect us with their fraudulent schemes. I would advise several things, most all of which you are aware of, but this will be a reminder. Especially if the email asks you to send money, provide credit card data or bank account info, these are telltale signs that the request is fraudulent.
 

A. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is; or something out of the normal course of communications, it is not authentic.

B. Check out the email and see if there are misspellings or incorrect grammar. Many times these emails originate from overseas and don’t have the best grammar and/or spelling.

C. Look at the email address. This particular one does not come from the address that it purports to. You can hover over it and the email will show you the address.

D. Call the person that the email purports to be from to confirm that the email is false.  

Be sure to stay safe and healthy from the Novel Coronavirus, but also from scammers.  

 

9. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 


I'm sending this out earlier in the morning than normal to check in on everyone. How are you this morning? We had widespread power outages overnight, Big A Road, the industries south of town, even the area around the hospital. Power companies and road crews are addressing the issue as promptly as possible. Please let us know how we can help you.

COVID-19 Update - 4/13

1. Considerations for Essential Workers who may have been Exposed to COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have released interim guidance for essential workers who may have been exposed to COVID-19.   This interim guidance especially pertains to law enforcement, 9-1-1 call center employees, fusion center employees, hazardous material responders from the government and the private sector, janitorial staff and other custodial staff and workers in food and agriculture, critical manufacturing, information technology, transportation, energy and government facilities.  

2. COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Hub
Psych Hub (https://psychhub.com/) is providing tools and resources to help manage potential stress and anxiety resulting from COVID-19. This hub brings together a variety of resources to help cope with social isolation, job loss and other mental health issues people may be facing.

With options for every audience, Psych Hub has the world's largest online platform of digital education on mental health issues. Psych Hub’s free micro-video library hosts over 100 consumer-facing, animated videos focused on improving mental health literacy and reducing stigma about seeking care.

 

3. SAFE WORK PLAYBOOK An Interactive Guide for COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness and Response

 The Safe Work Playbook includes practical recommendations, based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization, that could be tailored by businesses to address various scenarios they may face when returning to work. Regular updates will be made to the playbook based on real-time feedback. The manual covers a wide range of topics, including: • Step-by-step guides for setting up a pandemic response team • Cleaning and disinfection procedures • Staggering shifts and lunch breaks and other social distancing strategies • On-site health screening • Protocols for isolating employees who become ill at work.

See Safe Work Playbook pdf attached to this email.

 

4. June 9, 2020 Is New Date Set for Statewide General Primary/Presidential Primary

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has announced that, pursuant to the authority vested in him by O.C.G.A. § 21-2-50.1, he is postponing the Statewide General Primary/Presidential Preference Primary Election until June 9, 2020. Here is an infographic on how this new date was selected

5. Absentee Voting in Georgia for Statewide General Primary/Presidential Primary

The State of Georgia allows absentee voting by mail and in-person. No excuse is required to vote before election day. Georgia law allows for absentee by mail ballots to be requested up to 180 days before an election. To request an absentee ballot, voters should complete an absentee ballot application and return the absentee ballot application to their county registration office. 

 

Absentee ballot applications can be returned by mail, fax, email (as an attachment), or in-person to the local County Board of Registrar’s Office.

Click here to view a fillable PDF of the Georgia Application for Official Absentee Ballot 

Stephens County Chief Registrar: Eureka Gober, 37 W. Tugalo St., P.O. Box 1557, Toccoa, GA 30577, Telephone: (706) 886-8954, Fax: (706) 886-2185, Email: egober@stephenscountyga.com

6. Responding to the 2020 Census
The time is now. Help shape our future, and our community's future, by responding to and encouraging your employees to respond to the 2020 Census.
Most households received their invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12 – 20. These official Census Bureau mailings will include detailed information and a Census ID for completing the Census online.
In addition to an invitation to respond, some households will receive a paper questionnaire (sometimes known as the census form). You do not need to wait for your paper questionnaire to respond to the Census.
Please complete your form online, by phone, or by mail. Visit my2020census.gov to begin.  

7. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of fifteen (15) positive cases for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 87
Positive Results: 8

  • 1 Currently Hospitalized at SCH
  • 1 Hospitalized at another facility
  • 2 were originally hospitalized at SCH and have been discharged home and are recovering
  • 4 were never hospitalized

Negative Results: 75

Pending Results: 4

 

8. Energy Policy Act (EPAct) Section 179D Energy Efficient Commercial Building Deduction

The EPAct 179D is a federal tax deduction up to $1.80/square foot available for buildings with energy efficient Lighting, HVAC and Building Envelope. Since 2005, Congress has made this tax deduction available and in December 2019, congress extended this deduction to December 31, 2020. 

Benefits of 179d:  Up to $1.80/square foot, Lookback to 2005, 20 year carry forward on deduction. Who is eligible for this tax deduction? Building Owners & Commercial Building Lessee. Types of improvements that qualify: Interior Lighting Improvements, HVAC Improvements, & Building Envelope Improvements. Types of buildings that qualify: Retail buildings, Office buildings, Industrial buildings, Manufacturing buildings, Warehouses, & Distribution Centers.

Please call me if you have any questions or want additional information.

9. Recruiting and hiring from afar, done right

You may be about to meet a promising candidate. And yet you can't get within six feet of each other for the interview. Welcome to the new reality of hiring, interviewing, and onboarding in today's social-distancing world. Industry executives shared their insights and suggestions on virtual recruiting, remote interviews and onboarding with The Business Journals. Find out what they said through this digital presentation.

 

10. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/10

1. Georgia Extends Public Health State of Emergency through May 13, 2020.

Governor Brian P. Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, and House Speaker David Ralston have announced plans to extend Georgia’s public health state of emergency through May 13, 2020 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Under state law, the Governor may renew the public health state of emergency, which was otherwise set to expire on April 13, 2020. Lt. Governor Duncan and SpeakerRalston agree it is necessary for the public health emergency to be renewed and will not be requesting a special legislative session, which was tentatively scheduled for April 15, 2020. Read the press release here.  

2. The UGA/SBDC COVID-19 Relief website
At Gov. Brian Kemp’s direction, the University of Georgia, the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs partnered to create a website to provide ongoing information to help small businesses.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on March 27 allocates $349 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid current circumstances. The CARES Act provides funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), modifies the existing Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and provides immediate loan payment relief for current SBA 7(a) borrowers.

More information about each program is provided through the webinars, as well as on the COVID-19 Relief website at. www.georgiasbdc.org/georgia-small-business-recovery.  
 

3. COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Hub
Psych Hub (https://psychhub.com/) is providing tools and resources to help manage potential stress and anxiety resulting from COVID-19. This hub brings together a variety of resources to help cope with social isolation, job loss and other mental health issues people may be facing.


With options for every audience, Psych Hub has the world's largest online platform of digital education on mental health issues. Psych Hub’s free micro-video library hosts over 100 consumer-facing, animated videos focused on improving mental health literacy and reducing stigma about seeking care.

 

4. June 9, 2020 Is New Date Set for Statewide General Primary/Presidential Primary

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has announced that, pursuant to the authority vested in him by O.C.G.A. § 21-2-50.1, he is postponing the Statewide General Primary/Presidential Preference Primary Election until June 9, 2020. Here is an infographic on how this new date was selected

5. Absentee Voting in Georgia for Statewide General Primary/Presidential Primary

The State of Georgia allows absentee voting by mail and in-person. No excuse is required to vote before election day. Georgia law allows for absentee by mail ballots to be requested up to 180 days before an election. To request an absentee ballot, voters should complete an absentee ballot application and return the absentee ballot application to their county registration office. 

 

Absentee ballot applications can be returned by mail, fax, email (as an attachment), or in-person to the local County Board of Registrar’s Office.

Click here to view a fillable PDF of the Georgia Application for Official Absentee Ballot 

Stephens County Chief Registrar: Eureka Gober, 37 W. Tugalo St., P.O. Box 1557, Toccoa, GA 30577, Telephone: (706) 886-8954, Fax: (706) 886-2185, Email: egober@stephenscountyga.com

6. Responding to the 2020 Census
The time is now. Help shape our future, and our community's future, by responding to and encouraging your employees to respond to the 2020 Census.
Most households received their invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12 – 20. These official Census Bureau mailings will include detailed information and a Census ID for completing the Census online.
In addition to an invitation to respond, some households will receive a paper questionnaire (sometimes known as the census form). You do not need to wait for your paper questionnaire to respond to the Census.
Please complete your form online, by phone, or by mail. Visit my2020census.gov to begin.  

7. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of fifteen (15) positive cases for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  

Tests Completed: 87
Positive Results: 8

  • 1 Currently Hospitalized at SCH
  • 1 Hospitalized at another facility
  • 2 were originally hospitalized at SCH and have been discharged home and are recovering
  • 4 were never hospitalized

Negative Results: 75

Pending Results: 4

 

8. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/9

1. Georgia Extends Public Health State of Emergency through May 13, 2020.

Governor Brian P. Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, and House Speaker David Ralston have announced plans to extend Georgia’s public health state of emergency through May 13, 2020 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Under state law, the Governor may renew the public health state of emergency, which was otherwise set to expire on April 13, 2020. Lt. Governor Duncan and SpeakerRalston agree it is necessary for the public health emergency to be renewed and will not be requesting a special legislative session, which was tentatively scheduled for April 15, 2020. Read the press release here.  

2. The UGA/SBDC COVID-19 Relief website
At Gov. Brian Kemp’s direction, the University of Georgia, the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs partnered to create a website to provide ongoing information to help small businesses.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on March 27 allocates $349 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid current circumstances. The CARES Act provides funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), modifies the existing Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and provides immediate loan payment relief for current SBA 7(a) borrowers.

More information about each program is provided through the webinars, as well as on the COVID-19 Relief website at. www.georgiasbdc.org/georgia-small-business-recovery.  

3. COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Hub
Psych Hub (https://psychhub.com/) is providing tools and resources to help manage potential stress and anxiety resulting from COVID-19. This hub brings together a variety of resources to help cope with social isolation, job loss and other mental health issues people may be facing.


With options for every audience, Psych Hub has the world's largest online platform of digital education on mental health issues. Psych Hub’s free micro-video library hosts over 100 consumer-facing, animated videos focused on improving mental health literacy and reducing stigma about seeking care.

4. Absentee Voting in Georgia for May 19, 2020 Primary
The State of Georgia allows absentee voting by mail and in-person. No excuse is required to vote before election day. Georgia law allows for absentee by mail ballots to be requested up to 180 days before an election. To request an absentee ballot, voters should complete an absentee ballot application and return the absentee ballot application to their county registration office. 

 

Absentee ballot applications can be returned by mail, fax, email (as an attachment), or in-person to the local County Board of Registrar’s Office.

Click here to view a fillable PDF of the Georgia Application for Official Absentee Ballot 

Stephens County Chief Registrar: Eureka Gober, 37 W. Tugalo St., P.O. Box 1557, Toccoa, GA 30577, Telephone: (706) 886-8954, Fax: (706) 886-2185, Email: egober@stephenscountyga.com

5. Responding to the 2020 Census
The time is now. Help shape our future, and our community's future, by responding to and encouraging your employees to respond to the 2020 Census.
Most households received their invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12 – 20. These official Census Bureau mailings will include detailed information and a Census ID for completing the Census online.
In addition to an invitation to respond, some households will receive a paper questionnaire (sometimes known as the census form). You do not need to wait for your paper questionnaire to respond to the Census.
Please complete your form online, by phone, or by mail. Visit my2020census.gov to begin.  

6. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of fifteen (15) positive cases for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/8

1. Covering Your Face in Public

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (such as grocery stores and pharmacies and some manufacturing settings), especially in areas of significant and community-based transmission. Please note, the CDC is not recommending the use of medical grade or surgical grade masks, which should only be used by medical professionals as they work to save lives. Their guidance includes how the face covering should be worn, how to wash or sterilize it and even direction on how to sew one.More information on the CDC’s new guidance can be found on their website here.   

2. Comprehensive COVID-19 Resource Guide
The attached resource guide prepared by the University of Georgia's Archway Partnership, is a great comprehensive guide to have and share.

 

3. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of thirteen (13) positive cases for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/7

1. SBA Paycheck Protection Program

This is not a recommendation for this particular bank, there are other great local banks approved by SBA. This information below however, is a good summary of the Paycheck Protection Program. Please contact the institution with whom you have a current banking relationship.

We are now accepting applications for SBA Paycheck Protection Program Loans under the CARES Act.

United Community Bank

 

Thank you for your interest in applying for a SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan with United Community Bank and thank you for your patience. We are happy to inform you that your portal link is now available and you can now submit your application! 

We recommend submitting your application in a timely manner as the portal will only be open for a limited time.

Some of the most frequently asked questions you may have are: 

How many loans can I take out under the Paycheck Protection Program? 
Only one per entity. If you are applying on behalf of more than one entity, you will need to provide a new email for each application.

When am I eligible to apply?
Small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply immediately. Independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply beginning Friday, April 10.

How much can I borrow with a PPP Loan?
Loans can be up to 2.5 x average monthly payroll costs, not to exceed $10 million. Our intuitive online application will assist with determining your eligible PPP loan amount. Or, click here for our handy Payroll Costs Calculator.

How long will this program last? 
Although the program is open until June 30, 2020, we encourage you to apply as quickly as you can because there is a funding cap.

How long will it take to get my loan proceeds? 
Once the SBA releases further details and guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program, United Community Bank can approve your loan and disburse funds as fast as possible.

For more resources and information for your application process, please visit ucbi.com/cares.  

Click here to access the automated system to begin your PPP application!

We look forward to serving you

2. Please call on us if there is anything we can do to help

As we all continue to monitor how COVID-19 is affecting the community, we wanted to check in and say we're here to help where we can. During this uncertain time, please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions you have or anything else we might be able to assist with. Your health, safety, and well being are very important to us.

3. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of eight (8) positive cases for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our SCDA website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/6

1. Coronavirus Emergency Loans

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses and nonprofits keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to eligible organizations. Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward. The administration soon will release more details including the list of lenders offering loans under the program. In the meantime, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued this guide to help organizations understand what to expect and prepare to file for a loan.

https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/sites/default/files/C3_COVID_EmergencyLoanGuide.pdf  

 

2. Has the coronavirus hit your staff?

Here's what employers need to know. (You don't have to accept the offer of a newsletter.)

https://www.bizjournals.com/newyork/news/2020/04/05/has-the-coronavirus-hit-your-staff-here-s-what.html?ana=e_ny_bn_exclusive_exclusive&j=90502974&t=Breaking%20News&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTmpsaFl6RXlNVGczWkRBNCIsInQiOiJJT1NPbWdrdmdFRkJSeThjQUtHdXBhUzdSY3RFZitYNkFxTTIydU9ndmpoRUFGajJzUUVnNTJjYXh5Y1JNUnV6NlBraTFxUzMwTEs1enRadVFKQmJqbGlpcXFZbXNSRERJUGk4OCt5bUh3YXV4Wkd4dzAzTXRaRStXdVB0T0ZPTyJ9 

 

3. U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler

Do you have any concerns or updates that you would like to convey to Washington? Senator Loeffler's Northeast Georgia Field Representative Davis Warnell has regular and frequent calls with the DC office. Here's how to communicate with Davis: Davis_Warnell@loeffler.senate.gov or 770-661-0999.

 

4. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of six (6) positive cases for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/3

1. Shelter in Place Ordered by Governor Kemp
As of today, April 1, 2020, Governor Kemp has issued a Shelter In Place order which will affect all non-essential business and industry within our community starting Friday, April 3, 2020 until April 13, 2020.

Read the Executive Order: bit.ly/GAExecutiveOrder

Read the Guidance: bit.ly/GAShelterInPlaceGuidance

 

2. SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan
Business may have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 and you may want to apply for the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). 

What can you do now?
United Community Bank has created a CARES Act website with many resources that can help you determine the right loan for your business and steps to take to prepare for the application:

3. Stephens County Update

Currently, the Stephens County Hospital has reported three (3) positive cases, however, the Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of five (5) positive cases for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 


Today, April 1, 2020 statistics for Stephens County Hospital....
Tested: 34 Individuals
Positive Cases: 3
Negative Cases: 16
Pending Results: 15

 

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources

COVID-19 Update - 4/2

1. Shelter in Place Ordered by Governor Kemp

As a reminder, Governor Kemp has issued a Shelter In Place order which will affect all non-essential business and industry within our community starting Friday, April 3, 2020 until April 13, 2020.

Please read the news release here: https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/atlanta/gov-kemp-give-update-state-response-coronavirus-crisis/T2JKSNBA2BGQNOGOTQ7Z75S5BI/  

If you believe your business is an essential industry and have not already replied to previous emails concerning being placed on the essential industry list, you must file a request by replying with answers to the questions below:

  1. Company name:
  2. Location/Address:
  3. Type of industry (indicate type of trade/service):
  4. Contact Name, Title, phone number, email address:
  5. Reason for requested exemption:

If you have already replied to a previous email with your company's information and need an employee exemption template letter, please let us know.

2. GA Department of Labor Unemployment Filing Requirements

The Georgia Department of Labor has published very important instructions for the COVID-19 and unemployment filing.

Employers are required to file partial claims on behalf of their employees whenever it is necessary to temporarily reduce work hours or there is no work available for a short period.

Any employer found to be in violation of this rule will be required to reimburse GDOL for the full amount of unemployment insurance benefits paid to the employee.

The below links provide information on how to comply with these rulings:

For the small employers who may not have the GDOL Employer Handbook, this is a great resource: https://dol.georgia.gov/search?search=employer+handbook&sm_site_name=dol

We encourage employers and individuals to check GDOL's website for continued updates: https://dol.georgia.gov/  

3. GA Department of Community Affairs Website for High-Speed Internet

The COVID-19 virus is impacting Georgian’s ability to work, access healthcare, and receive education services. Because of the shift to telehealth with “virtual visits”, teleworking, and remote continuity of learning, and in partnership with Governor Brian Kemp and the state Coronavirus Task Force, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs has launched this webpage to provide information to Georgians and resources to connect to high-speed internet.

https://broadband.georgia.gov/georgia-internet-access-covid-19-update

4. GA Department of Economic Development Trade Division

GDEcD Trade is here to support you in any way possible and continue to be open for business and are working hard to continue the state’s trade mission, assisting Georgia companies to grow their international footprint.

During this evolving global pandemic GDEcD Trade is rapidly changing the way we deliver trade services. To ensure the safety of our clients, business community and the Trade team, GDEcD Trade is working virtually and reaching out to companies individually by phone, email and through social media.

GDEcD Trade understands that Georgia companies’ international business strategies and missions are evolving and adapting. GDEcD Trade is leveraging our 12 international representatives to help companies navigate these changing markets to help them continue to sell their products and services globally. We continue to offer trade resources that focus on international insights and connections for Georgia companies.

During a time with travel restrictions, online resources for Georgia companies are an important component to develop a global online presence and enhance exporting networks. GDEcD Trade has introduced a free international marketing tool, the Export Georgia, USA online directory: www.georgia.org/export. This new resource provides an online platform to promote companies' products or services around the world. 

Additional online resources include the State's COVID-19 dedicated webpage Georgia Department of Economic Development and Small Business Development International Centers; federal government resources, the Small Business Administration, EXIM Bank, and the United States Commercial Service.

5. Stephens County Update

Currently, the Stephens County Hospital has reported three (3) positive cases, however, the Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of five (5) positive cases for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Today, April 2, 2020 statistics for Stephens County Hospital....
Tested: 40 Individuals
Positive Cases: 3
Negative Cases: 19
Pending Results: 18

We will continue to keep you informed on the status of Stephens County. Please visit our website for the most up to date statistics and resources: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 4/1

Shelter in Place Ordered by Governor Kemp

As of today, April 1, 2020, Governor Kemp has issued a Shelter In Place order which will affect all non-essential business and industry within our community starting Friday, April 3, 2020 until April 13, 2020.

Please read the news release here: https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/atlanta/gov-kemp-give-update-state-response-coronavirus-crisis/T2JKSNBA2BGQNOGOTQ7Z75S5BI/  

If you believe your business is an essential industry and have not already replied to previous emails concerning being placed on the essential industry list, you must file a request by replying with answers to the questions below:

  1. Company name:
  2. Location/Address:
  3. Type of industry (indicate type of trade/service):
  4. Contact Name, Title, phone number, email address:
  5. Reason for requested exemption:

Several businesses within Stephens County are applying for exemption and will need to exercise special precautions related to social distancing during work situations as well as breaks/lunches, etc. to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

If you have already replied to a previous email with your company's information, please see the attached template letter for your use to distribute to your exempt employees.

Should you have questions or require additional information, please feel free to contact me. We will continue to keep you updated!

COVID-19 Update - 3/31

1. GDOL Employees Rights — FFCRA Act

Attached are the posters for the NEW Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which will take effect on April 1, 2020.

Please post these at your company and distribute to management!

If you need assistance with filing unemployment claims, please watch this tutorial video: https://dol.georgia.gov/georgia-employer-filed-claims-tutorial

2. Emergency Loan Guidance

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.

Please view and download the attached "U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist" PDF for more information.  

Apply for the Loan Advance here: covid19relief.sba.gov/#/

3. Applying for a SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Webinar

Date: Thursday, April 2
Time: 2:00 pm EST
Cost: FREE
Hosted by UGA Small Business Development Center

Register here: bit.ly/SBDCWebinar

What you will learn:

  • What businesses or non-profit organizations are eligible?
  • What are the rates and terms of the loan?
  • How do I apply?
  • What information do I need to have ready before I apply?
  • When can I expect to receive a response?
  • Who can help if I have questions or need additional assistance?

4. Stephens County Update

Currently, the Stephens County Hospital has reported zero positive cases, however, the Georgia Department of Health has reported 4 positive cases for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Today, March 31, 2020 statistics for Stephens County Hospital....
Tested: 28 Individuals
Positive Cases: 2
Negative Cases: 15
Pending Results: 11

Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 

COVID-19 Update - 3/25

1. Essential Industries List

We have received several questions concerning how to be designated as an "essential industry" in the case of a state-wide business closure mandate, here is the response from our regional coordinator Barbara Fiedor (BFiedor@georgia.org).... 

"GDEcD has been asked to track the "exclusion" requests that are coming in from industries/companies that want to be considered “essential businesses” and allowed to remain open if some kind of mandated shut down is ordered. We do want to stress that Governor Kemp does not believe that a mandated shut down is in the best interest of the state at this time, but as we all know-this is an extremely fluid situation. We will track the requests, inputting the information below so that it can be pulled and considered if circumstances warrant."

Please respond with the following information if your company wishes to request to be included in this list.

  1. Company/Industry Association Name
  2. Location (address if an individual company, "statewide" if it’s a trade association")
  3. Type of Industry
  4. Point of contact (name, phone, email)
  5. Reasons for exclusion request

This information will be reported to the Georgia Department of Economic Development who will track requests. If a state-wide shutdown is mandated, the department will contact you.

2. Personal Property Tax Returns

As of today, March 23, 2020, there are no plans to extend the tax return deadline of April 1, 2020.

Please let this be a reminder to file your freeport exemption forms before the April 1st deadline to take full advantage of this exemption.

Freeport Inventory tax form PT-50PF: https://dor.georgia.gov/pt-50pf-application-freeport-exemption-inventory  

3. Stephens County Update

We have compiled a page of all Stephens County resources and will continue to keep it updated with the most accurate status for Stephens County, including information concerning the SBA Economic Disaster Loans: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources

As of March 23, 2020, the Stephens County Hospital reports...
"Tested: 11 Individuals
Positive Cases: 0
Negative Cases: 4
Pending Results: 7"

However, there is a Stephens County citizen who has tested positive and is seeking treatment at North Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, so please take the necessary precautions: https://bit.ly/3bo75Um

Thank you for all that you are doing in these times to ensure your employees safety, we are grateful to have you in our community. We continue to monitor the COVID-19 status and how Georgia is responding. Governor Kemp issued new executive orders and provided a state update, you can read the press release and watch the video here: https://gov.georgia.gov/press-releases/2020-03-23/gov-kemp-issues-new-executive-orders-provides-covid-19-update

COVID-19 Update - 3/24

1. Georgia Tech Resources

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GMEP) exists to serve manufacturers.

GMEP utilizes a framework of Organizational Excellence across all levels of manufacturing plants to ensure business stability, align organizational goals, develop effective leadership styles, and advance your manufacturing plant by strategically planning for future growth.

In these trying times GMEP is eager to help manufacturers with whatever problems they may  have. 

Please go to www.gamep.org for more information.

2. BRE Survey

No one is escaping the wrath of COVID-19. Therefore, we should all have our voices heard as decision makers try and address the economic implications of this situation.

SCDA has been asked to be part of Blane Canada's national effort to determine the business and worker impacts of COVID-19, please use this link to respond to the survey on behalf of your organization: http://sgiz.mobi/s3/71d02eafdd8d

We are all in this together. Help make a difference. Let’s make decision makers aware of what is happening to our organizations.

3. File Your Notice of Intent to claim Tax Credits

As a reminder, the deadline for companies to file a NOI  to maintain benefits based on 2019 tier rankings or LDCT status is March 31, 2020. This deadline remains in effect. We will fill out your LDCT tract number. Please take advantage of these tax credits by filling out the NOI form and sending it back to us.

Here is the link to the NOI form:
https://www.dca.ga.gov/sites/default/files/notice_of_intent_with_instructions_2020rev_0.pdf

4. Stephens County Update

As of March 24, 2020, the Stephens County hospital reports...
Number of Individuals Tested: 13
Positive Results: 0
Negative Results: 4
Pending Results: 9
However, please be advised that the Georgia Department of Health is reporting 1 active case in Stephens County. This is presumed to be the case of the Stephens County resident who is being treated at the North Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville.

We will continue to keep you informed on the status of Stephens County. Please visit our website for the most up to date statistics and resources: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources

Friday, June 3, 2020

1. Georgia Departments of Education, Public Health release guidance for safe return to in-person instruction in fall 2020

The guidelines are intended to ensure the safety of students, staff, and families while remaining flexible, responsive, and achievable in the K-12 setting. They are guidelines, not mandates, and are adaptive to multiple scenarios. School districts should review the guidance in consultation with their local public health departments and choose which methods to adopt. Georgia's K-12 Restart Working Groups will meet through the summer and fall to build out resources for school district planning and implementation.

2. Resources Provided to Real Estate Professionals
As our country works toward opening back up, the Georgia Upstate Lakes Board of Realtors is staying up to date. Here are some links they have provided to their membership with current resources:

https://garealtor.com/wp-content/uploads/GAR-Best-Practices-for-Conducting-Real-Estate-Spring-Summer-2020.pdf

https://www.nar.realtor/coronavirus-a-guide-for-realtors

https://www.nar.realtor/covid-19-workplace-re-entry-checklist

https://www.homelight.com/blog/agent-how-coronavirus-impacts-real-estate-tracker/

3. Office Cleaning Video Resource

This is not a company endorsement, but Bishop Clean Care, Inc. is a residential and commercial cleaning company serving the Southwest Georgia community for more than 65 years. They have put together a 15:36 minute YouTude video highlighting the various ways to disinfect, sanitize, or sterilize "touch-point" surfaces in your business.
 
4. Mental Health Resource Related to COVID-19 Pandemic Disease 
As we know COVID-19 is a pandemic disease. This leads to both physical and mental problems. The physical symptoms are high temperature, vomiting, etc. The mental symptoms are feeling lonely, stressful, increased pressure level, heart rate, missing social movement, shooting peak rise in anxiety level, etc. Are these noted in seniors alone? No, these are common in seniors, children and Elders. 
 
Though the symptoms are common the relaxing measures are different for different age groups. To know the exact WHO methods of relaxation move on to the Beeboom.co article in the following link ( Protect Your Family’s Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic ). Retrieve yourself back to normal state and reduce the narrow rising tension.

5. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one hundred forty-seven (147) confirmed positive cases and two (2) reported deaths for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Stephens County Hospital has added additional details to their COVID-19 Positive Result Statistics.  
Tests Completed: 1022
Positive Results: 116
Negative Results: 885
Pending Results: 21
  • The 90 patients that have been treated for COVID-19 at Stephens County Hospital or Stephens County Hospital Physician Group Clinics have now fully recovered.
  • Currently the hospital has two (2) patients hospitalized with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19.
  • Visitor restrictions remain in place for Stephens County Hospital as they are still continuing to see cases throughout our community. This is to help keep the patients safe as they enter the facilities. Patients coming for Labor and Delivery are allowed one support person. Patients coming for outpatient surgery are allowed one support person. Patients who are admitted to the hospital are allowed one support person for end of life discussions. No visitors under the age of 16 are allowed at this time. The hospital staff appreciates your understanding as they work to ensure safety.
NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 280
Positive Results: 36
Negative Results: 229
Pending Results: 15
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.
 
6. How can SCDA better serve you?
We want to know, during this challenging time, how we can better meet your needs as a valuable business and employer in Toccoa-Stephens County. Please call 229-886-2332 or email Tim@SCDA.biz. 
 
March 30, 2020
 
1. New CARES Act Information
The Congress has passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which will provide 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses.

Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward. A few things to note:
  • You are NOT required to have sought and were unable to obtain credit elsewhere.
  • A personal guarantee is NOT required for the loan.
  • NO collateral is required for the loan.
  • From February 15, 2020 to December 31, 2020, the borrower has not received a loan duplicative of the purpose and amounts applied for here. NOTEThere is an opportunity to fold emergency loans made between January 31, 2020 and the date this loan program becomes available into a new loan.
Pay attention to that last bullet point! That means that you can fold SBA Economic Injury loans into this new loan if you are able to obtain them before this program becomes available. We still recommend that you take advantage of the Economic Injury Loan Program. If you are unable to take advantage of it before this loan becomes available, then we would recommend trying to make use of the CARES Act instead.
  • You can also apply for loans as an independent contractor, sole proprietor, or self-employed individual.
  • You can borrow up to 2.5x your average monthly payroll cost, not to exceed $10 million
Finally, a borrower is eligible for loan forgiveness equal to the amount the borrower spent on the following items during the 8-week period beginning on the date of loan origination:
  • Payroll costs.
  • Interest on the mortgage obligation incurred in the ordinary course of business.
  • Rent on a leasing agreement.
  • Payment on utilities (electricity, gas, water, transportation, telephone, or internet).
  • For borrowers with tipped employees, additional wages paid to those employees.
Loan forgiveness cannot exceed the principal. The amount of loan forgiveness is reduced if there is a reduction in the number of employees or greater than 25% in wages paid to employees. Bringing back employees before June 30, 2020 will result in the restoration of full forgiveness options.

This is a GREAT program to take advantage of. The application has not gone online yet, but you can see that there are numerous loan forgiveness opportunities. Again, we still recommend you DO apply for the SBA Economic Injury Loan. We will follow up once this loan also becomes available.

Please call or email with any questions. This information is available on our website: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources
 

2. Essential Industries List

If you have not already responded to previous emails with your requests to be placed on an "essential businesses" list, please do so now. Currently, there are no plans for forced closures by the government, however, we want to be prepared with your answers.

  • Company/Industry Association Name
  • Location (address if an individual company, "statewide" if it’s a trade association")
  • Type of Industry
  • Point of contact (name, phone, email)
  • Reasons for exclusion request

This information will be reported to the Georgia Department of Economic Development who will track requests. If a state-wide shutdown is mandated, the department will contact you.

 

3. Stephens County Update
Currently, the Stephens County Hospital has reported zero positive cases, however, the Georgia Department of Health has reported 3 positive cases for Stephens County: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report 

Today, March 30, 2020 statistics for Stephens County Hospital....
Tested: 23 Individuals
Positive Cases: 1
Negative Cases: 12
Pending Results: 10
 
**Today, March 30, 2020 Quality Foods has received confirmation from the Georgia Department of Public Health that an employee who works at Toccoa Quality Foods, Toccoa, GA has tested positive for COVID-19. Read their announcement here: https://bit.ly/2xwfrKO
 
Please continue to stay safe and check our website for additional information and up to date statistics: https://www.scda.biz/local-resources 
 
About

The SCDA is responsible for the recruitment of new businesses including industrial, manufacturing, distribution, corporate and regional headquarters and customer service centers. It also provides support and assistance with all other types of economic development projects.

The SCDA also works with existing businesses and industries to ensure their continued success. While recruitment of new industry is a significant function, aiding in existing industry expansion and retention is just as significant. About 80 percent of all new jobs in Georgia come as a result of existing industry expansion.

For Businesses
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Opportunity Zone Tax Credit
Freeport Tax Exemption
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Contact Us
Phone:
706-886-4242
Address:
31 W. Doyle Street, Toccoa GA 30577
Hours:
Mon-Fri 8:30 am to 5:30 pm
E-mail:
tim@scda.biz
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