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  (1263) confirmed positive cases and 41 reported deaths for Stephens County

The statistics for Stephens County Hospital....

Tested: 5,601 Individuals

Positive Cases: 1136 (919 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple ocasions.)

Negative Cases: 4442

Pending Results: 23

  • Currently, the Stephens County Hospital has 3 patient2 with a confirmed positive test result for COVID-19.
  •  

The statistics for the NGPG Toccoa Clinic....

Tested: 2165

Positive Cases: 278

Negative Cases:1879

Pending Results:8

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.

"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:

October 27, 2020

 

1. Creating a Safer COVID-Era Workplace with Technology
This IndustryWeek article reminds us of the importance of workplace safety. 
Manufacturing leaders have two crucial tasks: they must develop ways to protect employees from spreading the virus, but they must do so without slowing down production – especially production of essential items like medical devices and pharmaceuticals. This article suggests three strategies for manufacturing leaders to digitize their tools and technologies in ways that will improve processes and help keep their workers safe:  
Automate Tasks that Put Multiple Workers in a Confined Space
Take an overall look at each of the tasks executed and assess which create scenarios where multiple team members are congregated closely. Are they mission-critical for production? What technology within the factory can be leveraged to execute portions of these tasks in safer ways? In addition to these proactive measures, technology can also be used reactively to protect workers. COVID-19 safety apps can identify potential exposure within the workplace when a confirmed case occurs, and rapidly activate an exposure mitigation plan. 
Manufacture Products in New Ways
The training provided to educate workers on new products can also be applied to adjusting the way products are manufactured today. Modifying the steps needed to get from concept to completion will still result in the same end result, but the actions taken along the way could promote worker safety throughout the production lifecycle.
Leverage AI to Improve Operational Quality and Efficiency 
AI is one area in particular where manufacturing should focus its digital roadmap. Accelerating a move toward more digital ways of working could be the key to reducing risk while maintaining production. 

2. Export initiative enables global engagement
As the effects of the current pandemic continue to evolve, a partnership approach to economic development is crucial on a global scale. The Georgia Department of Economic Development International Trade team is facilitating that through the Export Georgia, USA Directory platform. Read the blog post to learn how the organization is building worldwide clout for Georgia businesses. Learn which businesses can benefit most from this online tool and how to register in this Q&A blog post.  

3. Two Interesting Items from The Washington Post Coronavirus Update:
The World Health Organization announced last week that it will partner with Wikipedia, allowing the digital encyclopedia to use the WHO's material across its more than 5,000 coronavirus-related articles.  
On Dec. 1, Southwest Airlines will become the latest U.S. carrier to resume selling full flights, and it's trying to assure customers that in-flight air filters and other measures will keep them safe.

4. Stop wiping down groceries and focus on bigger risks, say experts on coronavirus transmission
Although studies continue to show that the novel coronavirus can be detected on contaminated objects after days or weeks, a consensus has emerged among scientists that the virus is rarely transmitted through contact with tainted surfaces and that it’s safe to stop taking such extreme measures as quarantining your mail and wiping down your groceries. “To the best of my knowledge, in real life, scientists like me — an epidemiologist and a physician — and virologists basically don’t worry too much about these things,” said David Morens, a senior adviser to the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony S. Fauci. That’s in line with advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has updated its "How COVID-19 Spreads" webpage to say that “spread from touching surfaces is not thought to be a common way” the virus is transmitted.
 
5. Community Wide Halloween Trunk or Treat sponsored by the Toccoa Elks Lodge
SCDA will have a booth at the Toccoa Elks Lodge, 14 Remsdale Road, Toccoa, GA, 30577 from 12 noon to 2 p.m. Please plan to bring your little ghosts and goblins 12-and-under for some fun!  There is a large parking lot for social distancing, and in case of inclement weather, there will be adequate space inside as well.
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of October 23, 2020 update:
0 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
0 staff members quarantined.
1 student with a positive COVID-19 test
11 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 10/23/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
On October 22, 2020: SCHS was notified of a positive student. All exposed students were notified of possible exposure. All exposed students will follow DPH guidelines and quarantine at home.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand two hundred sixty-three (1,263) confirmed positive cases and forty-one (41) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,601
Positive Results Received: 1,136 (919 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,442
Pending Results: 23

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 3 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 1 other who is hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,193
Positive Results: 283
Negative Results: 1,904
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.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 177
Positive Results: 49
Negative Results: 126
Pending Results: 16
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.  

 

October 26, 2020

1. Remdesivir becomes first Covid-19 treatment to receive FDA approval
This CNN report in the Gwinnett Daily Post, states the US Food and Drug Administration has approved remdesivir for the treatment of coronavirus infection, the drug's maker, Gilead Sciences. It is the first drug to be approved for treating Covid-19. The drug, sold under the brand name Veklury, has been used under emergency use authorization since May. "In the United States, Veklury is indicated for adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older and weighing at least 40 kg) for the treatment of COVID-19 requiring hospitalization," the company said in a statement.
 

2. First large-scale US Covid-19 vaccine trial reaches target enrollment of 30,000 participants
This CNN story published in the Gwinnett Daily Post, reports Moderna, the first company to start US clinical trials of a Covid-19 vaccine, has finished enrolling all 30,000 of its participants. All 30,000 have received their first shot, and most of them have also received the required second shot. The company's president says it's now on track to apply to the US Food and Drug Administration for authorization to put the vaccine on the market in early December "if all the stars align." Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna's president, said enrolling 30,000 participants is "just a milestone -- it's not the mission." Half of the participants received the vaccine and half received a placebo, or a shot of saline that does nothing. The participants receive a second shot four weeks later. 
Moderna is one of four US Phase 3 trials of coronavirus vaccines, each involving tens of thousands of participants. Moderna started its Phase 3 trial July 27, and Pfizer started its trial that evening. AstraZeneca started its US trial August 31 and paused it about a week later when a participant fell ill. Johnson & Johnson started its trial September 23 and paused it less than three weeks later for the same reason. Both of those pauses are still in effect. Pfizer has said it could apply for emergency use authorization after the third week in November.
 
3. Do we know anything new about whether you can get Covid-19 from surfaces?
As reported in this WIRED article, in the early days of the pandemic, many of us furiously scrubbed down surfaces out of concern that anything we touched could give us Covid-19. Since then, there has been quite a bit of research on how long and how much the SARS-CoV-2 virus lasts on surfaces. In short, it can linger, especially in places where infected people have recently been. But that doesn’t mean you need to be quarantining packages and washing your groceries. All evidence indicates that basic precautions like handwashing will do the trick, and worrying too much about small stuff like keeping surfaces pristine can actually detract focus from where it counts. Experts agree that shared air is the biggest threat.

4. Scientists around the world are turning to feces to track coronavirus outbreaks
According to this article in The Washington Post, scientists around the world are sifting sewage water to catch coronavirus outbreaks. Sewage tests cannot identify individual cases but can help some communities, such as universities, respond to outbreaks in particular areas or buildings. A particularly ambitious program in Ottawa tracks the poop of “over a million souls.” Each sample costs only several hundred dollars and gives a reliable snapshot of the big picture, and there are few privacy concerns because the tests do not detect individual infections.
 
5. 30 States Saw Unemployment Fall in September
This US News & World Report article reports recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic but rates are higher in all states than they were before the coronavirus struck in late February and compared to year-ago levels. Georgia unemployment rate stands at 6.4%. The Stephens County unemployment rate is 5.5%.
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of October 23, 2020 update:
0 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
0 staff members quarantined.
1 student with a positive COVID-19 test
11 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 10/23/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
On October 22, 2020: SCHS was notified of a positive student. All exposed students were notified of possible exposure. All exposed students will follow DPH guidelines and quarantine at home.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand two hundred sixty-three (1,263) confirmed positive cases and forty-one (41) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,601
Positive Results Received: 1,136 (919 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,442
Pending Results: 23

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 3 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 1 other who is hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,165
Positive Results: 278
Negative Results: 1,879
Pending Results: 8
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 177
Positive Results: 49
Negative Results: 126
Pending Results: 16
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.  

 

October 23, 2020

1. Consumer masks could soon come with labels saying how well they work

This article in The Washington Post Coronavirus Update says mask manufacturers such as 3M, Honeywell and DuPont are trying to agree on a set of standards to label masks to make clear how effectively they filter viral particles. “If widely adopted, the standards could give Americans a sense of certainty and perhaps more confidence to return to offices, classrooms and public spaces next year,” our business desk wrote — but the industry players will have to overcome fierce disagreements.
 
2. Rheumatoid arthritis drug falls short as treatment for hospitalized Covid-19 patients in three studies
In this Gwinnett Daily Post article, it is reported that Tocilizumab, a repurposed rheumatoid arthritis drug once considered a promising treatment for hospitalized patients with Covid-19, generally did not increase patients' chances of survival or help them get better faster, according to three trials published this week. However, a fourth trial did find the drug increased the chances of survival, but because it was an observational study, the results are considered less definitive. Three of the trials were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the other was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. While this leaves the picture for tocilizumab use a bit muddy, the studies taken together show the drug isn't a magic bullet that should be used in all hospitalized patients with Covid-19, but they leave the door open for possible use in specific patient groups.  
 
3. New research shows that Covid-19 mortality rates have decreased for all groups
According to a report on NPR, Covid-19 patient mortality has dropped since the start of the pandemic across all age and racial groups and for those with underlying conditions, according to two new peer-reviewed studies. It’s proof that even if there is no definitive treatment or cure for the disease, doctors are getting better at treating those who are infected. Researchers also think mask-wearing may play a role, as it reduces the initial dose of virus a patient receives. That said, with a 7.6 percent chance of mortality, the disease is still high-risk.
 
4. CDC expands its definition of who is at risk
According to this article in The Washington Post, many more Americans will be considered at risk of catching covid-19 after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidance Wednesday. The agency now says that anyone who has spent a total of 15 minutes over 24 hours within six feet of an infected person will be considered a "close contact," and therefore at risk of catching and spreading the disease. The change could have a large impact on schools and workplaces, where such contacts are hard to avoid.
 
5. Unprecedented vaccine trials on track to begin delivering results
According to this article in The Washington Post Coronavirus Update, independent advisers to the Food and Drug Administration have gathered to lay the groundwork to assess the first results of the country's experimental vaccine trials, which could be released this month or in November. The WP Health desk reports that the government-backed program – “one of the most closely watched human experiments in history” – has gone remarkably smoothly, steering clear of political meddling and progressing with unprecedented speed toward a working vaccine. “Going from where we were in January and February — where we [were] going to be hit by this tsunami — to very likely having a vaccine, or more than one vaccine, that is proven safe and effective within a year, is staggeringly impressive,” said Robert Wachter, the chair of the department of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. Still, a mountain of work remains before a vaccine can be approved, let alone distributed across the country and administered to tens of millions of Americans.
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of October 16, 2020 update:
1 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
3 staff members quarantined.
3 students with a positive COVID-19 test
71 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 10/16/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand two hundred fifty-eight (1,258) confirmed positive cases and forty-one (41) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,398
Positive Results Received: 1,114 (899 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,241
Pending Results: 43

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 1 patient hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,165
Positive Results: 278
Negative Results: 1,879
Pending Results: 8
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 177
Positive Results: 49
Negative Results: 126
Pending Results: 16
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.  

 

 

October 22, 2020

1. Facility managers must prioritize safety in COVID-19 era
Ensuring the health and safety of occupants of commercial and public buildings should be top-of-mind for facility managers in light of the coronavirus pandemic, and "a lot of the messaging is communication, assuring that it is an absolute priority for customers and clients, that hand hygiene and cleaning practices are front and center," says Brian Sansoni of the American Cleaning Institute. Full Story: Facility Cleaning Decisions (10/2020)
 
2. UK launching controversial vaccine trials where volunteers are infected
ABC Good Morning America is reporting that, in a bid to speed up the race to find a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, the U.K. government announced this week that it will be launching some controversial vaccine trials known as challenge trials. In a world first for COVID-19, young healthy volunteers will be vaccinated, then intentionally exposed to the potentially deadly virus in order to test vaccines in a controlled environment. Although some medical experts view them as ethically questionable, the benefit of challenge trials is that they can be completed in a much shorter timeframe than typical late-stage studies. The experiment will take place in a quarantine ward of a north London hospital. After inhaling a diluted dose of the virus, the trial participants will be closely monitored, thus enabling scientists and doctors to better understand the disease and how a vaccine can fight it.

3. Is in-person voting safe during a pandemic?
Experts anticipate that record numbers of Americans will vote by absentee ballot this year in an effort to avoid the risks of in-person voting. But for those unprepared to trust their ballot to the postal service, there are ways to make visiting the polling place safer. Wear comfortable shoes -- and of course, a mask -- and be prepared to wait in line. The CDC also recommends using an alcohol-based sanitizer before and after voting, and bringing your own pen or stylus to cast your vote. Full Story: ABC News (10/19),  HuffPost (10/16),  Prevention (10/17),  National Public Radio (10/15)
 
4. Consumers show spending power despite coronavirus
The pandemic is adding uncertainty to holiday spending forecasts, but some households have increased their savings during the pandemic, creating some reasons for optimism. "We've never seen this kind of increase in a recession -- usually household finances weaken; this is really different and shows there's a lot of spending power in the economy," says Nareit's Calvin Schnure. He expects a 5% uptick in retail sales this holiday season. Full Story: The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (10/18)
 
5. SCDA Blood Drive November 28,2020
SCDA is working with The Blood Connection to conduct a Blood Drive on Saturday, November 28, 2020, from 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. at Towne Plaza, 1502 Big A Road, Toccoa. Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ups will be accepted! All donors will receive a $20 gift card and will be offered a COVID-19 antibody test at no cost. To make an appointment scan the QR Code or go to: https//donate.thebloodconnection.org/m/donor/schedules/sponsor_code. The Sponsor Code is 89SCY.
 
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of October 16, 2020 update:
1 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
3 staff members quarantined.
3 students with a positive COVID-19 test
71 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 10/16/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand two hundred fifty-two (1,252) confirmed positive cases and forty-one (41) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,398
Positive Results Received: 1,114 (899 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,241
Pending Results: 43

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 1 patient hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,165
Positive Results: 278
Negative Results: 1,879
Pending Results: 8
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 177
Positive Results: 49
Negative Results: 126
Pending Results: 16
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.  

--

 

October 21, 2020

1. Plexiglass shields are everywhere, but it's not clear how much they help
According to this article in CNN Business, businesses and workplaces have pointed to plexiglass dividers as one tool they are using to keep people safe against the spread of the virus. But it's important to know there's little data to support their effectiveness, and even if there were, the barriers have their limits, according to epidemiologists and aerosol scientists, who study airborne transmission of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has offered guidance to workplaces to "install physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards, where feasible" as a way to "reduce exposure to hazards," and the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued similar guidance. But those benefits haven't been proven, according to Wafaa El-Sadr, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University. She says there have not been any studies that examined how effective plexiglass barriers are at blocking large droplets. Last week, the CDC released new guidelines saying that the coronavirus can spread through aerosols — tiny particles containing the virus that float in the air and can travel beyond six feet — that are released when people breathe, talk or sneeze.
Restaurants and retail industry trade groups say they view the barriers as one potential way to combat the spread of Covid-19, in addition to other measures.
Mask wearing and maintaining social distancing "are still two effective means to mitigate risk of contracting the virus." The National Restaurant Association said in a statement that plexiglass shields and barriers are a tool that "when combined with other best practices -- like face coverings, appropriate social distancing, and handwashing -- provide an additional level of safety."
That's why upgrading ventilation systems is important to reduce the virus' airborne spread in indoor settings, experts say.

 
2. Tork Site Safety Guide for Manufacturing
Tork, a leading global brand in workplace hygiene, has published a 6-page Site Safety Guide for manufacturing. Please find it attached to this email below.
It’s necessary to 
keep everyone safe and prevent any downtime by supporting employees in practicing proper hygiene in your facility or production plant. We believe that knowledge and the right tools provide the conditions for proper hygiene and cleaning practices. We’ve put together our top recommendations and offers for hygiene and cleaning in the manufacturing and food production industries – to help you maintain a healthy and productive workspace and keep your workers safe.

3. US Retail Sales Rise 1.9 Percent in September, Beating Economists’ Expectations
According to an article in Shopping Center Business, retail sales increased 1.9 percent month-over-month in September, the U.S. Commerce Department reports. The most recent figure is 70 basis points higher than what economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast. Total sales reached $549.3 billion in September, which marked the fifth consecutive month of retail sales growth amid the coronavirus pandemic. In February, the total monthly spending reached $527 billion. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the sectors with the largest gains were clothing and accessories (11 percent), sporting goods stores (5.7 percent) and general merchandise stores (1.8 percent). Electronics and appliance store sales declined 1.6 percent month-over-month. Read more here.
 
4. This is interesting...
Hormel Foods Corp. is touting a new product it's calling a first-of-its-kind innovation. Hormel Black Label Breathable Bacon is a face mask featuring the latest in pork-scented technology "to keep the delicious smell of bacon always wrapped around your nose and mouth." Fans have a chance to order the "smellicious" face mask from now until Oct. 28 at www.breathablebacon.com. Austin, Minnesota-based Hormel will donate one meal to Feeding America for every request, up to 10,000 meals. But last week, Hormel's website had crashed.

5. SCDA Blood Drive November 28,2020
SCDA is working with The Blood Connection to conduct a Blood Drive on Saturday, November 28, 2020, from 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. at Towne Plaza, 1502 Big A Road, Toccoa. Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ups will be accepted! All donors will receive a $20 gift card and will be offered a COVID-19 antibody test at no cost. To make an appointment scan the QR Code or go to: https//donate.thebloodconnection.org/m/donor/schedules/sponsor_code. The Sponsor Code is 89SCY.
 
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of October 16, 2020 update:
1 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
3 staff members quarantined.
3 students with a positive COVID-19 test
71 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 10/16/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand two hundred fifty-two (1,252) confirmed positive cases and forty-one (41) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,398
Positive Results Received: 1,114 (899 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,241
Pending Results: 43

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 1 patient hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,165
Positive Results: 278
Negative Results: 1,879
Pending Results: 8
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 177
Positive Results: 49
Negative Results: 126
Pending Results: 16
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.  

 

October 20, 2020

1. Risk comes on a scale from low to high, and some gatherings are worse than others. 

According to an item in The Washington Post Coronavirus Update, this chart, developed by a British research team, is particularly helpful to assess the risk of gatherings.
image.png

2. Should you get a coronavirus test if you think you have a cold? There may be ‘no right answer.’
This 
article in The Washington Post offers some points to consider: 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people with any symptoms of covid-19 be considered for testing. However, not all experts agree that those with mild symptoms resembling a cold should. Because there is so much overlap between the symptoms of cold, flu and covid-19, it can be challenging, even for clinicians, to distinguish among them without a test. 
According to the CDC, with a cold, you can experience sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, sore throat, coughing, postnasal drip, watery eyes and fever (not common). With the flu, you might have a cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue and fever/chills — although it’s important to understand that it’s possible to have flu without a fever. Vomiting and diarrhea are more common in children than adults. Symptoms of covid-19 again can include sore throat, cough, congestion or runny nose, as well as fever or chills, shortness of breath, fatigue, body ache, headache, loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea. The loss of taste or smell is a real tip-off, experts say.
What should people do if they come down this winter with a mild case of … something? The CDC offers a 
symptom self-checker online (putting in sniffles and a sore throat results in notification that the person “may be eligible for covid-19 testing” and advice to stay home). Anyone who is feeling particularly ill should call a doctor, who should be able to have a decent pulse on what viruses are spreading in their community. 
“I know it is a fairly vague answer,” the scientist quoted in the article said, “but there are no good answers to this one."
 
3. Beyond masks and social distancing: How to stay healthy and sane while still enjoying fall and winter
This CNN 
article published in the Gwinnett Daily Post, says get ready for the most difficult months yet in this pandemic. Here's how you can stay healthy, sane, and actually enjoy these cold-weather months:
Find your social distancing crew and stick with it
You're probably sick of hearing about face masks, social distancing, and hand washing. But those are your strongest weapons against coronavirus. You might also consider limiting your physical contact this fall and winter to a small, select group of friends or family -- and avoiding close contact with anyone outside that group.
Have a plan to take care of your mental health
It's OK to feel scared and to be upset and to get depressed. That's a normal reaction to this. But get ready for it.
Know your risk of infection

MyCovidRisk.app lets you find your risk of getting infected based on your location, your planned activity, the duration of that activity, and what percentage of people are wearing masks. The calculator, created by the Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health, also gives suggestions on how to decrease your risk.
Socializing outside is safer, but not always safe
Outdoors is not perfect. One reason why coronavirus is so contagious is because people who get sick from it typically are most contagious before they start showing symptoms. This means people can easily spread the virus without knowing it.
If you visit friends or family, do it wisely
If you must travel for the holidays, cut out risky behavior before your trip, such as dining at restaurants indoors or getting in close contact with people who don't live with you.
Celebrate the holidays safely
Instead of Halloween parties or trick-or-treating, the CDC suggests carving pumpkins with your family or with friends and neighbors (at a safe distance). You can also have virtual costume contests or a Halloween scavenger hunt, "where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance," the CDC said. For Thanksgiving, you can celebrate by having a virtual dinner with friends or family from afar and sharing your favorite Thanksgiving recipe, the CDC said. You can also help those at high risk for Covid-19 or those who are feeling isolated by preparing traditional Thanksgiving dishes "and delivering them in a way that doesn't involve contact with others," the CDC says.
Keep things in perspective
Remember the long-term benefits of making short-term changes. Personal responsibility and small sacrifices now will pay off later.

 
4. The Five Characteristics of Truly Accountable Leaders
In this IndustryWeek article, author Vince Molinare draws from his book,  Accountable Leaders: Inspire a Culture Where Everyone Steps Up, Takes Ownership, and Delivers Results (Wiley, June 2020), to make the point that accountability is what ultimately differentiates great leaders from mediocre ones. Five behaviors set truly accountable leaders apart from the rest:
1. Hold others accountable for high standards of performance.
Accountable leaders make expectations clear by consistently reinforcing what is essential, and what employees should prioritize in their roles. 
2. Tackle tough issues and make difficult decisions
When leaders avoid the hard work, they become weak. But when they have the courage to tackle the hard work, they become strong. Accountable leaders understand and ensure they have the resilience, determination, and deep sense of personal resolve they need to be effective.
3. Communicate the strategy across the organization
Creating a set of well-defined goals can help people stay engaged and decrease their stress levels. Clarity is foundational to accountability. 
 4. Express optimism about the company and its future
If leaders are not excited about what we are trying to do as a company, then employees will never be. Leaders must provide support, positive energy, and a sense of hope for the future.
5. Display clarity about external trends in the business environment
Accountable leaders regularly assess their environment to spot opportunities and identify threats and risks they can manage.

5. SCDA Blood Drive November 28,2020
SCDA is working with The Blood Connection to conduct a Blood Drive on Saturday, November 28, 2020, from 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. at Towne Plaza, 1502 Big A Road, Toccoa. Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ups will be accepted! All donors will receive a $20 gift card and will be offered a COVID-19 antibody test at no cost. To make an appointment scan the QR Code or go to: https//donate.thebloodconnection.org/m/donor/schedules/sponsor_code. The Sponsor Code is 89SCY.
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of October 16, 2020 update:
1 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
3 staff members quarantined.
3 students with a positive COVID-19 test
71 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 10/16/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand two hundred forty-two (1,242) confirmed positive cases and forty-one (41) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,398
Positive Results Received: 1,114 (899 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,241
Pending Results: 43

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 3 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 3 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,165
Positive Results: 278
Negative Results: 1,879
Pending Results: 8
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 177
Positive Results: 49
Negative Results: 126
Pending Results: 16
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.  

October 19, 2020

1. Update from Stephens County Infectious Disease Director Carmen Kisner, RN
Currently guidelines from the CDC no longer recommend retesting within 90 days after a positive Covid test due to studies finding that a person can carry the virus for up to 90 days after their initial positive test and may continue to test positive. However, studies have shown that the viral shed is non-existent, meaning the person is not contagious more than 10 days after testing positive. The recommendation for quarantine for 14 days after exposure to a known positive is due to the incubation period of the virus is a minimum of 2 days and at this time maximum of 14 days. So it takes at least 2 days for the viral load to be high enough to show on tests after an exposure, but at any time in that 14 day window you could turn positive. They also have gone back to recommending testing of asymptomatic persons who have been exposed due to the fact they are finding more and more healthy persons and younger people who have Covid but never develop symptoms. Even though they may feel fine, they are still contagious during that 10 day period. I know all of this has changed so much and continues to do so.
 
2. 2020 Georgia ‘GEAR Award’ Winners Announced
Here's a proud announcement for Nifco KTW and Toccoa-Stephens County. The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) has announced the five companies who earned 2020 Georgia Emerging Automotive Recognition (GEAR) Awards. Previously known as the Georgia Automotive Awards, the updated GEAR Awards are designed to recognize forward movement in the state’s automotive and mobility industries through innovation and emerging technologies.  
The 2020 GEAR Award winners are:
Supplier of the Year, employing 200+ people: Nifco KTW America, Toccoa
(Nifco is a globally known Tier 1 supplier of automotive parts and their customers include names like BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen and many others.)
Supplier of the Year, employing 199 or fewer people: Sangsin Technology America, McDonough
Transportation Equipment Manufacturer of the Year: Kubota Manufacturing of America Corporation, Gainesville
Automotive Innovation Award: Panasonic Automotive Systems, Peachtree City
Citizenship Award: Freudenberg NOK Sealing Technologies, Cleveland


3. Governor Kemp extends COVID-19 restrictions
On Thursday, October 10, 2020, Governor Brian Kemp signed Executive Order 10.15.01, extending current COVID-19 restrictions with minimal changes to the section on Industry, Commerce, Organizations, & Non-Profits. The new Executive Order took effect on October 16 at 12:00 AM and runs through October 31 at 11:59 PM. The public health emergency remains in place until November 9, 2020. See the full press release here.
 
4. Are you ready to take on a hobby?
This article from the American Heart Association and published in the Gwinnett Daily Post states, "The process of being creative does a whole bunch of really good things for us," physically and mentally, said James C. Kaufman, professor of educational psychology at the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. It's fun and mentally healthy. A 2015 study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that engaging in leisure activities improved mood and stress levels and lowered heart rates. In 2017, a small study in Psychosomatic Medicine found that pleasant leisure activities lowered the blood pressure of Alzheimer's disease caregivers. 
Others' research has found benefits from all kinds of pandemic-safe activities: gardening, spending time outdoors, playing a musical instrument, even knitting. And of course, anything that increases physical activity is crucial for heart health and also can help with brain health, Carlson said. Activities are the one thing that could provide structure and give you back a sense of personal control.
Overwhelmed by the options? Carlson and Parisi have done research indicating that mixing things up might actually be a great idea. "By doing a variety of activities, you'll expose your brain and body to different things," Parisi said. "If you meditate, that may be good for stress reduction and relaxation. If you do some puzzles or reading or writing, that may be more cognitively stimulating. And, if you take walks, that is more physically engaging. By doing all of these, you're really tapping into the whole brain and body." Beyond that, Kaufman said, a good hobby is something that lives in the sweet spot of being not so easy that it's not engaging, but not so challenging that you give up quickly.
 
5. SCDA Blood Drive November 28,2020
SCDA is working with The Blood Connection to conduct a Blood Drive on Saturday, November 28, 2020, from 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. at Towne Plaza, 1502 Big A Road, Toccoa. Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ups will be accepted! All donors will receive a $20 gift card and will be offered a COVID-19 antibody test at no cost. To make an appointment scan the QR Code or go to: https//donate.thebloodconnection.org/m/donor/schedules/sponsor_code. The Sponsor Code is 89SCY.
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of October 16, 2020 update:
1 staff member with a positive COVID-19 test.
3 staff members quarantined.
3 students with a positive COVID-19 test
71 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 10/16/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand two hundred thirty-nine (1,239) confirmed positive cases and forty-one (41) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,530
Positive Results Received: 1,130 (914 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,362
Pending Results: 38

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 1 patient hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,165
Positive Results: 278
Negative Results: 1,879
Pending Results: 8
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 177
Positive Results: 49
Negative Results: 126
Pending Results: 16
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

 

October 16, 2020

 
1. Gov. Kemp Announces $1.5 Billion in CARES Act Funding to Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund
These funds will be allocated to repay borrowing for the Georgia Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to prevent increases in state and federal unemployment taxes. By year's end, the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) estimates that the state Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund will have borrowed a total of $1.5 billion in response to the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on Georgia's labor force. By allocating these Coronavirus Relief Funds for this purpose, Georgia will save the average Georgia employer approximately $350 per year for each employed worker. Governor Kemp is also committing up to an additional $400 million of the Coronavirus Relief Funds for the state share of matching funds for FEMA grants, Georgia National Guard expenses, continued hospital staffing augmentation, and state COVID-19 response expenses. Here's the link to the full Press Release.
 
2. Emory shares in $18.2 million NIH award to continue work on COVID-19 tests
According to this article in the SaportaReport, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Emory University School of Medicine and the Georgia Institute of Technology have received an additional $18.2 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue their verification of COVID-19 diagnostic tests. The funding is from the NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program, an initiative designed to transform innovative technologies into widely accessible COVID-19 diagnostic testing. The goal is to make millions of accurate and easy-to-use COVID tests available for at home or other point-of-care use. Currently, the Atlanta team has participated in verifying 41 tests and 14 have been selected by the NIH for additional federal support as they progress to market. Primarily, ACME POCT will use the additional $18.2 million grant to finish verifying tests that the NIH merits as scalable for market in the next one to two months. The team will also advise the NIH on the best populations, with a focus on asymptomatic, positive cases, to further investigate current test technologies in larger clinical assessment studies and develop the best method for deployment. Finally, they will help advance promising high-risk and high-tech COVID-19 diagnostic tests that cannot meet the RADx fall deadline, for scale up in 2021.
 
3. Q: Does receiving a flu vaccine lower your immunity, making you briefly more susceptible to catching covid-19?
A: According to this article in The Washington Post, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the editors of Harvard Women's Health Watch both point out that the overwhelming majority of research has concluded that flu shots are safe and have no adverse affects on the immune system.

4. New reports show coronavirus immunity can last for months
According to this CNN 
article, three new reports show coronavirus immunity can last for months -- and maybe even longer. The findings suggest that many, if not most, people who recover from coronavirus infections are protected for at least a period of time. They also suggest that coronavirus vaccines may be able to protect people for more than just a few weeks. The novel coronavirus has only been around for less than a year, so it will take time to know just how long immunity lasts. That said, we know that people who were infected with the first SARS coronavirus, which is the most similar virus to SARS-CoV-2, are still seeing immunity 17 years after infection. If SARS-CoV-2 is anything like the first one, we expect antibodies to last at least two years, and it would be unlikely for anything much shorter.
And the studies do not support the idea that the US or any other country could reach herd immunity soon through natural infection. The World Health Organization estimates only 10% of the population has been infected with Covid-19. That leaves a long way to go to herd immunity.
"These studies suggest that if a vaccine is properly designed, it has the potential to induce a durable antibody response that can help protect the vaccinated person against the virus that causes COVID-19," Jennifer Gommerman, professor of immunology at the University of Toronto, said in a statement. "Our study suggests saliva may serve as an alternative for antibody testing. While saliva is not as sensitive as serum, it is easy to collect," Gommerman added.

 
5. SCDA Blood Drive November 28,2020
SCDA is working with The Blood Connection to conduct a Blood Drive on Saturday, November 28, 2020, from 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. at Towne Plaza, 1502 Big A Road, Toccoa. Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ups will be accepted! All donors will receive a $20 gift card and will be offered a COVID-19 antibody test at no cost. To make an appointment scan the QR Code or go to: https//donate.thebloodconnection.org/m/donor/schedules/sponsor_code. The Sponsor Code is 89SCY.
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On October 7, 2020: Toccoa Elementary School Administration was notified of a staff member positive on 10/7/2020. All exposed students will follow Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home. 
Here is the Week of October 9, 2020 update:
4 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
6 staff members quarantined.
6 students with a positive COVID-19 test
151 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 10/9/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand two hundred twenty-four (1,224) confirmed positive cases and forty-two (42) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,398
Positive Results Received: 1,114 (899 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,241
Pending Results: 43

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 3 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 3 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,189
Positive Results: 253
Negative Results: 1,926
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.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 132
Positive Results: 26
Negative Results: 104
Pending Results: 18
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

 

October 15, 2020

1. Leaders, are you feeling the burden of pandemic-related decisions?
This Harvard Business Review article helps us understand that it’s hard for many of us to feel in control as the coronavirus pandemic drags on. Guilt is difficult to reckon with. But it’s also a sign that you’re a conscientious leader. Here are six ways to transform guilt into compassionate leadership:
— TAKE PREEMPTIVE ACTION: One of my clients recognized that she would not forgive herself if any of her employees caught Covid-19, so she studied the available medical and governmental guidelines and adopted operating policies that exceeded them.
— DON’T SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM YOUR TEAM: Leaders who actively share in their team’s pain often feel more confident making tough decisions, particularly when they face their employees directly.
— CORRECT YOUR OWN MISTAKES AS PUBLICLY AS POSSIBLE: When you make a mistake that negatively affects others, take remedial action as soon as you can.
— PROVIDE EXTRA SUPPORT FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED IT: Consider increasing structural support, like implementing flexible schedules, adjusting deadlines or increasing formal check-ins with each employee.
— MODEL HEALTHY BEHAVIOR: Leaders can help by balancing their own personal and work commitments, encouraging team members to take time off and acknowledging employees who share tips and resources for managing workloads.
— FOCUS ON APPRECIATION AND GRATITUDE: A gratitude practice can be helpful in finding a sense of control in acceptance.
 

2. Q. Do you need a negative coronavirus test to leave isolation?
A: According to CDC guidelines, people don't generally need a negative test to be around people again. According to the CDC, research has shown that people aren't likely to be infectious 10 to 20 days (depending upon the severity of the sickness) after symptoms first began, regardless of test results.  
 
3. Is it safe to celebrate Halloween?
Here's a list of precautions to take from pediatricians as published in The Washington Post:
  • Have kids wear a face mask. (Many costumes could easily incorporate one.)
  • Adhere to social-distancing guidelines by standing six feet apart.
  • Have a parent accompany children, regardless of age, to hold them accountable with mask wearing and social distancing.
  • Avoid congregating around doorsteps and porches.
  • Use hand sanitizer after receiving candy from each house.
  • Do not eat candy while trick-or-treating — parents should make certain hands are clean before kids start touching their faces and eating candy.
  • Make certain kids wash their hands as soon as they get home.
  • Have kids remove their costumes and shower.
  • No need to disinfect candy wrappers.
4. You should smile behind your mask!
This article in The Washington Post reminds us it is important to smile, even behind our masks, as it can affect your emotions as well as the emotions of the other person.
Social contact is important for everyone (including introverts)
Social contact is as essential to survival as food and drink. Research shows that social contact improves physical and mental health, increases immunity and reduces stress.
Facial expressions are key to social contact
The face is one of the most important places in the body to look at for social information. Smiling can convey much more than happiness or pleasure.  Smiles are also this big, kind of obvious way that we say, "Not a threat!" Additionally, when you smile, you tend to view others’ facial expressions more positively. People are more likely to perceive neutral faces as positive when they themselves were smiling.
The eyes truly are the window to the soul
Humans are really good at reading eyes. According to research, we respond “instinctively” to eye contact. Try “smizing.” This term, coined by Tyra Banks, refers to smiling with your eyes. The more intense your smile, the more likely your eyes are to crinkle at the corners. Enter the smize. To do it, gently squint your eyes while relaxing the rest of your face. (Banks offers a tutorial 
here.)
Body language matters
A smile can speak volumes — but so can body language. A nod, a wave or a “hello” can also create connection. But, it’s harder to spontaneously engage in friendly gestures without a smile. The face, voice and body normally “hang together.” In other words, you’re naturally inclined to wave enthusiastically if you’re already smiling. If your expression is neutral, it takes more conscious effort to ramp up your body language. So smile, it will also help you find the energy for the nod, wave or hello that will seal the sentiment.

 
5. Atlanta’s Office Market May Have Dodged The Worst of COVID-19’s Impact 
According to this Commercial Observer article, the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has not been nearly as bad as it could have been, overall, for the Atlanta office market, according to what the numbers and long-term trends suggest. While the market has certainly felt the effects of the pandemic, overall leasing activity is down 80.8 percent compared to this time last year, according to Cushman & Wakefield. Atlanta’s diverse industry portfolio still likely saved it from complete destruction.  “I think Atlanta is well-poised for recovery, especially compared to other major metros,” said Christa DiLalo, director of research for the Southeast region at Cushman & Wakefield. “This market has become a viable option for corporate headquarters and hubs. We have a very deep talent pool, and the presence of schools like Georgia Tech right in the heart of the city is a really big draw for companies seeking young, fresh talent. Atlanta is also a notoriously auto-based city, which puts us in a really good position compared to other major metros. So, this is an opportunity for Atlanta to emerge as the new [hot] market."
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On October 7, 2020: Toccoa Elementary School Administration was notified of a staff member positive on 10/7/2020. All exposed students will follow Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home. 
Here is the Week of October 9, 2020 update:
4 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
6 staff members quarantined.
6 students with a positive COVID-19 test
151 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 10/9/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand two hundred twenty-two (1,222) confirmed positive cases and forty-two (42) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,398
Positive Results Received: 1,114 (899 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,241
Pending Results: 43

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 3 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 3 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,189
Positive Results: 253
Negative Results: 1,926
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.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 132
Positive Results: 26
Negative Results: 104
Pending Results: 18
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

 

October 14, 2020

1. Manufacturers: Our Front-Line Defense Against COVID-19
This IndustryWeek article reminds us that as the rate of COVID-19 cases ebbs and flows throughout the country, manufacturers have risen to the challenge in much the same way they did during WWII and other times of national crisis. Now manufacturing workers are spearheading our recovery, ensuring that the American economy reopens and generates prosperity. As the pandemic has shown, America is still a manufacturing nation. Robots, automation and digital technology are not spelling the demise of manufacturing jobs—they’re augmenting the work manufacturers do and making them even more productive. Modern manufacturers include iconic global brands as well as family-owned small businesses. Three-quarters of manufacturing firms have fewer than 20 employees.

Before the pandemic, there were not enough manufacturing workers to go around—and today, there are still about 300,000 open manufacturing jobs. Now and for years to come, manufacturers will be saying, “Creators Wanted.” There’s room for all kinds of talented people in manufacturing, regardless of whether you’re a high school graduate, former military or have an advanced degree. 
Throughout history, manufacturers have acted heroically—to protect our country and save lives. The pandemic was no exception, and manufacturing workers are a major reason why our country is on the road to renewal. Manufacturing is a bid deal in Toccoa-Stephens County and your Stephens County Development Authority is proud of each of our companies!
 
 
2. Is the COVID-19 getting gentler?
According to this article in The Washington Post Coronavirus Update, the novel coronavirus appears to be getting gentler. It's still insidious, dangerous and highly contagious, but the virus's estimated mortality rate has fallen significantly since the spring, from 2 or 3 percent down to 0.65 percent.
The crucial question now is why. It's possible that the lower death rate is just a blip in the data, or a consequence of patients skewing younger. But our Health desk reports that researchers are studying several theories which, if true, could mean the difference between a deadly winter or a relatively mild one. Perhaps the most consequential is the possibility that masks and social distancing don't just reduce people's chances of becoming infected — they also tend to make the infections that occur less severe.
 
3. 5 ways teachers can connect with students during COVID-19
This SmartBrief 
article has some great advice that can be tailored to speak to manufacturers' concerns to maintain human connections:
1. Communication with parents is huge
When we started teaching remotely I handed out the assignments and learned quickly that communication with parents plays a major factor in their children’s participation.  
2. Finding new ways to keep students engaged is valuable
It’s not always easy to keep the attention of students when you’re not standing in front of them. Something I tried was to have them “help” me cook remotely. I’d pull out a home chef meal and send them the directions. I had a huge Zoom-room full of students reading me directions on how to cook. For them, it wasn't just adventure; it was reading for information.  
3. Reading platforms are foundational
When the pandemic hit, we made up packets for the kids — including those who didn’t have access to technology or the internet at home — and used all of the offline activities and lessons that come with the program to support learning. I would print everything out, circle each student’s level, and have the front office distribute the packets to families.
4. Small virtual classrooms are best
 Working in small groups made it much easier to identify students’ needs, determine their challenge areas, and then address those issues. Sometimes we would just chitchat and talk about whatever was on their minds—because maintaining that relationship is so vital.
5. Recognize the individual “wins”
I had one eighth grade student who struggled with reading his whole life. Here was a student who wouldn’t read three sentences out loud when I met him, to one who now was reading on grade level and ready for high school — all within one school year. I celebrated his success by making him a “congratulations” yard sign. He was so excited and his parents sent me a picture of him standing next to it.


4. The Strangest Holiday Shopping Season Ever Kicks Off This Month
According to this Bisnow 
article the holiday shopping this year is going to be markedly different from any that came before, which won’t surprise anyone. Holiday shopping season will start in October this year as shoppers look to avoid crowds and retailers look to avoid shipping delays and product shortages, according to CBRE’s 2020 U.S. Retail Holiday Trends Guide, released last week. The altered timeline will be the first effect of the coronavirus on the holiday shopping season, and it is likely to be more benign than much of what comes next. CBRE projects holiday retail sales to grow less than 2% year-over-year, less than half the 4.1% average sales growth rate in the U.S. market since 2010. That sales are projected to grow at all is attributable to the explosion of e-commerce in the wake of the national, pandemic-driven shutdown in the spring. The exchange between in-store and online shopping is far from an even one. “It’s 10 to 15 times more expensive to deliver a box to a door than it is to deliver a pallet of goods to the store. Shipping to residences is an incredibly challenging part of transportation, which makes that business hard to break even on sometimes. Further suppressing profits in e-commerce is the higher rate of returns from internet sales — around 30%, and even more so during the holidays. As retailers of all sizes have been forced to improve and expand online supply chains to remain in business this year, every in-person sale becomes more precious.
 
5. How to manage anxiety in 4 simple ways
Since anxiety can hit us hard and leave us spinning in our tracks, this SmartBrief article offers four suggestions to help manage your anxiety and reduce stress:
1. Nip the ugly beast in the bud
Here’s the thing about all negative thoughts and emotions: It’s key to nip them in the bud, when they first show their ugly head. It’s also when they are the weakest. If left unattended, fear will continue to grow and become stronger. We’re lectured on how to take better care of our physical health, but we need to pay the same attention to our mental health. When you need a break from anxiety: Meditate, Take a nature walk, Focus on breath, Pray.
2. Create deeper social connections
We don’t need a long list of people, but it is important that we have someone to turn to when life gets hard. We don’t need to be best buddies with everyone we know; when it comes to relationships, always strive for quality over quantity. Deep social connections take time. They need to be cultivated and tended over time, so keep this in mind as you learn how to better manage your social anxiety in the long term.
3. Strive to create certainty
Ambiguity and uncertainty create a threat response so even small tidbits of information can make a huge difference. It’s important to create calmness in those areas of your life where you are in control. The bad news is that you can’t control anything but your thoughts. The good news is that with your thoughts, you can control your stress and anxiety. Search and seek out information so your brain can relax. It knows you’re on top of the situation.
4. Connect with your better self

Once you decide to become an adult (and the choice is yours), you understand your purpose in life --discover your values, live by them, and in the process, become a better person. Make a small commitment each day to be a better person. Focus less on yourself, reach out to others and widen the circle of your concern. With each of these small steps, you’ll begin to connect with your better self. Anxiety lessens when you pursue what is truly important and realize that the world isn’t all about you.
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On October 7, 2020: Toccoa Elementary School Administration was notified of a staff member positive on 10/7/2020. All exposed students will follow Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home. 
Here is the Week of October 9, 2020 update:
4 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
6 staff members quarantined.
6 students with a positive COVID-19 test
151 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 10/9/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand two hundred sixteen (1,216) confirmed positive cases and forty-one (41) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,398
Positive Results Received: 1,114 (899 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,241
Pending Results: 43

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 3 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 3 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,189
Positive Results: 253
Negative Results: 1,926
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.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 132
Positive Results: 26
Negative Results: 104
Pending Results: 18
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

 

 

October 13, 2020

1. WHO now says lockdowns are a bad idea that should be avoided
The World Health Organization (WHO) has changed its position on government lockdowns as a measure for combating the Wuhan coronavirus. The WHO now believes that lockdowns have unintended consequences and should be avoided."We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Dr. David Nabarro, the WHO's Special Envoy on Covid-19 told The Spectator. According to Dr. Nabarro, the only time the WHO believes a lockdown is justified is when a short time is needed "to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted." 
"Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer," Dr. Nabarro warned. The WHO official forecasted a possible doubling of world poverty next year and "at least a doubling of child malnutrition" as a result of the lockdowns. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice. Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed."
 
2. True or false? Disposable/one-use masks really shouldn't be worn multiple times and left in pockets or sitting around on tables.
True and false — just the answer you wanted to hear, we know! 
Last week, Washington Post reporter Allyson Chiu tackled a similar question in her “everything you want to know about masks” guide: How many times can I use a surgical mask before it needs to be thrown out? Chiu asked a couple of infectious disease experts for their takes. “No one knows,” said Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group. “Nobody’s done a piece of research that would give us a black-and-white answer.” “If they’re being worn for a brief period of time while you run out to the store and then set it aside when you’re back in the car, you could probably do that multiple times without any difficulty,” Rupp said. “If you’re wearing it for a prolonged period of time, it becomes damp, soiled, torn, then it’s going to be time to dispose of it.”
But experts differ in their advice. Lisa Maragakis, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, writes: “Disposable, blue surgical masks cannot be laundered or cleaned and should be thrown away when it is visibly soiled or damaged.” Regardless of who you listen to, surgical masks are a pain because they can't be washed. The best option would be to purchase or make a few cloth masks that you can regularly rotate and launder.
 
3. Women are being disproportionately hit by this economic downturn related to the pandemic
According to this article in The Lily, 865,000 women dropped out of the U.S. workforce in September. "Specific groups of women are having the most challenging time — women in service sector jobs which disproportionately are women of color, and mothers, in particular mothers of young children,” said Marianne Cooper, a sociologist and author of “Cut Adrift: Families in Insecure Times.” “For people who have some other income source, whether it’s their partner or they have some savings, they may just make the personal decision that they have to stop working for some period of time to get their kids through this. Having young children in particular is putting the workforce participation of many mothers at risk right now," Cooper said. 
 
4. The realignment of retail amid the pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated many trends that had already been underway in retail, including the growth of online sales. Spending has bounced back since the depth of the shutdowns, but there have been numerous retail bankruptcies and thousands of permanent store closures. Full Story: The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (10/6)   
 
5. CRE pricing gauges have held steady
Measures of commercial real estate pricing have either held steady or increased slightly in recent months, according to various industry indexes. The trend suggests that few fire sales have taken place and that investors are focused on high-quality assets. Full Story: National Real Estate Investor online (10/7)
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On October 7, 2020: Toccoa Elementary School Administration was notified of a staff member positive on 10/7/2020. All exposed students will follow Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home. 
Here is the Week of October 9, 2020 update:
4 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
6 staff members quarantined.
6 students with a positive COVID-19 test
151 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 10/9/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand one hundred ninety-three (1,193) confirmed positive cases and forty-one (41) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,398
Positive Results Received: 1,114 (899 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,241
Pending Results: 43

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 3 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 3 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,189
Positive Results: 253
Negative Results: 1,926
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.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 132
Positive Results: 26
Negative Results: 104
Pending Results: 18
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

 

October 12, 2020

1. A Special Message from Stephens County Hospital
We are wide open here at SCH. There have been a lot of questions coming from industry on when to require quarantine and when to require testing. We are trying to create a flowchart of sorts to help with this and decrease confusion. With the CDC changing guidelines so frequently it's been extremely difficult to keep up. And there are different guidelines for healthcare workers and the general public. 
We have begun offering testing again at Workwell for persons with exposure to a known team positive even if they are not yet showing symptoms. These individuals may either walk in or call (706-282-5815) for an appointment. The minimum incubation period after exposure is 48 hours. So if someone has been exposed they need to wait at least 2 days before being tested and should quarantine during that time. However, it can take as long as 14 days to turn positive after an exposure so trying to pinpoint the best time to test remains extremely difficult. 
We continue to see higher than normal census (patients hospitalized) and this has persisted throughout the summer. We are very grateful for the community's trust in us to provide their healthcare needs and thankful for their ongoing support of our hardworking frontline workers. Our employees are weary, they are mentally, physically and spiritually exhausted. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as you go throughout your day. 
We have begun an employee morale campaign to help encourage and support them through this long fight. Anyone interested in contributing to this campaign can contact our marketing director Joley Strickland at 706-282-4355. We are planning some giveaways of donated items and several area businesses have donated various treats that have really helped to encourage and lift spirits!
Please let us know if there is anything at all you may need from us and we will be sure to pass along the flowchart regarding quarantining and testing when we get it completed.

2. White House approves FDA coronavirus vaccine standards
This Washington Post 
article reports the White House last week approved tougher new standards for coronavirus vaccines. The standards, which would be used for an emergency authorization of a vaccine, are the same ones the agency proposed as part of an effort to boost public confidence in an eventual vaccine. In many cases, they are close to the standards for a full approval of the vaccine. But the White House, worried the criteria would delay authorization of a vaccine.

3. 10% of the world may have been infected by Covid-19, WHO official says
This CNN article published in the Gwinnett Daily Post reports the novel coronavirus may have infected about one in 10 people globally, meaning the majority of the world remains vulnerable to Covid-19, a World Health Organization official has said. "Our current best estimates tell us that about 10% of the global population may have been infected by this virus," Dr. Mike Ryan, director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, said at a WHO executive board meeting Monday. There are more than 35.5 million confirmed Covid-19 cases globally, according to the widely-used Johns Hopkins University dashboard, but WHO and other experts say that is almost certainly an enormous undercount. Over the summer, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said cases in the US had likely been undercounted by at least 90%. With a global population of about 7.7 billion people, Ryan's estimate would mean about 770 million have been infected -- but most have not been diagnosed or counted. Ryan noted Monday that Southeast Asia continues to see a surge in cases, while Europe and Eastern Mediterranean regions were seeing an increase in cases and deaths. However, he noted that the situation in Africa and the Western Pacific was "currently rather more positive." Worldwide, countries are struggling to contain resurgent outbreaks and are reintroducing measures in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

4. WHO warns of virus "fatigue"
The WHO's Europe director Hans Kluge warned Tuesday of "fatigue" surrounding the virus, noting that survey data from the region showed that apathy has reached high levels in some nations. "Although fatigue is measured in different ways, and levels vary per country, it is now estimated to have reached over 60% in some cases," Kluge said in a statement. Kluge said that "these levels of fatigue are to be expected" during such a protracted public health emergency, where citizens have made "huge sacrifices." "Although we are all weary, I believe it is possible to reinvigorate and revive efforts to tackle the evolving Covid-19 challenges that we face," he said. Only four European countries are now measuring below a crucial level of Covid-19 cases, according the latest figures Monday, with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control's (ECDC) warning in its latest risk assessment the risk of Covid-19 is high, with a very high probability of infection, while vulnerable individuals face a "very high impact" from the disease. Overall cases in the US are on the rise as well, with the country reporting more than 50,000 daily cases on Friday and Saturday. The last time the US saw more than 50,000 cases back to back was in mid-August, and the country's leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned that the country is still behind on testing.


5. Covid-19 neurological symptoms emerge in most hospitalized patients, study says
This CNN article published in the Gwinnett Daily Posts reports most patients hospitalized with Covid-19 have neurological symptoms, a new study suggests. The study "highlights the high frequency and range of neurologic manifestations, which occurred in more than four fifths of Covid?19 patients hospitalized in our hospital network system," the researchers wrote in the study, published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology last Monday. The study included data from medical records on 509 Covid-19 patients who were hospitalized across nine hospitals and an academic medical center within the Northwestern Medicine Healthcare system in the Chicago area between March and April. Among those patients, about a quarter of them -- 26.3% -- required mechanical ventilation.
The researchers, from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, found that 42.2% of the patients had neurological manifestations of their Covid-19 illness when they first started experiencing symptoms before going to a hospital. Then by the time patients were sick enough to be hospitalized, 62.7% of them had neurological symptoms, according to the data. Overall, the researchers found that at any time during the course of their Covid-19 illness, 82% of patients had neurological symptoms such as headaches or encephalopathy, altered brain function or structure. The most frequent neurologic manifestations were:
  1. Muscle pain, experienced by 45% of patients
  2. Headaches, experienced by 37.7% of patients
  3. Encephalopathy, experienced by 32% of patients
  4. Dizziness, experienced by 30% of patients
  5. Impaired sense of taste, experienced by 16% of patients
  6. Loss of smell, experienced by 11.4% of patients
The data showed that those with neurologic symptoms also had longer hospital stays -- about eight days vs. five days -- than those without, and the median amount of time in the hospital for those with encephalopathy in particular was more than threefold longer. The researchers also found that patients with any neurologic symptoms tended to be younger than those without. "The fact that any neurologic manifestations as a whole were more likely to occur in younger people is surprising, and could potentially be explained by greater clinical emphasis on the risk of respiratory failure than other symptoms in older patients," the researchers wrote in their study. "In contrast, encephalopathy was more frequent in older patients."
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On October 7, 2020: Toccoa Elementary School Administration was notified of a staff member positive on 10/7/2020. All exposed students will follow Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home. 
Here is the Week of October 9, 2020 update:
4 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
6 staff members quarantined.
151 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 10/9/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand one hundred ninety-three (1,193) confirmed positive cases and forty-one (41) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,398
Positive Results Received: 1,114 (899 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,241
Pending Results: 43

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 3 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 3 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,178
Positive Results: 246
Negative Results: 1,924
Pending Results: 8
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 132
Positive Results: 26
Negative Results: 104
Pending Results: 18
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

 

October 8, 2020

 

1. Downtown Toccoa Scarecrow Parade
This doesn't have much to do with the coronavirus, but if you like scarecrows or have family members that do, come on downtown to the Historic Courthouse and check them out. I'm quite sure you will want to vote for your favorite economic development authority friends!  Here's the link: https://pollunit.com/polls/scarecrowwalk. The SCDA display is #202. Participants have one vote per name. Feel free to share this link far and wide and share our display number as well. Encourage your friends to vote for the SCDA scarecrows. Prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place! Voting is open through the month of October.
 
2. Gov. Brian Kemp urges Georgians to get a flu shot this year to avoid what's called a “twindemic”
In the first coronavirus briefing since August, Kemp and Dr. Kathleen Toomey, commissioner of the Department of Public Health, said Georgia is making great progress in battling the virus. New cases reported and hospitalizations are both down more than 60 percent from their peaks in July. But Toomey warned that an active flu season potentially could undo much of the work the state has done. 
Kemp said he is pleased with how Georgians have responded so far to public health guidelines for fighting the coronavirus. Among the statistics that Kemp cited:
Georgia ranks 34th among states in new cases per 100,000 population, according to the Wall Street Journal and Johns Hopkins University.
Hospitalizations are down 60 percent from the peak, with 1,287 people in hospitals today. That number represents just 9 percent of all hospital beds.
The two-week average of positive percentage cases is now 5.9 percent, down from 11.9 percent in early August. Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties, among the hardest hit metro counties, have positive percentage cases under 4 percent.
Kemp also said the state’s handling of the crisis has allowed the state’s economy to rebound relatively quickly. In the third quarter of 2020, Georgia added 10,000 new jobs, generating $371 billion in new investments. Kemp said that represents a 50 percent increase in jobs and an 85 percent increase in investments over the same period last year.
 
3. 5 questions that can help you spot misinformation
The social media team behind Steak-umm -- yes, the frozen meat company -- has been praised for its early efforts to fight online misinformation amid the coronavirus pandemic. But stories that tout miracle cures or downplay the severity of the virus persist, and it's important to know how to distinguish between fact and fiction. Epidemiologist Dr. Syra Madad recommends using the "5 Ws" to determine the validity of a story: ask yourself who is sharing the information, what they're offering, when the story is from, where the information comes from and why it's being shared now. Full Story: Business Insider (10/5),  The Hill (10/1),  PhysOrg (10/1),  The Wire (India) (10/5)
 
4. Holiday shopping season kicks off earlier than ever
Retailers including Macy's, Target and Best Buy are rolling out Black Friday-style deals this month and NRF has launched a campaign to encourage consumers to shop early and avoid crowded stores in the year of COVID-19. Merchants are also encouraging early online shopping to keep from swamping shippers and facing last-minute delays. Full Story: The Associated Press (10/5)
Full Story: TechRepublic (9/29)

5. Rent collections for strip mall REITs approaching 90%
Rent collections for strip shopping center REITs are drawing closer to 90% and will keep improving through the rest of 2020, according to BTIG. Essential retailers, such as grocery stores, have helped to drive rent collections and stabilize properties. Full Story: GlobeSt (free registration) (10/1)
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On October 7, 2020: Toccoa Elementary School Administration was notified of a staff member positive on 10/7/2020. All exposed students will follow Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home.
Here is the Week of October 2, 2020 update:
4 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
2 staff members quarantined.
121 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/25/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand one hundred fifty-one (1,151) confirmed positive cases and thirty-eight (38) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,175
Positive Results Received: 1,041 (830 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,116
Pending Results: 18

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 3 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 4 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,178
Positive Results: 246
Negative Results: 1,924
Pending Results: 8
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 132
Positive Results: 26
Negative Results: 104
Pending Results: 18
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

 

October 7, 2020

1. Downtown Toccoa Scarecrow Parade
This doesn't have much to do with the coronavirus, but if you like scarecrows or have family members that do, come on downtown to the Historic Courthouse and check them out. I'm quite sure you will want to vote for your favorite economic development authority friends! The SCDA display is #202. Here's the link: https://pollunit.com/polls/scarecrowwalk. Participants have one vote per name. Feel free to share this link far and wide and share our number as well. Encourage your friends to vote for the SCDA scarecrows. Prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place! Voting is open for the month of October.
 
 
2. CDC again updates guidance to say Covid-19 can spread by airborne transmission
According to a CNN article in the Gwinnett Daily Post,the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has again updated its guidance how Covid-19 spreads to include information about potential for airborne transmission. "CDC continues to believe, based on current science, that people are more likely to become infected the longer and closer they are to a person with COVID-19," the agency said in a statement on Monday. "Today's update acknowledges the existence of some published reports showing limited, uncommon circumstances where people with COVID-19 infected others who were more than 6 feet away or shortly after the COVID-19-positive person left an area. In these instances, transmission occurred in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces that often involved activities that caused heavier breathing, like singing or exercise. Such environments and activities may contribute to the buildup of virus-carrying particles." Still, the available data suggest "it is much more common for the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread through close contact with a person who has COVID-19 than through airborne transmission," the new guidance says.

3. Q: What treatment is being given to President Trump?
A: (
Provided by Washington Post writers.)
On Friday, White House physician Sean Conley said Trump's doctors gave him a single eight-gram infusion of an experimental drug made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. The drug is essentially an antibody treatment, and its goal is to keep people from becoming seriously ill by providing backup to the body's immune system. Regeneron said the still unapproved experimental therapy was provided to Trump in response to 
a "compassionate use" request from his physicians. The drug is being tested in a late-stage clinical trial, the company said in a statement. Fewer than 10 people have received this treatment under the “compassionate use” program, The Post reports. Around 2,000 people in total have received it amid the company's trial. Scientists are hopeful that this antibody treatment will be a game-changer as we wait for the development of an effective and safe vaccine. Regeneron announced Tuesday that its drug appeared to knock back the virus, Johnson reported, reducing levels and relieving symptoms when given to people recently diagnosed with covid-19 who weren’t in the hospital — particularly in people whose bodies had not mounted a robust immune response. Additionally, Conley said the president was also given dexamethasone, a steroid that we have reported on as a covid-19 treatment. Steroids are sometimes used to reduce the body's natural immune response in severe viral infections, because the inflammation in itself can be harmful.

4. Clorox Wipes Are Still the Hard-to-Find Pandemic Item
According to this article in The New York Times, most shoppers these days are able to routinely buy common household items like toilet paper, paper towels, pasta and beans that had been in short supply in the early weeks of the pandemic, when consumers were loading up their pantries. But Clorox wipes remain stubbornly elusive. “We know our products are not everywhere everyone wants them to be,” said Andy Mowery, who, as Clorox’s chief supply officer, is in charge of figuring out how to make more wipes. “It’s a point of personal frustration for me.”
With cleanliness on the minds of many guarding against the virus, the wipes have become the pandemic version of the must-have toy of the holiday season. Across social media, shoppers share where and when to find wipes made by Clorox, or Lysol — which is owned by Reckitt Benckiser Group — or wipes from other brands. (Only Clorox and a handful of other wipes have been approved by regulators to kill coronavirus.) Shoppers show up to stores early when deliveries are made and clear out shipments in a matter of minutes.
All of the hullabaloo around its disinfecting wipes has been a strange turn of events for Clorox, which started making and selling liquid bleach as a household cleaning product back in 1916, and presents a big challenge for Linda Rendle, a 17-year veteran of the company who took over as its chief executive officer in mid-September. The company said it was struggling because demand for the wipes had surged 500 percent in the last few months. After increasing production, Clorox is making one million canisters of disinfecting wipes each day. (Executives wouldn’t say how that compared with before the pandemic.) It plans to further increase production early next year. Before the pandemic, Clorox — which also makes Glad trash bags, Kingsford charcoal and Pine Sol cleaner — told Wall Street analysts that, at best, the company would see a 1 percent increase in sales for its fiscal year 2020.
 
5. What 12,000 Employees Have to Say About the Future of Remote Work
Here are excerpts from a recent Boston Consulting Group survey of more than 12,000 professionals employed before and during COVID-19 in the US, Germany, and India. The respondents work in roles such as analysts, engineers, HR personnel, teachers, and health care providers (but generally not in jobs performed onsite such as cashiers or assembly line workers). We explored their attitudes toward flexibility, productivity (on individual, collaborative, and managerial tasks), well-being, career security, social connectivity, culture, learning and development, and the work tools they use. It’s now clear that business as usual will be different in the world of work. But if, as our survey suggests, employee productivity is possible at the height of the pandemic with little to no training or preparation, some of the new ways of working could be continued in the post-COVID-19 world. Understanding the drivers of productivity in this new environment and designing appropriate, sustainable working models are crucial to the success of work—both today and tomorrow.
THE PRODUCTIVITY QUESTION
While this is a subjective productivity indicator, the data is still striking. Some 75% of employees said that during the first few months of the pandemic they have been able to maintain or improve productivity on their individual tasks (such as analyzing data, writing presentations, and executing administrative tasks). On collaborative tasks (including exchanges with coworkers, working in teams, and interacting with clients), the number is lower. But even so, more than half—51%—of all respondents said they have been able to maintain or improve their productivity on collaborative tasks. What’s more, this applies across geographic areas as well as to both remote employees and those who have remained mostly onsite—indicating that changes to the ways of working are having an impact across the board. We found four factors that correlate with employee perceptions of their productivity on collaborative tasks, whether working remotely or onsite: social connectivity, mental health, physical health, and workplace tools. An impressive 79% of respondents who indicated they are satisfied or doing better on all four of these factors said they have been able to maintain or improve productivity on collaborative tasks.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR EMPLOYERS
Our findings suggest that the future of work will be increasingly hybrid. And this presents both challenges and opportunities: to reimagine the entire employee experience and to create conditions that allow employees to thrive in the workplace of the future—one that will be far less office centric. This means developing new hybrid working models that enable employees to move seamlessly between onsite and remote work, as well as thinking about the appropriate physical space—both size and shape—for the hybrid office.
WINNERS IN THE NEW REALITY
This crisis has presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent the workplace. Things that might once have seemed impossible have proved surprisingly workable. With collaborative productivity essential to innovation, the changes will enable companies to become more competitive. And given employee desires for flexibility, the changes will also allow companies to recruit and retain the best talent. Moreover, focusing on well-being and social connectivity will serve another important purpose: helping employees to recover faster from what, for so many people, has been a traumatic, painful, and stressful period. And that is not only good for business—it is good for people.
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On October 5, 2020: Toccoa Elementary School Administration was notified of two students who tested positive on 10/5/2020. All exposed student's parents have been notified. All exposed students will follow Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home.
Here is the Week of October 2, 2020 update:
4 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
2 staff members quarantined.
121 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/25/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand one hundred forty-two (1,142) confirmed positive cases and thirty-eight (38) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,175
Positive Results Received: 1,041 (830 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,116
Pending Results: 18

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 3 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 4 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,178
Positive Results: 246
Negative Results: 1,924
Pending Results: 8
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 132
Positive Results: 26
Negative Results: 104
Pending Results: 18
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

 

October 6, 2020

1. Gov. Kemp Announces $113 Million in CARES Act Funding to Support Georgia Nursing Homes
Last Friday, Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp announced $113 million in CARES Act Coronavirus Relief funds would be available to Georgia nursing homes and long-term care facilities for increased state-supported staffing and COVID-19 response, including $78 million in additional funding for nursing home staff testing. "My top priority from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic has been to ensure the health and safety of our most vulnerable citizens," said Governor Kemp. "Early on, Georgia was among the first states in the nation to deploy National Guard personnel to conduct infection control missions in long term care facilities, with over 1,000 visits completed. The state also supplied tens of thousands of testing materials, sent additional staffing to facilities in need, provided infection control equipment, and shipped critical PPE items across the state. He went on to say, "As Georgia continues to see cases, current hospitalizations, deaths, and test positivity rates all decline, we must remain vigilant. This funding will prioritize the health, safety, and quality of life of our state's most vulnerable citizens, and allow our state to continue moving in the right direction in our fight against COVID-19."

2. Retail was changing – but Covid-19 is making it unrecognizable
According to this Bizjournal 
articleIf you’re looking for signs of a full economic recovery down the line, look to retail. During fall and winter, retailers benefit immensely as consumer spending shoots up dramatically. This year, however, may be different. Accounting giant BDO came out with its first-half 2020 retail bankruptcies and store closures report just a few days ago, and the numbers reflect similar patterns as it did in 2010 – when the country was in the middle of the Great Recession. It is true that the virtual environment has been profitable for certain retailers such as electronics and computer equipment and service vendors, but it has rocked the apparel, hotel, restaurant industry and almost every consumer-facing shop. From January through mid-August, BDO estimates there have been more store closing announcements than the entire 12 months in 2019. BDO mentions research group eMarketer’s projections of a 10.5 percent decline in retail sales in 2020, with bricks-and-mortar sales decreasing 14 percent. But eMarketer also notes that e-commerce sales will increase by 18 percent in 2020, offsetting some of the bricks-and-mortar losses. The downstream effect on retail is going to be felt by state and local governments across the country that collect the sales taxes. That, in turn, will have a ripple effect on funding schools, colleges, police and health care services. For a full economic recovery – look at retail. If retail comes back, so does the country.

3. PPP Loan Forgiveness Has Been Slow In Coming
According to this Biznow article, Millions of businesses, including small and midsized real estate operations, are still on the hook for the money they received from the Paycheck Protection Program. The law tasked the Small Business Administration with processing applications for loan forgiveness, but thus far the agency has been sluggish to move on the matter or to provide data to Congress about who has received the funding. As complaints by borrowers and the financial services companies that processed PPP loans have intensified, pressure has grown on the SBA to start forgiving the loans. In late September, the SBA said that it would.
 
4. 5 Covid-19 financial considerations for a strong 2020 outcome
This GBQ sponsored content in Columbus Business First offers five financial consideration:
1. Cash conservation
Now is an ideal time to recover cash for current operations by searching for cash overpayments, generating tax credits and recovering tax refunds. Explore the opportunities that exist within various business asset recovery strategies.
2. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgiveness and application process
With all of the positive changes made to the PPP, most businesses should be able to achieve full forgiveness. Avoid leaving loan forgiveness on the table and establish an efficient process with your lender.
3. Estate planning opportunities
While lower company values may make business owners less interested in selling their businesses in the near term, lower values are attractive to those who instead wish to gift equity in their businesses to family or others (either permanently, or in advance of a future sale). That is because wealth transfers above a specific level, known as the estate tax lifetime exemption, are subject to estate taxes.
4. Growth through acquisition
Companies that have fared well and adapted quickly will take advantage of the opportunity to invest in those that find themselves in need of capital or new management strength. Whether the goal is to grow, diversify, add intellectual property and human resources or expand geographically, deals in this environment will likely occur for reasons including:
- Financial implications.
- Exposed weaknesses best solved with new capital and new management input.
- Having something unique to offer to interested parties.
- Baby boomers finding themselves ready to transition.
5. Tax planning implications and forgiveness impact
Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs continue to provide significant relief and liquidity to business owners, but provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act should not be overlooked, including current and retroactive tax law changes that will generate cash back through tax refunds, tax credits and loans. Provisions to make note of include:
- Qualified improvement property (QIP) technical correction.
- Net operating loss (NOL) provisions.
- Excess business loss limitations.
- Changes to interest expense limitations.
- Employee retention credit
- Employer payroll tax payment deferral.
- Retirement fund withdrawals.
In addition, it will be important to evaluate your tax planning strategy for those businesses with PPP loans as the forgiveness aspect becomes taxable to you due to the non-deductibility of forgiven expenses and the year of impact. Many are hoping legislation is introduced to alleviate this tax burden — or, at minimum, clarify the timing and application of these rules.
Please discuss any of these issues with your own finance professionals.

5. And finally ...
This may not be the most pressing COVID-19 concern, but as this National Observer 
article reports, on the typical restaurant pizza, no single ingredient costs as much as the cheese. So, what does a pizzeria do when the cost of cheese swings from the lowest price in decades to the highest on record in a matter of weeks, as it did this spring and summer? “You pretty much have to eat it,” said Bob Stupka, president and chief financial officer of Davanni’s Inc., a Minneapolis-St. Paul restaurant chain that specializes in pizzas and hot hoagies. Stupka has been with Davanni’s more than four decades. He talked to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal about how the once slow-moving cheese market has experienced what he called “volatility on steroids” since the start of the pandemic — and how that’s impacted entrepreneurs for whom cheese is a key ingredient to success. He points out that the ride might not be over. “Until we are done with the political cycle this year, and until we have seen more predictability regarding the economy and the health situation, I think cheese is going to remain a highly volatile market,” he said.
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On October 4, 2020: Over the weekend Stephen County Middle School Administration was notified that a student received a positive test. All exposed students' parents have been notified. All exposed students will follow the Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home.
On October 4, 2020: Over the weekend Liberty Elementary Administration was notified that they had a positive staff member. All exposed students' parents have been notified. All exposed students will follow the Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home.
Here is the Week of October 2, 2020 update:
4 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
2 staff members quarantined.
121 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/25/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand one hundred twenty-nine (1,129) confirmed positive cases and thirty-eight (38) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,175
Positive Results Received: 1,041 (830 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,116
Pending Results: 18

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 3 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 4 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,178
Positive Results: 246
Negative Results: 1,924
Pending Results: 8
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 132
Positive Results: 26
Negative Results: 104
Pending Results: 18
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

 

October 5, 2020

1. Georgia first-time unemployment claims resume decline
Initial unemployment claims in Georgia declined last week, resuming a downward trend that began two months ago, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday. Since March 21, when Georgia businesses began shutting down to discourage the spread of coronavirus, nearly 3.8 million Georgians have filed initial unemployment claims, more than during the last eight years combined. Last week, the agency issued $669 million in benefits, mostly through the Lost Wages Assistance federal program President Donald Trump launched in August after Congress failed to extend an earlier program that expired at the end of July. Since March 21, the accommodation and food services job sector has accounted for the most first-time unemployment claims in Georgia with 906,985. The health-care and social assistance job sector is next with 438,821 claims, followed by retail trade with 402,299.
 
2. U.S. Representatives Introduce Bill to Encourage Faster COVID Test Results
According to this article in WIRED, Representatives Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Suzan DelBene (WA-1), and Terri Sewell (AL-7) today introduced the Strictly Pay for Efficient and Expedited Delivery of Your (SPEEDY) COVID-19 Tests Act, which will encourage commercial testing labs to streamline COVID-19 PCR testing notification operations to help patients get their results sooner. The SPEEDY COVID-19 PCR Tests Act rewards labs that provide swift test results and creates an incentive for underperforming labs to improve their test results times. Currently, labs that process tests are paid a flat rate ($100) regardless of how quickly they return results.This bill adjusts Medicare reimbursement rates depending on how quickly labs provide results. Labs that return results within 24 hours receive a 25 percent increase to $125 in the Medicare reimbursement rate. Those that provide results within 48 hours will receive the standard Medicare rate ($100) , and those that return results in a slower timeframe will receive less funding for the tests ($51). Labs will receive no reimbursement for tests returned after 72 hours. The bill also includes safeguards to prevent manipulation. To ensure labs do not discard tests they cannot complete within 72 hours, the bill requires labs to complete any test they receive within 28 days or lose the ability to be reimbursed by Medicaid. The legislation also provides an additional 36 hours per category for labs serving rural or medically underserved areas. As with any bill introduced in a divided Congress a month before Election Day, the prospects for the SPEEDY Act to become law are uncertain. Sherrill’s two cosponsors, Suzan DelBene of Washington and Terri Sewell of Alabama, are fellow Democrats. But she’s optimistic that she can pick up broad support, and anxious to improve testing before the winter months bring a potentially devastating new virus surge. Click here for the Press Release from Sherrill's office.
 
3. Loss of smell could be a 'highly reliable indicator' of Covid-19
As this 
article in the Gwinnett Daily Post states, loss of smell and taste are a strong sign that someone is infected with the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 -- and in some cases it may occur without the other symptoms of cough or fever, according to new research published last Thursday. The researchers, based in the United Kingdom, wrote in their study that people who lose either smell or taste should consider self-isolating, even if they have no other symptoms. The team studied 590 volunteers who experienced a new loss of smell or taste, and they tested 567 of them for Covid-19. Among those 567 people who were tested, 77.6% tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies. In total, 80.4% of participants reporting smell loss and 77.8% of those reporting taste loss had a positive test result, the researchers reported in the journal PLOS Medicine. About 40% of those who tested positive for antibodies had neither a fever nor a cough. Batterham and her colleagues also found that participants with loss of smell alone were nearly three times more likely than patients with just a loss of taste to have Covid-19 antibodies, and participants with a combined loss of smell and taste were four times more likely to have antibodies. Overall, the loss of smell -- called anosmia -- emerged early on in the pandemic as a possible Covid-19 symptom. In May, it was added to the official list of coronavirus symptoms in the United Kingdom, the Department of Health and Social Care announced.

4. PPP forgiveness rulings expected soon
This Business Journal 
article reports businesses are expected to start receiving forgiveness decisions on the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program loan applications this week. A spokesperson for the Treasury Department confirmed the timing, reported Wednesday by Nation’s Restaurant News. The SBA, the federal agency that oversaw the Covid-19 relief program, is responsible for approving forgiveness applications. PPP borrowers have until 10 months after their covered period expires to apply for loan forgiveness. Lenders have 60 days after receiving a complete application to issue a decision to the SBA. The agency then has 90 days to render its own determination. In recent months, legislators have considered the potential to automatically forgive loans of a certain size. They also continue to discuss methods to make additional PPP loans available.
 
5. Mercedes-Benz Stadium to use sanitizing drones for cleaning
According to this article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the downtown Atlanta venue, which is home to the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United, has teamed up with Lucid Drone Technologies Inc. to clean the $1.5 billion stadium amid the pandemic. The Charlotte-based startup has designed drones that will sanitize key areas of the building after games as parent company AMB Sports and Entertainment prepares to host a limited number of fans during the Falcons’ home game against the Carolina Panthers on October 11, 2020. Stadium officials say that the drones have been designed to treat the large facility and will provide a 95% reduction in time spent cleaning the seating bowl. The drones will clean the bowl, handrails and glass partitions. The drones come equipped with electrostatic spraying nozzles to distribute the disinfecting chemicals and stick to surfaces without leaving a residue.  

6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On October 4, 2020:
 Over the weekend Stephen County Middle School Administration was notified that a student received a positive test. All exposed students' parents have been notified. All exposed students will follow the Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home.
On October 4, 2020: Over the weekend Liberty Elementary Administration was notified that they had a positive staff member. All exposed students' parents have been notified. All exposed students will follow the Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home.
On October 1, 2020: Liberty Administration was notified in the evening that a student tested positive on 10/01/2020. All exposed student's parents have been notified. All exposed students will follow Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home.
On October 1 , 2020: Toccoa Elementary was notified that a student tested positive on 10/01/2020. All exposed student's parents were notified. All exposed students will follow the Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home.
On September 30, 2020: Stephens County High School administration was noticed after school that a student tested positive on 09/30/2020. All exposed students were notified. All exposed students will follow the Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home.
Here is the Week of October 2, 2020 update:
4 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
2 staff members quarantined.
121 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 10/02/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand one hundred twenty-three (1,123) confirmed positive cases and thirty-eight (38) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,175
Positive Results Received: 1,041 (830 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,116
Pending Results: 18

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 3 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 4 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,178
Positive Results: 246
Negative Results: 1,924
Pending Results: 8
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 106
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 95
Pending Results: 6
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

 

October 2, 2020

1. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp Extends COVID-19 Restrictions
Governor Brian Kemp has signed Executive Order 09.24.30.01, extending current COVID-19 restrictions and the public health state of emergency. The new Executive Order took effect yesterday October 1 at 12:00 AM and runs through October 15 at 11:59 p.m. The Public Health State of Emergency is extended until November 9, 2020. 
Only minimal changes were made to the orders, including just one relaxed restriction for restaurants and bars. Now, employees may return to work once they have been symptom-free for 24 hours following a positive or suspected COVID-19 diagnosis. Previous executive orders required three days. To see the press release with a link to the Executive Order, click here
 
2. Results from LinkedIn’s latest Workforce Confidence Index. 
Here are some of the findings from the report:
- 39% of workers across the U.S. expect their company policies to support flexible work post-pandemic, blending both onsite and remote options.
- A third of professionals in the retail industry expect hiring to pick up in the coming weeks — likely a result of retailers ramping up for the holiday season — making it the most confident industry when it comes to new job openings.
- Workers at small firms are reporting feeling less concerned about workplace safety issues, such as sanitization and exposure to others, than they were in June and July.
- Among unemployed job seekers in the U.S., pivoting to a different industry or function seems to be the most popular approach to finding new work, while relocation is a less likely option.
 
3. Laboratory-made Antibody Update
A Washing Post 
article reports on an experimental antibody cocktail being developed in New York that could become the first covid-19 treatment able to keep patients out of the hospital. The catch, the WP health desk writes, is that even if it's approved it will be expensive and scarce.  

4. Georgia Power ends pandemic moratorium on collecting bill payments
This 
article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Georgia Power’s moratorium on disconnecting homes for non-payment has ended, but its special payment option program continues. Beginning this month, 132,000 customers of the state’s dominant power company must begin paying down past-due balances that built up during the economic distress caused by the pandemic. Last March, Georgia’s Public Service Commission backed and later extended Georgia Power’s decision to halt disconnecting customers. Later, the PSC lifted the moratorium, effective July 15. But even with the moratorium over, Georgia Power shut-off electricity to just over 40,000 customers from mid-July through August, say company reports. August’s number was about 25% higher than for a typical month. Most of those cut off didn’t jump into the special payment option, which the company aggressively publicized. Typically, customers don’t face disconnections until they are at least 60 days behind on what they owe. Under the repayment program Georgia Power put in place, customers have six months — until March — to pay the entire amount. They won’t have to pay late fees. In typical times, the company only offers installment plans on a case-by-case basis, and it said they are usually for far shorter periods.

5. How consumer behavior will change post-pandemic
The shift to e-commerce during the pandemic is not likely permanent, as most consumers will eventually adopt a hybrid strategy of shopping online and in-store, according to research by consumer analytics firm Boobook. This shift indicates retailers with strong e-commerce capabilities will emerge in a stronger position, writes Nicole Huyghe, Boobook founder. Full Story: Candy & Snack Today (9/30)
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On September 29, 2020: Stephens County Middle School was notified that a student tested positive on 09/29/2020. All exposed students and staff were notified. All exposed students will follow the Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home.  
Here is the Week of September 25, 2020 update:
2 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
3 staff members quarantined.
32 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/25/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand ninety-four (1,094) confirmed positive cases and thirty-eight (38) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,175
Positive Results Received: 1,041 (830 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,116
Pending Results: 18

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 3 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 4 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,126
Positive Results: 239
Negative Results: 1,880
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.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 106
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 95
Pending Results: 6
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

 

October 1, 2020

1. Pelosi and Mnuchin collaborate in the hopes of passing a skinnier stimulus bill
A Wall Street Journal 
article reports House Democrats’ new, less expensive $2.2 trillion aid package may come up for a vote as soon as this week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have spoken at length in the hope of reaching a deal for coronavirus relief. The new bill, as drafted, includes another round of $1,200 direct checks to taxpayers, plus $500 per dependent, and would extend the Paycheck Protection Program.

2. A 15-minute Covid-19 test is approved for commercial use in Europe
A Bloomberg.com 
article states a Covid-19 antigen test that returns results in 15 minutes was approved for use in Europe. The test is portable and can be done at the point of care. It should be commercially available in participating countries by the end of the month. It was granted emergency use authorization in the States in July, but the FDA recommends that negative results be confirmed by another, more precise testing method. Now its Becton Dickinson and Co.'s manufacturer says a new clinical study affirming its accuracy has been submitted to the FDA for review.

3. Here's how to stay safe as the pandemic continues
This article in the Gwinnett Daily Post reminds us Fall was always going to be a difficult period of the pandemic. The season coincides with the onslaught of the flu and other respiratory infections that, when coupled with coronavirus, can overwhelm the healthcare system and our own immune systems. Here's some advice for staying safe and coronavirus-free this fall.
Get your flu shot. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests getting your flu shot by the end of October.
Stay warm outside. Invest in ways to keep gatherings outdoors, even when it's chilly, be it a fire pit, a warm coat or a heat lamp. This keeps meetings in a safer locale and helps prevent social isolation, too.
You don't always have to wear a mask outside, but you should wear a mask around others.
If you travel, cut down on exposure, cut down on your cumulative risk.
Create alternate holiday plans. 
Trick-or-treating or gathering for a communal meal come with risks during the pandemic. Consider less risky fun.
If you can, vote by mail. The safest way to vote during the pandemic is to mail in your ballot.
If voting in-person, vote early. Polling places are typically less crowded ahead of Election Day.
Learn as much about your polling place as you can before you go - location and times to vote.
Bring the essentials. Wear a mask, bring hand sanitizer, be conscious of what you touch and the distance you keep from others.

4. HBR: How to build rapport … while wearing a mask

This Atlanta Business Chronicle article in conjunction with the Harvard Business Review emphasizes how important nonverbal communication is in the workplace. This makes communication in the age of Covid-19 more challenging for the obvious reason that masks, a necessary component of fighting the pandemic, hide the microexpressions we unconsciously use to convey as well as perceive sincerity, trustworthiness and good intentions.
Here are some tips for communicating effectively and building rapport while still doing your part to keep everyone safe:
1. AVOID CLEAR MASKS: Some people find clear masks unsettling, and they also tend to fog up.
2. PRACTICE YOUR ‘MASK VOICE’: There are research-backed ways to make our voices more effective when wearing a mask:
— PAUSE: Normally, visual cues of the mouth help us see when a speaker is pausing for a response. Noticeably pause here and there to give people opportunities to jump in.
— ACCENTUATE: Avoid monotony by accentuating key phrases and information.
— SPEAK UP: Masks have a muffling effect, so speak up (but don’t shout).
— CONVEY EMOTION: In appropriate moments, try to make your voice more expressive by conveying positive emotions like excitement and sympathy.
3. PRACTICE ACTIVE LISTENING: When your conversation partner is speaking, show interest by nodding and making sounds of understanding like “Mm hmm.” If the speaker expresses emotions, especially negative ones, paraphrasing can be a powerful way to affirm their feelings.
4. USE GESTURES AND BODY LANGUAGE: Try to make full use of gestures while speaking to convey meaning and emotion. Since we can’t shake hands, a friendly wave can help convey goodwill.
5. MIRROR YOUR COUNTERPART: Mirroring is a nonverbal behavior that involves imitating the body language of a person you’re interacting with. Studies show that it helps build rapport between individuals. Just don’t overdo it.
6. KEEP TOES AND TORSO ALIGNED: During interactions, your feet have a natural tendency to reveal what’s going on in your mind. If you’re in a meeting and feeling hungry, your toes might start pointing at the door. This can be subconsciously interpreted as a lack of interest, so keep your toes and torso aligned and facing the person you’re speaking with.
7. SMILE WITH YOUR EYES: Research shows that smiles with eyes that look angry, fearful, sad or neutral are perceived as not happy and, therefore, not indicative of friendliness. If you want to create positive feelings, make sure your eyes are smiling too.

5. Grocers Stockpile, Build ‘Pandemic Pallets’ Ahead of Winter
According to this Wall Street Journal 
article, grocery stores and food companies are preparing for a possible surge in sales amid a new rise in Covid-19 cases and the impending holiday rush. 
Supermarkets are stockpiling groceries and storing them early to prepare for the fall and winter months, when some health experts warn the country could see another widespread outbreak of virus cases and new restrictions. Food companies are accelerating production of their most popular items, and leaders across the industry are saying they won’t be caught unprepared.
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On September 29, 2020: 
Stephens County Middle School was notified that a student tested positive on 09/29/2020. All exposed students and staff were notified. All exposed students will follow the Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home.  
Here is the Week of September 25, 2020 update:
2 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
3 staff members quarantined.
32 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/25/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand eighty-three (1,083) confirmed positive cases and thirty-eight (38) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,175
Positive Results Received: 1,041 (830 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,116
Pending Results: 18

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 3 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 4 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,126
Positive Results: 239
Negative Results: 1,880
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.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 106
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 95
Pending Results: 6
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.
 
 

 

September 30, 2020

 

1. UGA economist says state jobs recovery surprisingly strong
According to this Athens Banner-Herald OnlineAthens article Georgia’s job numbers are still significantly down from a year ago, but the state has recovered about half the jobs that vanished with the COVID-19 shutdown this spring, according to University of Georgia economic forecaster Jeff Humphreys. “I’m impressed. I did not expect the recovery to be that strong,” said Humphreys, the director of the Simon S. Selig Jr. Center for Economic Growth in UGA’s Terry College of Business.
The spring shutdown plunged the state and U.S. economies into recession with unprecedented speed. Georgia’s unemployment rate quadrupled in two months, from 3.1% in February to 12.6% in April. But in August, the Georgia Department of Labor released its preliminary August 2020 Labor Force, Employment and Unemployment statistics for Stephens County. We have 10,425 Stephens Countians in the Labor Force, 9,877 of them are Employed and 548 of them are Unemployed resulting in an Unemployment Rate of 5.30%. The Georgia Unemployment Rate is 5.6% and the U.S. rate is 8.4%.  
 
2. Is your leadership strategy coronavirus-ready?
The events of 2020 have forced leaders in every industry to reevaluate their leadership strategies amid workplace shutdowns, spikes (or slumps) in demand, and new challenges facing their companies and their teams. Tactics used by grief management experts that can help leaders more effectively support their teams include resisting platitudes, actively listening to feedback and bringing staff together in a shared community space. Full Story: Fast Company online (9/28), Forbes (9/24)
 
3. How to practice empathy in a crisis
As the world reaches the grim milestone of more than 1 million coronavirus fatalities, empathy is a critical skill for pandemic-era leaders -- and the rest of us as well. A lack of empathy is what leads us to dismiss risks and problems we feel only apply to others (like minority communities and the elderly, or in the case of leaders, staff members) as unimportant. Exercises that increase empathy can not only increase your understanding of others' experiences, but help prepare you for future challenges as well. Full Story: Harvard Business Review online (tiered subscription model) (9/28),  The Atlantic (tiered subscription model) (9/22),  Psychology Today (9/27)

4. With New Coronavirus Cases Slowing in Atlanta, Region’s Job Gains Are Rebounding
This report from Costar states Atlanta has added back roughly 60% of all jobs lost following the coronavirus pandemic, according to the most recent jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The most recent gains put the region back at early-2018 employment levels. With new coronavirus cases and hospitalization rates declining towards safer numbers, job growth is once again picking back up. 
As for the impact of these jobs figures on the commercial real estate industry, notable trends are emerging among the four main property types in Atlanta. The Atlanta apartment market has improved recently. Net absorption has rebounded to near record levels, and rent growth continues to outpace the national average.
While not devastated by the downturn initially, the area's office sector is starting to feel the effects of the pandemic. Leasing activity remains at low levels in the suburbs and in-town locations. While there are still plenty of large office users set to take big blocks of space in the coming quarters, the slowdown in leasing activity will likely cause vacancies to tick higher in the near term.
Perhaps the most insulated property type so far is the industrial sector. E-commerce giants such as Amazon, Walmart and various third-party logistics firms continue to lease large blocks of space across the region as consumer behavior adapts. The increase in demand can be seen from the trade, transportation and utilities sector’s most recent job numbers.
Atlanta’s retail market may be the most at-risk during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Despite the absence of new supply, limited consumer spending may keep leasing activity by retailers and restaurants at a minimum. Additionally, national retailers are closing locations across Atlanta, pushing up vacancies and causing a deceleration in market rent growth.

 
5. 3 ways to motivate your team through an extended crisis
This Harvard Business Review article reminds us that as we begin yet another month of our large-scale Covid-19 remote-work experiment, motivation, performance and well-being are flagging for many. Using a well-established theory of motivation called self-determination theory, or SDT, the authors have identified three main psychological needs that leaders can meet to help their employees stay engaged, confident and motivated.
RELATEDNESS
Employees need to feel cared for; this will help them feel like they belong. As a leader, make time to listen to your direct reports’ perspectives and make them know they’re heard and valued.
— Acknowledge and validate your employees’ emotions as well as their reactions. (“I know it can be tough to stay focused right now, but we’ll figure it out together!”)
— Don’t let people get lost in the crowd: Reduce team size and acknowledge each member’s work and achievements.
— When problems arise, get full feedback from those involved. This helps you identify the biggest issues and obstacles, while strengthening connection and encouraging communication.
— Communicate that you care about employees’ well-being, not just their productivity.
COMPETENCE
Employees need to feel effective and experience growth. Research shows that holding employees accountable for achievable goals can improve performance, and motivational science also suggests that trust begets trust.
— Involve your employees in decisions where their input could be valuable. Asking for suggestions can inspire a sense of empowerment, progress and ownership.
— To demonstrate their mastery of a particular task or skill, ask employees to explain to their colleagues what they’re working on or why they chose a particular strategy.
— Set up check-ins to regularly discuss progress on individual goals and create strategies to meet them.
AUTONOMY
Effective leaders foster internal motivation by empowering employees to make independent choices that align with their values, goals and interests, as well as their team’s.
— Encourage self-initiation and participation. Perhaps ask, “What part of this project can you see yourself leading?”
— Avoid controlling language (“Get this to me by tomorrow!”) and minimize coercive controls like unrealistic deadlines and constant monitoring of your employees. Instead, motivate your employees through encouragement and positive feedback.
— Be transparent by providing the rationale behind demands. People are more willing to put in their full effort when they understand why a task is important.

 
6. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Chicken-Que
Our Annual Chamber Chicken-Q is this Friday. Contact samantha@visittoccoa.com or call 706-886-2132 to order your $8 plates. If you purchase more than 10 plates, the chamber offers free delivery at your specified time and to your location. The delivery date is Friday, October 2, 2020Thank you for your participation in this excellent community event.
 
7. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On September 28, 2020: The Big A Elementary administration was notified that a student tested positive on 09/28/2020. All exposed students and staff were notified. All exposed students will follow the Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home.
Here is the Week of September 25, 2020 update:
2 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
3 staff members quarantined.
32 studentsquarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/25/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
8. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand sixty-four (1,064) confirmed positive cases and thirty-eight (38) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,175
Positive Results Received: 1,041 (830 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,116
Pending Results: 16

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 3 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 4 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,126
Positive Results: 239
Negative Results: 1,880
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.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 106
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 95
Pending Results: 6
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.
 
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.

 

September 29, 2020

. Researchers are learning more about the long-term impact of Covid-19
I read in a WIRED update, that as the pandemic progresses, researchers continue to better understand the mysterious consequences of Covid-19. Reddit threads, Facebook pages, and other online support groups have proliferated as a resource both for people recovering from the disease and the scientists trying to figure it out. Without the ability to open labs and collect data in person, even the most common symptoms have proven difficult to fully understand. For example, we still know very little about Covid-induced anosmia. Researchers have sent out surveys and created diagnostic tools to help patients track smelling loss, but there’s a lot that will be difficult to study until people can get in a room together.

2. The race for a vaccine continues at warp speed
According to WIRED's Adam Rogers, there was plenty of hopeful news last week related to the development of a safe vaccine. New research found that a century-old tuberculosis shot could help protect against Covid-19, though more research is underway and won’t be completed until early 2021. Meanwhile, two more vaccines, from Novovax and Johnson & Johnson, entered Phase III trials. Unlike its competitors, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine doesn’t need to be frozen and only requires one dose, giving it a leg up. In all likelihood, there will eventually be several viable vaccines, all of which will be necessary in order to make sure everyone is protected worldwide.
 
3. Adapt Your Business to the New Reality
This article in the Harvard Business Review makes the point that it will be quite some time before we understand the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the history of such shocks tells us two things. First, even in severe economic downturns and recessions, some companies are able to gain advantage. Second, crises produce not just a plethora of temporary changes (mainly short-term shifts in demand) but also some lasting ones. 
Reassess Growth Opportunities
The Covid-19 pandemic has severely disrupted global consumption, forcing (and permitting) people to unlearn old habits and adopt new ones. Companies seeking to emerge from the crisis in a stronger position must develop a systematic understanding of changing habits. The first step is to map the potential ramifications of behavioral trends to identify specific products or business opportunities that will most likely grow or contract as a result.
How to Identify Growth Opportunities
The next step is to categorize demand shifts using a simple 2×2 matrix, on the basis of whether they are likely to be short-term or long-term and whether they were existing trends before the crisis or have emerged since it began. The four quadrants distinguish among boosts (temporary departures from existing trends), displacements (temporary new trends), catalysts (accelerations of existing trends), and innovations (new lasting trends). This framework can be used to highlight which trends to follow and which to shape more aggressively. Companies cannot pursue all possibilities and should not try to. To get an idea of which ones to back, ask yourself whether any shift in demand is temporary or permanent. 
Dive deep into the data.
Any analysis of growth opportunities must go well beyond a simple categorization of what you already know. You need to challenge your ideas about what’s happening in your traditional business domains by taking a fresh, careful look at the data. This requires that you actively seek out anomalies and surprises.
Take multiple perspectives.
In the military, a technique for discovering what you don’t know is to use the “eyes of the enemy.” Military leaders ask themselves, What is the enemy paying attention to? and then shift their own attention accordingly to illuminate potential blind spots and alternative perspectives. The same can be applied to industry mavericks and competitors: Who is doing well? What market segments are your rivals focused on? What products or services are they launching? The same principle can be extended to customers: Which ones are exhibiting new behaviors? Which have stayed loyal? What new crisis-induced needs do customers have, and what are they paying attention to? It can even be applied to countries: What patterns emerged in China, where both the outbreak and the recovery came ahead of those in Western nations? In your own organization, ask: Which workplace innovations are taking hold in leading firms? What new needs are employees responding to? What opportunities do they represent that could potentially be developed and rolled out more broadly?
Reconfigure Your Business Model
Armed with an understanding of where your opportunities lie, you can now move to the next step: shaping your business model to capture them. Ask basic questions about how you create and deliver value, who you’ll partner with, and who your customers will be. 
Can you take the value you offer online and which platforms should you work with?
The pandemic-induced shift to digital shopping has made customers and firms more dependent on big digital platforms, including Google, Amazon, and Apple in the West and Alibaba and Tencent in Asia, along with a newer group of aggressive rivals such as China’s Meituan, Russia’s Yandex, and Singapore’s Grab. Increasingly, a firm’s competitive space will be determined by the platform it works with.
Can you expand your customer niche?
Digitization provides scope for niche businesses to expand their markets, perhaps across borders or into adjacencies not currently well served. For the vast majority of companies, responding to demand shifts will involve at least some digital transformation—and probably a significant level of it. 
Reallocate Your Capital
It may be psychologically hard to do during a crisis, when cash flows are stressed, but now is precisely the time to take a few well-considered risks. Research shows that the most successful companies not only invest more than their peers in new opportunities but also put their eggs in fewer baskets, devoting more than 90% of net spending to segments with higher growth and returns. These companies recognize that a crisis offers an opportunity to carve out a new competitive position. Evaluate your capital investment projects along two dimensions: their estimated value tomorrow, after taking into account the impact of demand shifts, and the amount of money needed to keep them alive today in light of often constrained operational cash flows. 
CONCLUSION
In times of crisis, it’s easy for organizations to default to old habits—but those are often the times in which new approaches are most valuable. As companies position themselves for the new normal, they cannot afford to be constrained by traditional information sources, business models, and capital allocation behaviors. Instead they must highlight anomalies and challenge mental models, revamp their business models, and invest their capital dynamically to not only survive the crisis but also thrive in the post-crisis world.

4. How will Covid-19 collide with flu and cold season?
WIRED Science offers this answer: As more people start getting common colds and the seasonal flu, whose symptoms can resemble those of Covid-19, testing labs will likely be further strained. Hospitals, too, are preparing for the possibility that coronavirus and influenza will be taking up the same ER space and ventilator beds. And no one knows how these other viruses will interact with coronavirus. All this to say: Stay vigilant, and please, get a flu shot.  

 
5. Career Pathways Six-Question Survey
Today is the last day this link to a Career Pathways Employer SURVEY will be open. If you haven't already done so, please take a moment to fill it out. This will help us advise area school systems as to skills needed by area manufacturers.
 
6. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Chicken-Que
Our Annual Chamber Chicken-Q is this Friday. Contact samantha@visittoccoa.com or call 706-886-2132 to order your $8 plates. If you purchase more than 10 plates, the chamber offers free delivery at your specified time and to your location. The delivery date is Friday, October 2, 2020Thank you for your participation in this excellent community event.
 
7. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of September 25, 2020 update: 
2 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
3 staff members quarantined.
32 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/25/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
8. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand fifty-five (1,058) confirmed positive cases and thirty-eight (38) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,080
Positive Results Received: 1,008 (800 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,056
Pending Results: 16

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 2 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,126
Positive Results: 239
Negative Results: 1,880
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.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 106
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 95
Pending Results: 6
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.
 
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.

 

September 28, 2020

1. Walmart is using drones to deliver Covid-19 tests
At least if you live near its North Las Vegas, Nevada store. According to an article in the Gwinnett Daily Post, Walmart launched a pilot drone delivery program last week that will drop off Covid-19 tests to homes within a one-mile radius of the North Las Vegas store. Customers will receive a text from DroneUp when the Quest Diagnostics test is on its way. And depending on where there are cars and trees, the kits will land on people's driveways, front sidewalks or backyard. Delivery, which can take as little as five minutes, will be free. The samples can then be sent via FedEx to a Quest lab, which will send out results digitally.

The pilot program offers a glimpse into how drones could be used in the not-too-distant-future to provide faster and contactless delivery.For now, the vast majority of Americans will not have access to drone deliveries of Covid-19 tests. Walmart plans to expand the drone trial to Cheektowaga, New York -- just outside Buffalo -- in early October, but no other sites have been announced. And there are limitations to the program. Drone deliveries are only available "while supplies last," between 8:30 am and 3:30 pm and to single-family homes. And deliveries can be prevented by "unanticipated physical barriers, power lines, trees, cars or weather." To keep failed deliveries to a minimum, Quest Diagnostics said that delivery areas will be "surveyed in real time" beforehand.

2. FDA poised to announce tougher standards for a covid-19 vaccine
According to this Washington Post article the agency is issuing the guidance to boost transparency and public trust as it approaches the momentous decision of whether a prospective vaccine is safe and effective. The guidance, which is far more rigorous than what was used for emergency clearance of hydroxychloroquine or convalescent plasma, is an effort to shore up confidence. Under it, the FDA would ask manufacturers seeking an emergency authorization — a far quicker process than a formal approval — to follow participants in late-stage clinical trials for a median of at least two months, starting after they receive a second vaccine shot.
 
3.“Google updates Maps to show how bad Covid is in your areaIs
Google Maps will soon show how prevalent coronavirus is in geographic areas with a new color-coded update. Beginning last week, the Maps app now displays seven-day averages of new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people. The chosen areas will show if cases are increasing or decreasing and be shaded with one of six colors to signify how many new cases were reported. Google is pulling data from three sources: Johns Hopkins University, the New York Times, and Wikipedia. They receive their data from the World Health Organization and other public or government health organizations. Information is available for all 220 countries that Google Maps works in. The feature will soon be available on iOS and Android versions of Google Maps. To use it, open the app, press the layers button (two squares on top of each other) on the top right and press "Covid-19 Info" button. That will reveal the color-coded app showing case counts.
 
4. Q:  What is the probability of coming in contact with the virus and catching it in airports and during flights?
Here's a summary of the answer given by a reporter for The Washington Post.
A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigated 1,600 cases of people who flew while at risk of spreading the coronavirus, identifying nearly 11,000 passengers who potentially were exposed to the virus on flights. But though some of those people eventually fell ill, the agency was not able to confirm a single case of transmission on a plane. The CDC says in its guidance that viruses do not spread easily on planes because of the way the air is filtered, but the agency also emphasizes that air travel means being in proximity to people for long periods and encountering frequently touched surfaces. Some health officials say they consider exposure on planes a relatively minor risk. 
 
Kayleigh Blaney, an epidemiologist for Oakland County in the Detroit area, said she was not aware of any plane exposures turning into positive cases. “I’m exponentially more concerned with all the graduation parties, the fraternity and sorority parties happening on college campuses than I am with flying,” Blaney said, but nevertheless advised travelers to be vigilant about keeping masks on and understanding airlines' safety protocols. “A lot of it has to do with how safe you’re being while you’re flying."
 
5. Career Pathways Six-Question Survey
Last week I sent out a link to a Career Pathways Employer SURVEY, if you haven't already done so, please take a moment to fill it out. This will help us advise area school systems as to skills needed by area manufacturers.
 
6. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Chicken-Que
Our Annual Chamber Chicken-Q is this Friday. Contact samantha@visittoccoa.com or call 706-886-2132 to order your $8 plates. If you purchase more than 10 plates, the chamber offers free delivery at your specified time and to your location. The delivery date is Friday, October 2, 2020Thank you for your participation in this excellent community event.
 
7. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of September 18, 2020 update: 
2 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
3 staff members quarantined.
32 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/18/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
8. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand fifty-eight (1,058) confirmed positive cases and thirty-eight (38) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,080
Positive Results Received: 1,008 (800 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,056
Pending Results: 16

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 2 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,126
Positive Results: 239
Negative Results: 1,880
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.

NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 106
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 80
Pending Results: 5
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.
 
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.

 

September 25, 2020

1. How Contagious is COVID-19? 
A Brown University survey of U.S. schools found extremely low rates of infection among students and teachers since classes resumed. While it's still early in the semester, many schools remain closed and the data is not consistent across the country, the findings suggest that reopening classrooms may not be as risky as many scientists feared.
 
2. When will we see economic recovery?
A Business Roundtable survey of 149 members, including the chief executives of Apple and JPMorgan Chase, found that a quarter of the chief executives expect their businesses to have financially recovered before the end of the year.
 
3.“Is it worth investing in an air purifier?” 
That's the question asked by a Washington Post reader. Here's part of the answer he was given: 
Purifiers will never be a replacement for masks, but experts say they can help reduce the amount of virus in the air, particularly in high-traffic areas. Jose-Luis Jimenez, a chemistry professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder whose areas of expertise include aerosols, shared on Twitter what he considers effective solutions:
  1. filters on HVAC systems that have at least a MERV-13 rating
  2. HEPA filters on portable air purifiers (expensive)
  3. a fan-and-filter setup (very cheap)
Jimenez specifically discouraged the use of filters with oxidation, ions or ultraviolet technology. These can remove virus particles from the air, but they “can also produce toxic compounds,” he said. Air foggers in which bleach or other disinfectants are released are NOT recommended, not only because they are harmful but because they aren't very effective.

Claudia S. Miller, an immunologist and allergist at the University of Texas, told The Post that filtration is only effective to a certain degree. It's not going to remove every aerosol in the room, but it can reduce the chances that you'll inhale some of the virus. “It’s a probability game,” Miller said. “What is the probability that a viral particle from that person goes through this maybe very excellent filter before it reaches you? It’s not great.”
 
4. Career Pathways Six-Question Survey
Earlier this week I sent our area manufacturers a link to a Career Pathways Employer SURVEY, please take a moment to fill it out. This will help us advise area school systems as to skills needed by area manufacturers. Please find attached additional information on the regional workforce initiative.
 
5. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Chicken-Que
Our Annual Chamber Chicken-Q is next week Friday. Contact samantha@visittoccoa.com or call 706-886-2132 to order your $8 plates. If you purchase more than 10 plates, the chamber offers free delivery at your specified time and to your location. The delivery date is Friday, October 2, 2020Thank you for your participation in this excellent community event.
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of September 18, 2020 update: 
2 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
2 staff members quarantined.
13 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/18/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand thirty-nine (1,039) confirmed positive cases and thirty-six (36) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,080
Positive Results Received: 1,008 (800 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,056
Pending Results: 16

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 2 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,094
Positive Results: 230
Negative Results: 1,851
Pending Results: 13
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGTC Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 106
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 80
Pending Results: 5
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

 

September 24, 2020

1. Career Pathways Six-Question Survey
Earlier this week I sent our area manufacturers a link to a Career Pathways Employer SURVEY, please take a moment to fill it out. This will help us advise area school systems as to skills needed by area manufacturers. Please find attached additional information on the regional workforce initiative.
 
2. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Chicken-Que
Our Annual Chamber Chicken-Q is next week Friday. Contact samantha@visittoccoa.com or call 706-886-2132 to order your $8 plates. If you purchase more than 10 plates, the chamber offers free delivery at your specified time and to your location. The delivery date is Friday, October 2, 2020Thank you for your participation in this excellent community event.
 
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3. Q: Should we clean our cell phones daily?
A: Yes, that's a good idea because cell phones are basically "petri dishes in our pockets" when you think about how many surfaces you touch before touching your phone. "There's probably quite a lot of microorganisms on there, because you're holding them against your skin, you are handling them all the time, and also you're speaking into them," said Mark Fielder, a professor of medical microbiology at Kingston University. Watch the best ways to disinfect your cell phone here.

4. FDA expected to tighten vaccine approval guidelines to assuage Americans’ concerns
According to a Washington Post article, the FDA is expected to release new vaccine approval guidelines for emergency use authorization of a coronavirus vaccine as soon as this week. A recent survey found that 50 percent of Americans said they would get the vaccine today, compared to 72 percent in May. This move by the FDA is intended to assuage concerns about the safety and efficacy of a rapidly approved vaccine. The new guidelines will also make it difficult for a vaccine to be approved before Election Day.

5. Johnson & Johnson vaccine begins largest Phase III trials yet in the US
According to a New York Times article, Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine entered Phase III trials on Monday, September 21, 2020. It will be the largest of its kind in the US, with plans to enroll 60,000 participants. Unlike its competitors, this vaccine doesn’t need to be stored at subzero temperatures and may only require one dose. If it works, this could make it easier to inoculate large numbers of people very quickly.
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of September 18, 2020 update: 
2 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
2 staff members quarantined.
13 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/18/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand thirty (1,030) confirmed positive cases and thirty-six (36) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,080
Positive Results Received: 1,008 (800 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,056
Pending Results: 16

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 2 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,094
Positive Results: 230
Negative Results: 1,851
Pending Results: 13
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGTC Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 106
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 80
Pending Results: 5
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

 

September 23, 2020

1. SEVEN DAYS LEFT TO ORDER YOUR CHICKEN PLATES
Reserve your Chamber Chicken-Q tickets by emailing Samantha Rickman at samantha@visittoccoa.com or calling 706-886-2132. The deadline for ordering is September 30, 2020. If you purchase more than 10 plates, the chamber offers free delivery at your specified time to your location. The delivery date is Friday, October 2, 2020Thank you for your participation in this excellent community event.
 
image.png
 
A customer's idea led Charlotte, N.C.-based Power Breezer to modify its industrial fans and misters to also disperse disinfectant, which makes the fans useful for cleaning and ventilating large rooms. The company looked to federal guidelines for creating the disinfectant setup.
 Full Story: The Business Journals (tiered subscription model)/Charlotte, N.C. (9/11)
 
3. Can smart ceiling fans kill the coronavirus? Independent tests say 'yes'
According to a CNET article, the Haiku UV-C (which starts at about $1,750) from Kentucky-based manufacturer Big Ass Fans uses UV light to kill pathogens as it circulates air. Now safety scientists say that it's effective against COVID-19. The article concludes:  Don't expect to see a budget-friendly version of these fans anytime soon -- but don't be surprised if you end up seeing one spinning overhead while you're out and about, either.  

 
US manufacturers could be producing 100 million fast coronavirus tests each month by the end of 2020. These antigen tests will be less accurate than current tests but are designed to allow workplaces and schools to test quickly.
 Full Story: Reuters (9/17)
 
We're all grieving a loss of some kind amid the pandemic -- whether it's as small as the routine of going to the office or as significant as the death of a loved one. Leaders can facilitate a "path toward healing and recovery" by acknowledging and honoring loss and supporting those seeking new meaning to move forward. "To miss grief is to miss a vital part of leadership," says David Kessler, author of "Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief."
 Full Story: The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (9/17),  McKinsey (9/17)
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of September 18, 2020 update: 
2 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
2 staff members quarantined.
13 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/18/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand nineteen (1,019) confirmed positive cases and thirty-three (34) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,080
Positive Results Received: 1,008 (800 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,056
Pending Results: 16

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 2 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,094
Positive Results: 230
Negative Results: 1,851
Pending Results: 13
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGTC Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 106
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 80
Pending Results: 5
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.
 

September 22, 2020

1. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Chicken-Que
We have 9 days until our Annual Chamber Chicken-Q. I can't say they are "selling like hot cakes", because they are not hot cakes; but they are "flying out of" the chamber store! Help close the sale! Here again is the link to make your order online: https://cm.toccoagachamber.com/store/annual-chamber-chicken-bbq. If you purchase more than 10 plates, the chamber offers free delivery at your specified time and location. The delivery date is Friday, October 2, 2020Thank you for your participation in this excellent community event.
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2. A century-old TB vaccine shows some promise for fending off Covid-19
According to an article in WIRED SCIENCE, research has found that an old tuberculosis vaccine for newborns protected people over 65 against viral respiratory infections. Some scientists say this suggests that the shot creates a "trained" innate immune response that rewires the immune system to ward off multiple diseases. Now there's hope that this vaccine could also protect against Covid-19, and there are at least 20 randomized clinical trials underway.
 
3. Fewer trips but bigger baskets emerge as pandemic trend
As the pandemic enters its sixth full month, US shoppers are making fewer grocery runs but buying more when they do go to the store, new research from Catalina shows. The company's study found that in August, people made 11% fewer trips to the grocer than they did in 2019, but spent an average of 6% more during each visit.  Full Story: Progressive Grocer (9/16),  Supermarket News (free registration) (9/16) 
 
4. Pine-Sol cleaner has been approved to kill coronavirus on hard surfaces
According to a Gwinnett Daily Post article, Pine-Sol's original cleaner has been approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a product that can kill the coronavirus on frequently used surfaces. The product was added to the agency's list of products expected to kill the virus after meeting the criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, an EPA spokeswoman told CNN via email on Sunday, September 20, 2020. Pine-Sol was tested by a third-party laboratory that showed the disinfectant can kill the virus within 10 minutes of being used on hard, nonporous surfaces, The Clorox Company said in a press release. "With a long-standing history of being a powerful cleaner and disinfectant, and a trusted brand choice, Pine-Sol Original Multi-Surface Cleaner now offers the clean families have trusted through generations with the protection they need right now against the spread of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19," said Chris Hyder, vice president and general manager of The Clorox Company's cleaning division. To disinfect against coronavirus, the company said customers should apply full-strength Pine-Sol with a clean sponge or cloth on a surface, wait 10 minutes, then rinse. For heavily soiled surfaces, the company said precleaning to remove excess dirt first is required. One important fact to note, however: Handwashing with soap and water is still the best way to prevent transmission of the virus, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 
5. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of September 18, 2020 update: 
2 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
2 staff members quarantined.
13 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/18/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand seventeen (1,017) confirmed positive cases and thirty-three (33) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,026
Positive Results Received: 989 (785 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,005
Pending Results: 32

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 1 patient hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who is positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,094
Positive Results: 230
Negative Results: 1,851
Pending Results: 13
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGTC Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 106
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 80
Pending Results: 5
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

 

September 21, 2020

1. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Chicken-Que
I saw a promotion by Bosch Power Tools. They are recognizing Essential Workers for doing their essential duties. You might want to recognize your Essential Workers by taking advantage of this chicken-que opportunity! Here again is the link to make your order online: https://cm.toccoagachamber.com/store/annual-chamber-chicken-bbqTime is running out, don't delay any longer for ordering Currahee Military Weekend Chicken-Que. If you purchase more than 10 plates, the chamber offers free delivery at your specified time and location. The delivery date is Friday, October 2, 2020Thank you for your participation in this excellent community event.
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2. GMRC Relief Funding Available
I have mentioned this previously, but the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission (GMRC) is pleased to announce that they have been awarded supplemental funding from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) through the CARES Act for Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) funding. GMRC received $2,101,000 in funding, of which $1.9 million will be reserved for loaning to businesses in 13 counties, including Stephens County. Applicants must be able to attest as to how they have been impacted by COVID-19. Please see the attached flyer for more details, as well as the application.
 
3. CDC updates, again, guidelines on testing people without coronavirus symptoms
As this article in the Gwinnett Daily Post states The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website has updated, yet again, guidelines for testing people who do not have symptoms of coronavirus. The new language rolls back controversial changes made to the site last month. It once again stresses that anyone who has been in contact with an infected person should be tested for coronavirus. "Testing is recommended for all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Because of the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, it is important that contacts of individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection be quickly identified and tested," the site now reads. The guidance notes that even if people do not have symptoms, they still need a test if they have been in close contact -- such as within 6 feet -- of a person with coronavirus infection for at least 15 minutes.
 
4. SEC announces football game rescheduling, cancellation policies for COVID-19 issues
I know this is not manufacturing, but this is a good indication of the willingness and ability of folks to return to normal endeavors. According to this article in the Gwinnett Daily Post the Southeastern Conference announced last Friday its policies and parameters for football game cancellations, rescheduling of games and no-contest declarations for the 2020 season as the SEC continues to monitor developments related to COVID-19.

To play a football game, the SEC has established minimum thresholds of at least 53 scholarship players available to participate and the following minimum number of position scholarship players available to begin a game: seven (7) offensive linemen (which includes one center), one (1) quarterback and four (4) defensive linemen. The impacted institution has the option to play the game with fewer than the 53 scholarship players or fewer than the minimum number of position players listed above if it elects to do so. Otherwise, upon approval by the Commissioner, the game would be rescheduled or declared a no contest.

In addition, should an institution determine there are compelling reasons why it cannot begin a contest regardless of the scholarship and position minimums above, the institution may request to have the game rescheduled or, if the game cannot be rescheduled, for the game to be considered a no contest by presenting data (including total number of players not available to participate) outlining reasons why the game should not be played as scheduled. The final decision to reschedule or declare the game a no contest is vested only with the Commissioner.

The 2020 SEC football season is slated to begin September 26 and is comprised of a 10-game Conference-only schedule, with the SEC Football Championship Game to be played December 19 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, rescheduled from the original date of December 5. The schedule includes one mid-season open date for each school and an open date on December 12 for all schools.
 
5. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of September 18, 2020 update: 
2 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
2 staff members quarantined.
13 students quarantined at home.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/18/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of one thousand (1,000) confirmed positive cases and thirty-three (33) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,026
Positive Results Received: 989 (785 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,005
Pending Results: 32

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 1 patient hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who is positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,039
Positive Results: 213
Negative Results: 1,818
Pending Results: 8
These numbers are still from last week. I hope to be able to update them tomorrow.
NGTC Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Tuesdays their statistics
Tests Completed: 95
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 57
Pending Results: 17
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

 

September 18, 2020

 

1. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Chicken-Que
Make your order online: https://cm.toccoagachamber.com/store/annual-chamber-chicken-bbq or call 706-886-2132.  Remember if you purchase more than 10 plates, the chamber offers free delivery at your specified time and location. Thank you for your participation in this excellent community event.
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2. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class
Leadership Toccoa-Stephens County, sponsored by the Toccoa-Stephens County

Chamber of Commerce, is actively recruiting participants for this coming year’s

program. This class provides existing and emerging business leaders with unique

opportunities to enhance their civic knowledge of Stephens County, to sharpen

their leadership skills and to connect with leaders from across the community. Class

members must live, work, or attend school in Stephens County at the time they

submit their application. Tuition for the program is $250.00 which is due

before the first class.
 Classes begin January

2021. The deadline to submit an application is October 1, 2020. Here’s the link:

http://toccoagachamber.com/leadershipprogram.


3. Trump health officials prepare to distribute coronavirus vaccine within 24 hours of OK from FDA
The U.S. government plans to transport a coronavirus vaccine to U.S. distribution sites within 24 hours after the FDA grants an emergency authorization or approval, according to senior administration officials. The CDC outlined a sweeping plan this week to make vaccines for Covid-19 available for free to all Americans. The U.S. government plans to transport a coronavirus vaccine to distribution sites across the U.S. within 24 hours after the Food and Drug Administration grants an emergency authorization or approval, senior administration officials said Wednesday. The vaccine will initially be very limited and will likely go to those most in need, such as health-care workers,
 the elderly, and people with underlying health conditions. Essential workers, teachers and people in homeless shelters as well as people in prisons would be next on the list, followed by children and young adults. When larger quantities of vaccine become available, the CDC said, there will be two simultaneous objectives: to provide widespread access to vaccination and to ensure high uptake in target populations, particularly those who are at high risk of death or complications from Covid-19.
The U.S. government will determine the amount of vaccine designated to each state or region. The states will then be responsible for managing and approving orders from enrolled providers within their jurisdiction using this allotment, the CDC said. Supplies, such as needles and syringes, will be automatically ordered in amounts to match vaccine orders. Americans will not be charged for the vaccine or its distribution, the CDC said. Additionally, various plans, supported by the CARES Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, are under development to ensure no American will be charged out-of-pocket expenses for the administration of the vaccine, the agency said.
The strategy document also says an information campaign led by HHS public affairs "will focus on vaccine safety and efficacy, and target key populations and communities to ensure maximum vaccine acceptance." It goes on to say, "Identifying the right messages to promote vaccine confidence, countering misinformation, and targeting outreach to vulnerable and at-risk populations will be necessary to achieve high coverage."

4. More than half of businesses that closed during the pandemic won't reopen
According to new data from Yelp, about 60% of businesses that have closed during the coronavirus pandemic will never reopen, and restaurants have suffered the most. The reviews site has been keeping tabs on closures since March. Businesses can update their status to temporarily or permanently closed on Yelp.
As of August 31, nearly 163,700 businesses on Yelp have closed since March 1, the company said, marking a 23% increase from July 10. Of those, about 98,000 say they've shut their doors for good. Of all closed businesses, about 32,100 are restaurants, and close to 19,600, or about 61%, have closed permanently. According to Yelp, some eateries have fared better than others: Pizzerias, delis, food trucks, bakeries and coffee shop have done better overall than Mexican restaurants, breakfast and brunch spots, burger or sandwich shops or eateries that focus on dessert.
This week, the National Restaurant Association said that 100,000 restaurants have closed either permanently or long-term, adding that the sector is on track to lose $240 billion in sales this year. A number of factors have made it especially difficult for restaurants, which tend to operate on razor-thin margins even in the best of times, to make it through the disruption. First, consumers are spending less on dining out, according to the association. Some people may feel unsafe eating at restaurants at this time. According to a recent study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults who tested positive for Covid-19 were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant in the 14 days before becoming ill than those who tested negative. Meanwhile, restaurant owners have had to invest in new items like personal protective equipment for staff, outdoor seating, plexiglass dividers for indoor spaces and new tech for contactless payment. And fewer customers are allowed in restaurants themselves. Regions that allow indoor dining have placed caps on seating capacity so customers and staff can abide by social distancing rules. 
Retail operators are also struggling. About 30,400 shopping and retail establishments on Yelp have closed since March 1, about 17,500, or 58% of them permanently. And cities have been hit particularly hard, according to the data. Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Miami have all seen especially high numbers of businesses permanently cease operations.

5. Why unemployment claims may be overcounted by millions
According to a New York Times article 
since the start of the pandemic federal data on the unemployment insurance system has been plagued by errors, double counting and other issues. And even after the initial flood of layoffs slowed, the problems have only grown in recent weeks, in part because of an apparent spike in fraudulent claims for benefits. The biggest problems appear to involve Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program created by Congress in March to cover freelancers, self-employed workers and others who are left out of the regular unemployment system. Federal data implies that nearly 15 million Americans are now receiving benefits under the program, but some economists believe that overstates the true number by millions. The counting issues don’t change the broad contours of the crisis: By any measure, millions of Americans are relying on unemployment benefits to buy groceries and pay rent. But they do make it harder to answer basic questions about how quickly the economy is improving and how successful government programs have been at mitigating the damage. 
The United States doesn’t have an unemployment insurance system. It has 53 systems, one for each state plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Each operates independently, with its own rules and procedures, subject to policies set at the federal level. State unemployment offices report data to the U.S. Labor Department, which compiles the numbers into a weekly report. One number in that report, known as “continuing claims,” counts filings of people who have previously filed for benefits and have remained unemployed since the previous week. That figure is often treated by economists as an estimate of the number of people receiving unemployment benefits. But that isn’t actually what it measures, at least not directly. It counts applications, not all of which are approved. And rather than counting the number of individuals applying for benefits, it counts the total number of weeks of benefits they apply for.
That distinction doesn’t matter much in normal times, when most people apply for benefits on a weekly basis and are quickly approved. But because benefits are paid retroactively, if there are delays processing applications, people can end up applying for multiple weeks of benefits at once, skewing the continuing-claims number.The good news is that there is little evidence that the recent increase in unemployment claims, particularly in the pandemic program, reflects a real-world increase in the rate of job losses. While layoffs are continuing, most public and private data sources show a gradual improvement in the labor market. But those same sources suggest that progress has slowed in recent weeks, and that the absolute level of joblessness remains high. Here's a link to the full article, however it is behind a paywall: 
https://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news/2020/09/17/why-unemployment-claims-may-be-overcounted.html?ana=e_me_prem&j=90528714&t=Morning&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWldOaU4yUTVNamcwTmpZNSIsInQiOiIwaVhDZUlyeEYxc0NrYkpFS2NpSDdNT0dEdFA1b25NcEp5NFRWMXdaandlYlhMYlRqVTZBeGpPYmxWTzlndThBQkFaMmp3ejJSNUcybVFEMmNqdzV0aXhaWHBZYW1ieDJHdUJVcXVMM3d4VUEwNXpPajdQZk1Lcml2ZW5kbFwvMmoifQ%3D%3D. 
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of September 11, 2020 update: 
3 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
31 students quarantined at home.
3 staff members quarantined.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/04/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of nine hundred fifty-three (953) confirmed positive cases and thirty-two (32) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,048
Positive Results Received: 992 (788 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,025
Pending Results: 31

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 2 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,039
Positive Results: 213
Negative Results: 1,818
Pending Results: 8
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGTC Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 95
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 57
Pending Results: 17
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

 

September 17, 2020

1. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Chicken-Que
Another way folks are taking advantage of this chicken-que opportunity is to buy some plates for their business clients. Maybe you have a partnership with another business in town and would like to share lunch with them, well you can! Here again is the link to make your order online: https://cm.toccoagachamber.com/store/annual-chamber-chicken-bbq. 
Time is running out for ordering Currahee Military Weekend Chicken-Que. Friday, October 2, 2020 so act todayRemember if you purchase more than 10 plates, the chamber offers free delivery at your specified time and location. Thank you for your participation in this excellent community event.
 
2. Gov. Brian Kemp reopens Georgia elderly-care facilities
Effective at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 15, 2020, Gov. Brian Kemp lifted restrictions on elderly long-term care facilities that have been in effect in Georgia since the coronavirus pandemic hit the state in March. 
The new Executive Order runs through September 30 at 11:59 p.m. Nursing homes, personal-care homes, assisted-living communities, hospices and other elderly-care facilities are now allowed to reopen subject to continuing measures aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19. Under Kemp’s Executive Order 09.15.20.01, elderly-care facilities will be allowed to reopen by progressing through three phases, the third phase being the least restrictive. Decisions on which phase to implement at any given time must be based on considerations including the number of coronavirus cases in the local community or inside the facility, access to personal protective equipment (PPE), whether a facility’s staffing is adequate and hospital capacity in the local community.Under the Phase I restrictions, visitation to an elderly-care facility will not be allowed in most instances. Non-medically necessary trips should be avoided, while screening of residents and staff will be conducted three times daily under both phases 1 and 2. Visitation will be allowed under phases 2 and 3, with outside visits preferred. Limited non-medically necessary trips also will be permitted under the second and third phases. Screening of residents and staff will only be required once a day under Phase 3. The elderly-care facilities order will remain in effect until the conclusion of the public health state of emergency Kemp declared in Georgia back in mid-March. To read the press release and review the Executive Order, click here.
 
3. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger Unveils New Online Absentee Ballot Request Portal
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger recently unveiled a new online portal to make it easier for Georgia voters to request absentee ballots for the November elections. Georgia voters with a driver’s license or state ID card will now be able to request an absentee ballot entirely online. Access the full press release here.

 

4. How to Make Rational Decisions in the Face of Uncertainty
We’re all used to operating with a degree of uncertainty, but between the Covid pandemic and a contentious election year, 2020 is shaping up to be even more unpredictable than usual. When we feel such heightened uncertainty, our decision-making processes can break down, and we may act based on bias, emotion, and intuition instead of logic and fact.  The author of this Harvard Business Review article (https://hbr.org/2020/08/how-to-make-rational-decisions-in-the-face-of-uncertainty) offers a four-step framework to pause and assess ambiguous data:
1) Identify which data you’re working with.There are three main kinds of data we often confront and feel compelled to act on: salient data, which captures our attention because it is noteworthy or surprising; contextual data, which has a frame that may impact how we interpret it; and patterned data, which appears to have a regular, intelligible, and meaningful form.
2) Recognize which cognitive biases might accompany that data. Different kinds of data trigger different biases, so identifying the data type and its related bias makes it easier to escape mental mistakes. Salient data can activate salience bias, in which we overweight new or noteworthy information, resulting in suboptimal decision-making, planning errors, and more. Contextual data can constrict our thinking and lead to a framing bias: The context in which we receive the data impacts how we think about it. Patterned data often prompts the clustering illusion — also known in sports and gambling as the “hot hand fallacy” — whereby we assume that random events are information that will help us predict a future event.
3) Invert the problem to identify what you really need to know. Identify what matters most to your decision-making. To do that, invert your problem solving. Begin at the end, asking: So what? What do I really need to know to understand the situation? What difference would this information make? And how do I expect to use it?
4) Formulate the right questions to get the answers you need. One useful and practical way to move forward is to organize your questions into four main categories: behavior, opinion, feeling, and knowledge. Behavior questions address what someone does or has done and will yield descriptions of actual experiences, activities, and actions. Opinion questions tackle what someone thinks about a topic, action, or event. They can get at people’s goals, intentions, desires, and values. Feeling questions ask how someone responds emotionally to a topic. They can help you get beyond factual information to learn what people may be inclined to do regardless of the data. Knowledge questions explore what factual information the respondent has about your topic. While some may argue that all knowledge is a set of beliefs, knowledge questions assess what the person being questioned considers to be factual. 
 
5. Breathalyzer tests for Covid-19 are being developed at several US labs
Researchers are exploring using breathalyzers to test for Covid-19. Breath analysis can be complicated: The air we exhale can contain particles of much more than just the sicknesses we carry. But if this works, it could be a quick, noninvasive alternative to the tests already in use. With disposable mouthpieces, this method of testing would also be easy to deploy wherever, whenever, and without specialized training.
 
6. Survey: Foot traffic, shopping times increase
Foot traffic and time spent shopping at major grocers has rebounded after sharp drops in both metrics when the outbreak began, new data from Placer.ai shows. The report indicated that Albertsons, Kroger, Publix and Trader Joe's all recorded year-over-year increases in visits during August, and Whole Foods Market, which saw a drop in foot traffic last month from August 2019, notched an increase in its store visit rate. Full Story: Grocery Dive (9/14)
 
7. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of September 11, 2020 update: 
3 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
31 students quarantined at home.
3 staff members quarantined.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/04/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
8. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of nine hundred forty-two (942) confirmed positive cases and thirty-two (32) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 5,026
Positive Results Received: 989 (785 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 4,005
Pending Results: 32

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 1 patient hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who is positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,039
Positive Results: 213
Negative Results: 1,818
Pending Results: 8
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGTC Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 95
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 57
Pending Results: 17
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.
 
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.
 

 

September 16, 2020

1. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Chicken-Que
The clock is tickin' and we're going to run out of chicken!
Time is running out for ordering Currahee Military Weekend Chicken-Que. Friday, October 2, 2020 will be here before you know it. 
Don't miss out on sharing these BBQ Chicken Plates with your staff, make your order today!
The Chamber has created an easy way to order...ONLINE ORDERING...just click this link: https://cm.toccoagachamber.com/store/annual-chamber-chicken-bbq and it will take you straight to the Chamber Store to place your order. Customers can designate how many plates, and if they purchase more than 10, the chamber offers free delivery at their specified time.
Another way you can assist is to help assemble the plates at The Hope Center located at 158 South Broad Street. The Chamber is seeking volunteers to help cook, assemble, distribute and deliver. They typically deliver over 700 plates to our local business community. If you would like to help, call Samantha Rickman at 706-886-2132.
Thank you for your participation in this excellent community event.

2. Trump Signed Most Favored Nation Executive Order for Drug Prices
President Trump signed an executive order on Sunday, September 13, 2020, part of his administration's ongoing efforts to lower drug prices for Americans. The president's "most favored nation" order seeks to lower the prices for prescription drugs and biologicals paid for through Medicare Part B by tying prices to those paid in developed countries. Critics of the order argue that it's a mistake to pin the cost of prescription drugs to foreign countries that utilize price controls and have distorted drug markets.
Specifically, the order pairs the drug prices to the lowest price paid by a member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with a per-capita gross domestic product that is comparable to the U.S. OECD is an international group consisting of 36 member states, including Canada, Sweden, the U.K., France, and Norway. American taxpayers, the order argues, should insist on paying the lowest price at which drugmakers sell the same drugs to other developed nations. As noted in The Hill, President Trump signed four Executive Orders back in July regarding drug prices. The president has held off on implementing the most favored nation clause in an effort to allow the pharmaceutical industry time to develop its own proposal to bring down the cost of prescription drugs.

3. Good news on the COVID front
This item by Rob Jenkins in the Gwinnett Daily Post mentions some good news: 
The CDC noted last week that only about 6 percent of reported COVID deaths are actually attributable to the virus alone. The other 94 percent had an average of 2.6 “comorbidities” — other serious medical conditions, like diabetes, heart disease, or respiratory ailments — with a median age of about 80. That doesn’t mean younger people never die of COVID. Nor does it mean that, among the 94 percent, the disease was not responsible for many deaths. Plenty of those folks might have lived for years, despite their other health problems, if not for COVID. What it does mean, however, is that while COVID poses a grave threat to people in certain high-risk categories, it’s not particularly dangerous to everyone else. That’s good news.
Another bit of good news involves the return of college students to campuses across the country. According to Dr. Andrew Bostom, after analyzing over 11,000 reported “cases” at 18 large universities, he could find only one confirmed report of a student being hospitalized. Even in that instance, it’s not clear COVID is the culprit. Both hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline.
And finally, based on a new study, researchers at UCLA and Stanford have concluded that COVID may be up to 10 times LESS deadly than originally thought — even for older people. As reported by the San Jose (CA) Mercury News, “The study found that a 50-64-year-old person who has a single random contact has, on average, a 1 in 852,000 chance of being hospitalized or a 1 in 19.1 million chance of dying.”

4. Have you heard of the Three COVID-19 W's?
Wash your hands often. 
Wear masks as appropriate. 
Watch your distance from others.

5. Tips for avoiding burnout, managing parental stress
As many parents are working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, parental responsibilities are adding to the stress in some households, so CEO of the Stress and Resilience Institute Paula Davis-Laack has some strategies for families to reduce stress. Don't be too hard on yourself to avoid burnout and look for coping strategies like stepping outside, having a small dance party, exercising or anything else that makes sense for you and take a break when needed, she advises. Full Story: Forbes (9/10)
 
6. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of September 11, 2020 update: 
3 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
31 students quarantined at home.
3 staff members quarantined.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/04/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of nine hundred thirty-three (933) confirmed positive cases and thirty-two (32) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 4,975
Positive Results Received: 982 (780 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,966
Pending Results: 27

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 4 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 5 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,039
Positive Results: 213
Negative Results: 1,818
Pending Results: 8
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGTC Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 95
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 57
Pending Results: 17
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

September 15, 2020

1. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Chicken-Que
The clock is tickin' and we're going to run out of chicken!
Time is running out for ordering Currahee Military Weekend Chicken-Que. Friday, October 2, 2020 will be here before you know it. 
Don't miss out on sharing these BBQ Chicken Plates with your staff, make your order today!
The Chamber has created an easy way to order...ONLINE ORDERING...just click this link: https://cm.toccoagachamber.com/store/annual-chamber-chicken-bbq and it will take you straight to the Chamber Store to place your order. Customers can designate how many plates, and if they purchase more than 10, the chamber offers free delivery at their specified time.
Another way you can assist is to help assemble the plates at The Hope Center located at 158 South Broad Street. The Chamber is seeking volunteers to help cook, assemble, distribute and deliver. They typically deliver over 700 plates to our local business community. If you would like to help, call Samantha Rickman at 706-886-2132.
Again, let me thank you for your participation in this excellent community event.

2. Fauci warns Americans not to underestimate the pandemic as we enter fall
As flu season approaches, no one knows exactly what that will mean for Covid-19—including Dr. Anthony Fauci. But the director of the NIAID recently warned that it would be a mistake to underestimate this pandemic even as many states press ahead with reopening. “We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter, because it’s not going to be easy,” he said. To that advice I would add, make sure you get your flu shot!
 
3. Colleges show little patience or mercy for violators of COVID-19 policies
According to an Atlanta Business Chronicle article examples of hardline disciplinary action are mounting in all corners of higher education as colleges and universities race to contain the sort of coronarvirus outbreaks now crippling some campuses. The enforcement wave is considered a matter of survival for many schools, as Covid-19's spread threatens much of the core revenue needed to keep them financially afloat. Unfortunately for many of America's notoriously free-spirited co-eds, the coronavirus guardrails on campus are proving too difficult to navigate. Punishments have varied in severity, depending on the school. For example, some schools have issued suspensions without refunds, while others threaten expulsions requiring students to reapply for admission. Others still have issued little more than disciplinary warnings. Most schools have leaned on existing disciplinary bodies or established special student-faculty councils to adjudicate cases where students are accused of Covid-19 policy violations. Colleges and universities are taking varied approaches to ensure students follow Covid-19 protocols, particularly when it comes to hosting and attending large gatherings and parties. Most institutions have posted coronavirus guidelines online and in messaging to students through email and in signage on campus. Many also asked students to sign pledges to follow public health guidelines before returning to campus.

 
4. Find the Missing Pieces in Your Employee-Engagement Effort
An IndustryWeek article reminds us it's not about providing motivation; it's about providing good management. Most workers come motivated. They come wanting to do a good job. They come ready to make it better. So what happens? In a sentence: We, managers and leaders, get in the way of their desires. Consider applying the five key elements listed here:
A sense of meaningfulness: Can your employees see that their contributions are not only necessary but significant? That their ideas are considered? Or are they just another fungible piece of easily replaced hardware?  
A sense of control: Do your workers have some way to get input into the things they can affect and the things they should affect? Do they have ways to control what and how they do things, or are they just following the instructions some engineer wrote from his desk away from the production floor?  
A sense of accomplishment: Do your workers have ways to determine whether they have done a good job? Can they go home knowing they did well?  
A sense of growth: Do your workers have a way to contribute and grow as individuals? Can they improve their skills via cross-training and advancement? Is there a conscious effort to create future opportunities, or does your company supply no sense of hope for the future of the individual?  
A sense of community: Do your employees have a true sense of teamwork at work? Do your employees have reason to proudly wear the company logo on their shirts?  

What can managers do to feed the five key elements? Four suggestions cover most of the ground needed:
Create and live -- and I mean live -- your company mission and vision. Ask yourself: Is this a mission and vision that I would want on my tombstone to represent me and the type of company I work for?
Create goals, and metrics for those goals, that properly reflect all of the vision and mission. Make sure the goals are aligned and focused throughout the organization. 
Provide the support needed at each level so everyone can contribute to the execution of the goals and, hence, the mission and the vision. This includes providing clear work instructions, training in those instructions and the other resources to accomplish the goals.
Make the goals and metrics transparent at the floor level with the use of visual management tools. With such tools, everyone is clear on what is required and how we're doing right now. Find someone doing something right and recognize that accomplishment.
It's all about the management. The rest is just details.
 
5. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On September 2, 2020: 
The Toccoa Elementary administration was notified that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. All exposed staff members were notified and sent home. All exposed and positive staff will follow the Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home.
On September 2, 2020: The Stephens County Middle School administration was notified that a teacher/coach tested positive for COVID-19. Following the Georgia Department of Public Health instructions this person will quarantine at home. The September 3, 2020 football game was cancelled as precautionary action to protect the football players and staff. The administration is working to reschedule the game.
Here is the Week of September 11, 2020 update: 
3 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
31 students quarantined at home.
3 staff members quarantined.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/04/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of nine hundred twenty-seven (927) confirmed positive cases and thirty-one (31) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 4,975
Positive Results Received: 982 (780 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,966
Pending Results: 27

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 4 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 5 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,039
Positive Results: 213
Negative Results: 1,818
Pending Results: 8
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGTC Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 95
Positive Results: 21
Negative Results: 57
Pending Results: 17
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic MedAcess data only on Tuesdays 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.

 

 

September 14, 2020

1. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Chicken-Que
Thank you for taking advantage of this opportunity to both encourage your employees and support our local chamber at the same time. This Currahee Military Weekend Chicken-Que scheduled for Friday, October 2, 2020 is very tasty and popular. 1000...ONE THOUSAND...BBQ Chicken Plates sounds like a big number, and it is, but don't delay any longer, make your order today!
The Chamber has created an easy way to order...ONLINE ORDERING...just click this link: 
https://cm.toccoagachamber.com/store/annual-chamber-chicken-bbq and it will take you straight to the Chamber Store to place your order. Customers can designate how many plates, and if they purchase more than 10, the chamber offers free delivery at their specified time.
Another way you can assist is to help assemble the plates at The Hope Center located at 158 South Broad Street. The Chamber is seeking volunteers to help cook, assemble, distribute and deliver. They typically deliver over 700 plates to our local business community. If you would like to help, call Samantha Rickman at 706-886-2132.
Again, let me thank you for your participation in this excellent community event. 
 
2. Grand jury proceedings to resume in Georgia
According to a Capitol Beat News Service article, Court proceedings in Georgia will start back toward some semblance of normalcy under an order issued last week by Chief Justice Harold Melton. The order authorizes grand jury proceedings to resume immediately, even though jury trials are still suspended. Melton’s order extends until Oct. 10 the statewide judicial emergency he first declared back in mid-March, as the state virtually shut down to discourage the spread of coronavirus. Thursday’s was the sixth 30-day extension of that original order. While jury trials remain on hold, Melton indicated he intends to order trials to resume when he issues the next 30-day extension next month. “As explained in the last extension order, this broad prohibition cannot continue, even if the pandemic continues,” the chief justice wrote in his order. “The criminal justice system, in particular, must have some capacity to resolve cases by indictment and trial.”  
 
3. Georgia Agency collecting weekly reports on COVID-19 cases statewide
According to an AJC article, Georgia is now gathering a weekly snapshot of coronavirus infections in public schools as part of the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Although schools have been sharing case counts and other information with public health officials, this is the first effort to establish a uniform report for all 180 school districts. The directions ask that information from every school be sent to the state health agency by 5 p.m. each Friday. The reports, which started Aug. 28, will allow the Georgia Department of Public Health to monitor the spread of the disease within each school, helping to identify effective prevention and control measures, spokeswoman Nancy Nydam explained. Schools already had to report much of this information to district health officials (there are 18 such districts), but this new call for reporting will allow the state to harvest other information, such as mitigation strategies used.

4. Georgia touts promising trends in COVID-19 fight 
An article in the Gwinnett Daily Post tells of state public health officials highlighting promising downward trends in the COVID-19 pandemic following Labor Day weekend in Georgia as researchers race to evaluate potential vaccines. Since early last week, Georgia’s overall virus transmission rate has fallen by more than double digits. The seven-day average positivity rate – a key marker for assessing the virus’ spread – has dropped from 10.1% to 8.9% over the past roughly two weeks, according to the state agency. Hospitalizations from coronavirus have also decreased since the start of September, though health experts have warned data on mortality and intensive-care visits typically lag by days or even weeks after outbreaks.
 
5. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On September 2, 2020: 
The Toccoa Elementary administration was notified that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. All exposed staff members were notified and sent home. All exposed and positive staff will follow the Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home.
On September 2, 2020: The Stephens County Middle School administration was notified that a teacher/coach tested positive for COVID-19. Following the Georgia Department of Public Health instructions this person will quarantine at home. The September 3, 2020 football game was cancelled as precautionary action to protect the football players and staff. The administration is working to reschedule the game.
Here is the Week of September 4, 2020 update: 
3 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
31 students quarantined at home.
3 staff members quarantined.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/11/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of nine hundred twenty-two (922) confirmed positive cases and thirty-one (31) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 4,975
Positive Results Received: 982 (780 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,966
Pending Results: 27

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 2 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 2,039
Positive Results: 213
Negative Results: 1,818
Pending Results: 8
I'm updating the NGPG Toccoa Clinic data only on Mondays as the numbers are not changing much on a daily basis.

NGTC Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 77
Positive Results: 18
Negative Results: 52
Pending Results: 7
 
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.

 

 

September 11, 2020

1. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Chicken-Que
I'm still encouraging our local companies to show appreciation to their employees and support our local chamber by purchasing chicken-que plates. As you know, many of the Currahee Military Weekend events have been cancelled this year due to the pandemic. However, the chamber is still cookin' chicken on Friday, October 2, 2020. They will have 1000...ONE THOUSAND...BBQ Chicken Plates to sell! THEY NEED YOUR HELP!!
They have created an easy way to order...ONLINE ORDERING...just click this link: 
https://cm.toccoagachamber.com/store/annual-chamber-chicken-bbq and it will take you straight to the Chamber Store to place your order. Customers can designate how many plates, and if they purchase more than 10, the chamber offers free delivery at their specified time.
Another way you can assist is to help assemble the plates at The Hope Center located at 158 South Broad Street. The Chamber is seeking volunteers to help cook, assemble, distribute and deliver. They typically deliver over 700 plates to our local business community. If you would like to help, call Samantha Rickman at 706-886-2132.
HERE's the pitch: there's no better way to say "Thanks" to your team than to provide a fabulous lunch to them for working so hard during the past few months...all while supporting the community by way of our Chamber!
 
2. Mental Health in the US is Suffering - Will It Go Back to Normal?
According to a WIRED article Covid-19 has left lots of people feeling anxious and depressed. Many people have experienced worsening mental health during the pandemic—an increase that officials at the World Health Organization are concerned about. According to survey results released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in August 2020, 30% of respondents reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, versus 11% during the same time period in 2019. 



KFF, a nonprofit that conducts a monthly tracking poll of health indicators, found in July that 53% of respondents indicated that pandemic-related stress had affected their mental health, up from 32% in March. The conclusion of the article was that it is important to ensure that anyone struggling with their mental health has access to resources that might help them.
 
3. Looking to buy a used car in the pandemic? So is everyone else.
According to an article in the New York Times, this is a banner year for used cars sales. I wonder if it is just in urban areas where Uber and public transportation are more readily available and folks are not wanting to use those modes of getting around. Here's a quick summary of the article: Used cars are 
usually overlooked in the fanfare accorded to cutting-edge electric cars and gussied-up pickup trucks. Now they are suddenly the industry’s hottest commodity. Consumers are snapping up used vehicles as second or third cars so they can avoid trains, buses or Ubers during the coronavirus pandemic. Others are buying used rather than new to save money in an uncertain economy, not knowing when they or their spouse might lose a job. Demand for older cars has also been fed by a roughly two-month halt in production of new cars this spring. Across the country, the prices of used cars have shot up. The increase defies the conventional wisdom that cars are depreciating assets that lose a big chunk of their value the moment they leave the dealership. In July alone, the average value of used cars jumped more than 16%, according to Edmunds.com.

4. HR has quickly shifted to a resilient approach
The pandemic has forced HR leaders to become more resilient and focus on business transformation, local initiative, quick solutions, ongoing training and the sharing of information, writes Josh Bersin. "Resilient HR means that we, as HR professionals and leaders, are set up to quickly enable this transformation -- not only helping people come back to work, but also helping the company transform in the fastest, most positive way," he writes. 



Full Story: Josh Bersin blog (9/2)
 
5. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On September 2, 2020: 
The Toccoa Elementary administration was notified that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. All exposed staff members were notified and sent home. All exposed and positive staff will follow the Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home.
On September 2, 2020: The Stephens County Middle School administration was notified that a teacher/coach tested positive for COVID-19. Following the Georgia Department of Public Health instructions this person will quarantine at home. The September 3, 2020 football game was cancelled as precautionary action to protect the football players and staff. The administration is working to reschedule the game.
Here is the Week of September 4, 2020 update: 
3 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
115 students quarantined at home.
29 staff members quarantined.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/04/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of nine hundred fourteen (914) confirmed positive cases and thirty (30) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 4,818
Positive Results Received: 950 (755 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,823
Pending Results: 45

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 4 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 5 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 1,177
Positive Results: 203
Negative Results: 964
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.

NGTC Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 77
Positive Results: 18
Negative Results: 52
Pending Results: 7
 
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.
 

 

 

September 10, 2020

1. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Chicken-Que
As I mentioned yesterday, I try to keep these daily COVID-19 updates focused on matters related to the coronavirus and manufacturing. Well, I'm going to mention this item several times to encourage our local companies to encourage your employees and support our local chamber at the same time. As you know, many of the Currahee Military Weekend events have been cancelled this year due to the pandemic. However, the chamber is still cookin' chicken on Friday, October 2, 2020. They will have 1000...ONE THOUSAND...BBQ Chicken Plates to sell! THEY NEED YOUR HELP!!
They have created an easy way to order...ONLINE ORDERING...just click this link: 
https://cm.toccoagachamber.com/store/annual-chamber-chicken-bbq and it will take you straight to the Chamber Store to place your order. Customers can designate how many plates, and if they purchase more than 10, the chamber offers free delivery at their specified time.
Another way you can assist is to help assemble the plates at The Hope Center located at 158 South Broad Street. The Chamber is seeking volunteers to help cook, assemble, distribute and deliver. They typically deliver over 700 plates to our local business community. If you would like to help, call Samantha Rickman at 706-886-2132.
HERE's the pitch: there's no better way to say "Thanks" to your team than to provide a fabulous lunch to them for working so hard during the past few months...all while supporting the community by way of our Chamber!
 
2. "Everybody needs to get their flu shots" as COVID-19 pandemic continues
That's the advice from health director Dr. Audrey Arona. There is another threat residents need to be wary of and that threat is the looming flu season."CDC has worked with vaccine manufacturers to have extra flu vaccine available this flu season," officials at the federal agency said on their website. "Manufacturers have already begun distributing flu vaccine and will continue to distribute vaccines throughout the season. CDC recommends getting a flu vaccination in September or October but getting vaccinated anytime during the flu season can help protect you." The goal is that, with COVID-19 cases still sending people to the hospital, steps to ward off the spread of the season flu early on, will reduce chances that hospitals around the state could become burdened by two viruses going around communities.


3. Airlines turn to testing to stem virus spread, encourage travel
According to an article in the AJC, six months into the pandemic, Delta Air Lines has lost billions of dollars. The company has parked hundreds of planes and cut thousands of workers as air travel has plunged an unprecedented 70%. A large portion of the public just doesn’t feel safe traveling right now, even with enhanced cleaning protocols, face covering requirements, more spacing between seats and health declaration forms. So, as part of its efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus, and possibly put would-be travelers at ease, Atlanta-based Delta plans to increase COVID-19 testing. Not on its customers. On its employees. Atlanta-based Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian wrote in a memo to employees Thursday that the airline is working with the Mayo Clinic to determine which employees should be tested more frequently, based on factors such as previous cases of COVID-19 and community risk levels. What’s at stake is the recovery of airlines and airline jobs. As worried people continue to stay home and avoid travel, airlines have been cutting back to stay in operation. Delta started off the year with more than 90,000 employees. But it has now slashed its workforce, offering 17,000 buyouts and early retirements. Separately, more than 41,000 of its workers volunteered for temporary unpaid leave.  

4. What do hourly workers want during the pandemic?
Hiring hourly workers can be challenging amid the coronavirus pandemic, despite high unemployment, according to a survey of more than 5,000 hiring managers. Hourly workers are focused on issues such as flexibility, stability and safety, writes Desmond Lim of Workstream. 
Full Story: QSR magazine (08/2020) 
 
5. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On September 1, 2020
 Stephens County High School administration was notified of a student who tested positive for COVID-19. Following Georgia Department of Public Health instructions the system has notified parents of all exposed students. The exposed students will be required to quarantine from school for 14 days.
Here is the Week of August 28, 2020 update: 2 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
78 students quarantined at home.
14 staff members quarantined.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 08/28/2020.
The numbers are not a running total.
 
6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of nine hundred nine (909) confirmed positive cases and twenty-nine (29) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 4,818
Positive Results Received: 950 (755 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,823
Pending Results: 45

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 4 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 5 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 1,177
Positive Results: 203
Negative Results: 964
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.

NGTC Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 77
Positive Results: 18
Negative Results: 52
Pending Results: 7
 
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.

 

September 9, 2020

1. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Chicken-Que
As I mentioned yesterday, I try to keep these daily COVID-19 updates focused on matters related to the coronavirus and manufacturing. Well, I'm going to mention this item several times to encourage our local companies to encourage your employees and support our local chamber at the same time. As you know, many of the Currahee Military Weekend events have been cancelled this year due to the pandemic. However, the chamber is still cookin' chicken on Friday, October 2, 2020. They will have 1000...ONE THOUSAND...BBQ Chicken Plates to sell! THEY NEED YOUR HELP!!
They have created an easy way to order...ONLINE ORDERING...just click this link: 
https://cm.toccoagachamber.com/store/annual-chamber-chicken-bbq and it will take you straight to the Chamber Store to place your order. Customers can designate how many plates, and if they purchase more than 10, the chamber offers free delivery at their specified time.
Another way you can assist is to help assemble the plates at The Hope Center located at 158 South Broad Street. The Chamber is seeking volunteers to help cook, assemble, distribute and deliver. They typically deliver over 700 plates to our local business community. If you would like to help, call Samantha Rickman at 706-886-2132.
HERE's the pitch: there's no better way to say "Thanks" to your team than to provide a fabulous lunch to them for working so hard during the past few months...all while supporting the community by way of our Chamber!
 
2. It is highly unlikely that food is a source of Covid-19 contamination, experts say
A team of experts on food contamination says it is highly unlikely that food is a source of Covid-19 transmission. The International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF) looked at the evidence that coronavirus might be carried on food or its packing and found very little. Their finding mirrors earlier reporting from the US Food and Drug Administration that there is no real risk of getting the virus that causes Covid-19 from food or food packaging.
 
3. How long does it take to find out if you’ve been exposed to coronavirus?
This Fortune article points out that, according to a study in The Annals of Internal Medicine, the median incubation period for coronavirus is about five 
days. But it can span the gamut from two days to two weeks, further complicating the convoluted web of coronavirus diagnostics. You see, the way that a virus afflicts you is dependent on an "incubation period"—the number of days between when you catch a pathogen and actually show symptoms. With COVID, things are even more complicated because you may not show symptoms at all.
 
4. The Unnecessary Crisis in the American Workforce
I spent many years on college campuses, but this IndustryWeek 
article reminds us our economy needs skilled blue-collar and manufacturing workers more than ever. Skilled workers learn and improve upon their abilities over time, and use their hands for something more than just fingers on a keyboard. The description applies to independent contractors – carpenters, plumbers and electricians – but also to those on the factory floor – welders, machinists, machine operators, CAD draftspeople, and mechanical engineers.
There are numerous explanations for the shortage of workers in this segment of the economy. one is social pressure that encourages younger generations to avoid skilled trades in the first place. That thinking ignores the fact that there are millions of young people who don’t have the inclination to spend their working life at a desk looking at a computer screen, or to emerge from schooling with staggering debt.  
The National Association of Manufacturers reports that a skills gap has caused about a half-million manufacturing jobs to remain open, and consulting company Deloitte predicts that by the end of this decade, as many as 2.4 million manufacturing jobs may go unfilled, putting $454 billion in production at risk. Another concern is that many skilled tradespeople are aging out of the labor force. Estimates indicate that for every skilled person entering the workforce, there are five who retire.And according to a comprehensive report published by consulting firm Bain & Company, “If we want everyone’s kid to succeed, we need to bring vocational education back to the core of high school learning.”
Apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and vocational programs at community colleges are all ways young people can be taught blue-collar and manufacturing skills. These are also paths that lead to a successful life.
  
5. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On September 1, 2020
 Stephens County High School administration was notified of a student who tested positive for COVID-19. Following Georgia Department of Public Health instructions the system has notified parents of all exposed students. The exposed students will be required to quarantine from school for 14 days.
Here is the Week of August 28, 2020 update: 2 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
78 students quarantined at home.
14 staff members quarantined.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 08/28/2020.
The numbers are not a running total.
 
6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of nine hundred nine (909) confirmed positive cases and twenty-eight (28) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 4,818
Positive Results Received: 950 (755 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,823
Pending Results: 45

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 4 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 5 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 1,177
Positive Results: 203
Negative Results: 964
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.

NGTC Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 77
Positive Results: 18
Negative Results: 52
Pending Results: 7
 
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.

 

 

September 8, 2020

 

1. Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce Chicken-Que
I try to keep these daily COVID-19 updates focused on matters related to the coronavirus and manufacturing. Well, this item is tangentially related to COVID-19, but since we all have to eat, this is a good way to both eat and support our local chamber. As you know, many of our Currahee Military Weekend events have been cancelled this year due to the pandemic. However, the chamber is still cookin' chicken on Friday, October 2, 2020. They will have 1000...ONE THOUSAND...BBQ Chicken Plates to sell! THEY NEED YOUR HELP!!
They have created an easy way to order...ONLINE ORDERING...just click this link: 
https://cm.toccoagachamber.com/store/annual-chamber-chicken-bbq and it will take you straight to the Chamber Store to place your order. Customers can designate how many plates, and if they purchase more than 10, the chamber offers free delivery at their specified time.
Another way you can assist is to help assemble the plates at The Hope Center located at 158 South Broad Street. The Chamber is seeking volunteers to help cook, assemble, distribute and deliver. They typically deliver over 700 plates to our local business community. If you would like to help, call Samantha Rickman at 706-886-2132.
HERE's the pitch: there's no better way to say "Thanks" to your team than to provide a fabulous lunch to them for working so hard during the past few months...all while supporting the community by way of our Chamber!


2. CDC tells states to prep for COVID-19 vaccine distribution as soon as late October
According to this Reuters article, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has notified public health officials in all 50 states and five large cities to prepare to distribute a coronavirus vaccine to health care workers and other high-risk groups as soon as late October or early November. “For the purpose of initial planning, CDC provided states with certain planning assumptions as they work on state specific plans for vaccine distribution, including possibly having limited quantities of vaccines in October and November,” a CDC spokeswoman told Reuters. The CDC is preparing for one or two vaccines for COVID-19 to be available in limited quantities. The vaccines would be made available free of cost first to high-risk groups including healthcare workers, national security personnel, and nursing home residents and staff, the agency said.
 
3. Federal approval unlikely for Georgia schools to scrap year-end tests amid COVID-19
According to an 
article in Gwinnett Daily Digest, the U.S. Department of Education last week signaled it will deny Georgia’s request to waive year-end standardized tests for the 2020-21 school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, sparking a bold backlash from Georgia's top school official. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told Georgia school officials they “should not anticipate” receiving approval to scrap the annual assessments this year, citing the need to maintain performance standards and data-tracking for student achievement. State School Superintendent Richard Woods slammed DeVos’ letter. “It is disappointing, shows a complete disconnect with the realities of the classroom and will be a detriment to public education,” he wrote in a statement. Georgia officials submitted a testing waiver request in June to abstain from year-end tests as the state’s roughly 2,800 public schools continue grappling with resuming classes online and in-person amid the virus. The federal government must approve the waiver before tests can be paused. School officials sought the waiver as not only a breather for students and teachers already grappling with profound learning environment changes prompted by the virus, but also as a means to save on millions of dollars needed to administer the tests while school budgets are being slashed statewide.

4. Dry Hands are Safe Hands
Did you know bacteria are more easily transmitted from wet hands than dry hands? If not, that’s because there is little public discussion about hand drying and its role in reducing the spread of germs. Join the Cascades Pro campaign "Hand Hygiene Is A Two-Part Process" and raise awareness.

5. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
Here is the Week of September 4, 2020 update: 
3 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
29 staff members quarantined.
115 students quarantined at home.
14 staff members quarantined.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 09/04/2020.
The numbers are not a running total.
 
6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of eight hundred ninety-eight (898) confirmed positive cases and twenty-eight (28) reported deaths for Stephens County.
Stephens County Hospital COVID-19 Testing:
Total Tests completed: 4,818
Positive Results Received: 950 (755 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,823
Pending Results: 45

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
The Hospital currently has 4 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 5 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 1,113
Positive Results: 184
Negative Results: 914
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.

NGTC Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 67
Positive Results: 15
Negative Results: 52
Pending Results: 0
 
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.

 

September 4, 2020

. Stephens County School Systems Announcements
As the SCSS is coming to the end of the 20-day flexibility period parents will need to make a decision moving forward if their students will continue with virtual or in-person learning. Therefore, September 10th and 11th will be teacher workdays. The students will remain home for these two days. This will allow for students to catch up on any virtual or in class work. This time will also allow our staff to prepare for the rest of the year to meet the needs of our students as we move forward. The deadline for selection of virtual or in-person is still September 9, 2020.
 
2. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
September 2, 2020: 
Toccoa Elementary School administration was notified that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. All exposed staff members were notified and sent home. All exposed and positive staff will follow the Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home.
September 2, 2020: The Stephens County Middle School administration was notified that a teacher/coach tested positive for COVID-19. Following the Georgia Department of Public Health instructions this person will quarantine at home. The Thursday, September 3, 2020 football game was cancelled as precautionary action to protect our football players and staff. The administration is working to reschedule the game.
Here is the Week of August 28, 2020 update: 
2 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
78 students quarantined at home.
14 staff members quarantined.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 08/28/2020.
The numbers are not a running total.
 
3. What we've learned about Covid-19 seven months after the first US case
This CNN 
article published in the Gwinnett Daily Post highlights what's clear so far about who is impacted by the virus, how the virus has been controlled, and where the global race for treatments and vaccines stands.
Who has been impacted
According to the CDC's best estimate, the average person has less than a 1% chance of dying from coronavirus. If infected, people 85 and older are 20 times more likely to die than people in their 50s, and 60 times more likely to die than people in their 40s. Underlying conditions have a huge impact on more serious cases or deaths. Those with diabetes were three times more likely to be hospitalized. Those who are obese have an increased risk of death three to four times relative to those of normal weight. The people most likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19 are minorities: Black, Hispanic and Native American people. In the largest review to date, 13% of those with both cancer and Covid-19 died within a month.
Over 60% of new infections in the United States are now in people under the age of 50. People ages 18 to 29 represent 22.3% of cases; ages 30 to 39 represent 17.1% of cases and ages 40 to 49 represent 15.7% of cases. Pediatric cases rose 90% In July, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. And health departments in many states reported cases of inflammation overdrive in youngsters -- possibly as a reaction to coronavirus infection. This rare complication is known as MIS-C or multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children.
The state of testing
To diagnose Covid-19, there are two key types of tests available.
PCR tests: Molecular diagnostic tests, also called PCR tests, are the most common tests in the US for coronavirus. The tests look for the virus' genetic material -- a sign of active infection.
Antigen tests: Antigen tests don't need complicated chemicals, viral transport media or RNA extraction kits. They don't necessarily require appointments at specialized labs, highly trained technicians, or certain machines. And they can provide an answer in minutes, rather than hours or days. They are often cheaper. They do not test for the full genetic code of the virus, but rather a part of it. That can mean they are not as reliable as PCR testing. But, rapid tests, taken more often, make up for the fact that they aren't as accurate. For colleges to reopen, for example, students may need to be tested every two to three days and be able to get quick results within minutes or hours -- and that's in addition to continuing to wear masks, wash hands and keep their distance from others.
Treatments and vaccines
Where things stand: There have been incremental advances strides with therapies for coronavirus. Three are approved and there were at least 270 active trials and 570 in planning stage for treatments as of August 31, according to the FDA. Remdesivir, an antiviral, has been approved by the FDA to treat hospitalized patients with severe Covid-19. The drug must be administered intravenously. Dexamethasone, a widely available steroid, has been found to help hospitalized Covid patients. One study found that it may be able to help the sickest in hospitals who require ventilation or oxygen. A low dose regimen for 10 days was found to reduce the risk of death by a third among those on ventilators or with oxygen. Convalescent plasma is the most recent Covid-19 treatment to be granted emergency use authorization by the FDA. It uses blood donated by people who have recovered from coronavirus infections. There's hope for this treatment -- it has been used to treat other deadly coronaviruses -- but many health experts said it needed more studies that prove its benefit. Much of the data publicly available does not include randomized control trials, the gold standard in research. The data that has been shared shows those treated with plasma were often treated with other drugs, too, making it hard to know the impact of the plasma. Monoclonal antibodies are currently being studied by several companies as a possible treatment for patients infected with Covid-19, and as prevention. Monoclonal antibodies are immune system proteins that specifically home in on a single target. In coronavirus, they are targeted to a single structure on the body of the virus. The hope is to slow, or even prevent, infection. The treatments can be expensive and difficult to manufacture, though.
As for vaccines, 33 are in human trials around the world as of August 31, according to the World Health Organization. The US government's vaccine 
development effort, Operation Warp Speed, is supporting eight vaccines, six of which have been announced. Operation Warp Speed's goal is to have 300 million doses of a vaccine that's safe and effective by January 2021. Here are some names of companies involved in vaccine studies: Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, and Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline.
But a major conclusion of this long article is that there are things people can do to help stop the spread of the virus: wear a mask; keep physical distance; and maintain hand hygiene.
 
4. The CDC issues a nationwide eviction moratorium through the end of the year
As reported in this NPR article, the CDC has issued a halt on evictions through December for any American who has lost work due to the pandemic and doesn’t have another place to go. The goal is to prevent renters from ending up in 
shelters, which could further the spread of Covid-19. While the order provides a lifeline in the short term, renters will still be expected to make up missed payments when the moratorium expires. But this new ban, which doesn't offer any way for landlords to recoup unpaid rent, is being met with a mixed response. Many housing advocates are very happy to see it, while landlords are worried about falling off a cliff.
Under the rules of the order, renters have to sign a declaration saying they don't make more than $99,000 a year — or twice that if filing a joint tax return — and that they have no other option if evicted other than homelessness or living with more people in close proximity. Evictions for reasons other than nonpayment of rent will be allowed. The government says it will impose criminal penalties on landlords who violate the ban.
 
5. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of eight hundred seventy-five (875) confirmed positive cases and twenty-seven (27) 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: 4,818
Positive Results Received: 950 (755 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,823
Pending Results: 45

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 4 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 5 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 1,113
Positive Results: 184
Negative Results: 914
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.
 
NGTC Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 67
Positive Results: 15
Negative Results: 52
Pending Results: 0
 
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.
 

September 4, 2020

1. Stephens County School Systems Announcements
As the SCSS is coming to the end of the 20-day flexibility period parents will need to make a decision moving forward if their students will continue with virtual or in-person learning. Therefore, September 10th and 11th will be teacher workdays. The students will remain home for these two days. This will allow for students to catch up on any virtual or in class work. This time will also allow our staff to prepare for the rest of the year to meet the needs of our students as we move forward. The deadline for selection of virtual or in-person is still September 9, 2020.

2. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
September 2, 2020: 
Toccoa Elementary School administration was notified that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. All exposed staff members were notified and sent home. All exposed and positive staff will follow the Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and quarantine at home.
September 2, 2020: The Stephens County Middle School administration was notified that a teacher/coach tested positive for COVID-19. Following the Georgia Department of Public Health instructions this person will quarantine at home. The Thursday, September 3, 2020 football game was cancelled as precautionary action to protect our football players and staff. The administration is working to reschedule the game.
Here is the Week of August 28, 2020 update: 
2 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
78 students quarantined at home.
14 staff members quarantined.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 08/28/2020.
The numbers are not a running total.
 
3. What we've learned about Covid-19 seven months after the first US case
This CNN 
article published in the Gwinnett Daily Post highlights what's clear so far about who is impacted by the virus, how the virus has been controlled, and where the global race for treatments and vaccines stands.
Who has been impacted
According to the CDC's best estimate, the average person has less than a 1% chance of dying from coronavirus. If infected, people 85 and older are 20 times more likely to die than people in their 50s, and 60 times more likely to die than people in their 40s. Underlying conditions have a huge impact on more serious cases or deaths. Those with diabetes were three times more likely to be hospitalized. Those who are obese have an increased risk of death three to four times relative to those of normal weight. The people most likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19 are minorities: Black, Hispanic and Native American people. In the largest review to date, 13% of those with both cancer and Covid-19 died within a month.
Over 60% of new infections in the United States are now in people under the age of 50. People ages 18 to 29 represent 22.3% of cases; ages 30 to 39 represent 17.1% of cases and ages 40 to 49 represent 15.7% of cases. Pediatric cases rose 90% In July, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. And health departments in many states reported cases of inflammation overdrive in youngsters -- possibly as a reaction to coronavirus infection. This rare complication is known as MIS-C or multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children.
The state of testing
To diagnose Covid-19, there are two key types of tests available.
PCR tests: Molecular diagnostic tests, also called PCR tests, are the most common tests in the US for coronavirus. The tests look for the virus' genetic material -- a sign of active infection.
Antigen tests: Antigen tests don't need complicated chemicals, viral transport media or RNA extraction kits. They don't necessarily require appointments at specialized labs, highly trained technicians, or certain machines. And they can provide an answer in minutes, rather than hours or days. They are often cheaper. They do not test for the full genetic code of the virus, but rather a part of it. That can mean they are not as reliable as PCR testing. But, rapid tests, taken more often, make up for the fact that they aren't as accurate. For colleges to reopen, for example, students may need to be tested every two to three days and be able to get quick results within minutes or hours -- and that's in addition to continuing to wear masks, wash hands and keep their distance from others.
Treatments and vaccines
Where things stand: There have been incremental advances strides with therapies for coronavirus. Three are approved and there were at least 270 active trials and 570 in planning stage for treatments as of August 31, according to the FDA. Remdesivir, an antiviral, has been approved by the FDA to treat hospitalized patients with severe Covid-19. The drug must be administered intravenously. Dexamethasone, a widely available steroid, has been found to help hospitalized Covid patients. One study found that it may be able to help the sickest in hospitals who require ventilation or oxygen. A low dose regimen for 10 days was found to reduce the risk of death by a third among those on ventilators or with oxygen. Convalescent plasma is the most recent Covid-19 treatment to be granted emergency use authorization by the FDA. It uses blood donated by people who have recovered from coronavirus infections. There's hope for this treatment -- it has been used to treat other deadly coronaviruses -- but many health experts said it needed more studies that prove its benefit. Much of the data publicly available does not include randomized control trials, the gold standard in research. The data that has been shared shows those treated with plasma were often treated with other drugs, too, making it hard to know the impact of the plasma. Monoclonal antibodies are currently being studied by several companies as a possible treatment for patients infected with Covid-19, and as prevention. Monoclonal antibodies are immune system proteins that specifically home in on a single target. In coronavirus, they are targeted to a single structure on the body of the virus. The hope is to slow, or even prevent, infection. The treatments can be expensive and difficult to manufacture, though.
As for vaccines, 33 are in human trials around the world as of August 31, according to the World Health Organization. The US government's vaccine 
development effort, Operation Warp Speed, is supporting eight vaccines, six of which have been announced. Operation Warp Speed's goal is to have 300 million doses of a vaccine that's safe and effective by January 2021. Here are some names of companies involved in vaccine studies: Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, and Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline.
But a major conclusion of this long article is that there are things people can do to help stop the spread of the virus: wear a mask; keep physical distance; and maintain hand hygiene.
 
4. The CDC issues a nationwide eviction moratorium through the end of the year
As reported in this NPR article, the CDC has issued a halt on evictions through December for any American who has lost work due to the pandemic and doesn’t have another place to go. The goal is to prevent renters from ending up in 
shelters, which could further the spread of Covid-19. While the order provides a lifeline in the short term, renters will still be expected to make up missed payments when the moratorium expires. But this new ban, which doesn't offer any way for landlords to recoup unpaid rent, is being met with a mixed response. Many housing advocates are very happy to see it, while landlords are worried about falling off a cliff.
Under the rules of the order, renters have to sign a declaration saying they don't make more than $99,000 a year — or twice that if filing a joint tax return — and that they have no other option if evicted other than homelessness or living with more people in close proximity. Evictions for reasons other than nonpayment of rent will be allowed. The government says it will impose criminal penalties on landlords who violate the ban.
 
5. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of eight hundred seventy-five (875) confirmed positive cases and twenty-seven (27) 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: 4,818
Positive Results Received: 950 (755 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,823
Pending Results: 45

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 4 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 5 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 1,113
Positive Results: 184
Negative Results: 914
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.
 
NGTC Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 67
Positive Results: 15
Negative Results: 52
Pending Results: 0
 
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.

 

 

September 3, 2020

1. Marketing During a Pandemic: Are You Up to the Challenge?
This IndustryWeek 
article suggests five strategic opportunities for manufacturers:
Reintroduce yourself.
Do people know what you stand for? This is a time when Americans are focused on values. Talk about your COVID-19 response: health and safety protocols for workers, supply chain continuity and so forth. But also tell the stories that reinforce that your corporate mission and values are more than just words on a page. Solicit authentic employee testimonials that will tell your story for you.
Strengthen your employer brand.
While your corporate brand is how buyers and the broader public perceive you, your employer brand reflects whether and how much people want to work for you. Take a fresh look at your HR recruitment and retention messaging to ensure that it accurately communicates your company culture. This is not limited to how you are keeping workers safe, but the health of your working conditions, whether or not there is a crisis.
Strengthen your community goodwill.
We need community more than ever, and now is the ideal time to communicate how your company is a valued community partner. Whether you’ve ramped up production of vital supplies, donated resources, or have employees volunteering at a local food pantry, it’s important to find ways to communicate what you’re doing.
Boost your online presence.
Now is the time to ensure that you’re giving prospects a steady stream of thought leadership articles, blog posts, and data-driven information they can use to vet your company’s smarts and the value of doing business with you. As you plot your content strategy, don’t forget that different people consume information in multiple ways and across different channels. So maybe this is the time to incorporate a podcast series into your marketing mix or to add more visual content—from socially distanced photos from the factory floor to people’s pets as they work from home.
Invest in virtual events.
Virtual events offer a fresh way to get your team in front of prospects. Identify opportunities to speak at virtual conferences or create your own conference or webinar. For example, can you bring together industry leaders for an online conversation or webinar about pandemic lessons learned? Take advantage of the intimacy of the small screen to talk to your key audiences.
How to Get It All Done
Review your current marketing plan and concentrate on the areas that will deliver the highest return. Once you have identified the key activities, do them consistently. Measure your results and keep refining to improve.
 
2. At Least A Quarter Of U.S. Malls Will Disappear
According to this Bisnow article citing a new report from Coresight Research, there is little hope of a recovery for the hard-hit retail sector until next year at the earliest, and even so, about 25% of all U.S. malls (totaling about 1,000 now) are doomed to close over the next five years.
The sorry state of department stores and other anchors, which was true well before the coronavirus pandemic, will be a key factor driving mall closures, with lower-end shopping centers at most risk of closures. A number of properties might be able to survive, or at least delay a possible closure, by changing their tenant mix. More viable options for some space include grocery and healthcare retail, as well as last-mile fulfillment centers. The glum outlook for retail properties is despite the fact that overall U.S. retail spending has bounced back to pre-pandemic levels as of July.
 
3. Make time to grieve pandemic losses
Mental health experts say that the feeling of being drained many people are experiencing right now could be a form of grief. Whether we have lost loved ones, jobs, financial stability or are just grieving the loss of normalcy, grief is natural, and identifying it is an important step toward healing. Give yourself -- and your team, if you're in a leadership position -- the time and space needed to fully process your feelings. 
Full Story: USA Today (8/30),  Chicago Tribune (tiered subscription model) (8/26)
 
4. US Manufacturing Sustains Growth as Optimism Returns
According to this IndustryWeek 
article, manufacturing and the overall economy continued to grow in August, according to the Institute for Supply Management’s August report on business. Their purchasing manager’s index for manufacturers grew to 56.0% in August, an increase of 1.8 points from July. The ISM’s production index rose to 63.3%, up 1.2 points from July. New orders and prices both increased by more than 6 points in August, as the new orders index rose 6.1 points to 67.6% and prices increased 6.3 points to 59.5%. The PMI, new orders, production, and prices indexes all grew for a third month running since pandemic-related contraction in April and May. Trade picked up for the second month in a row in August as the new export orders index grew to 53.3% and the imports index rose to 55.6%. Suggesting resurgent demand, the ISM’s index tracking order backlog rose 2.8 points to 54.6% as it, too, increased for a second straight month while supplier deliveries slowed for a tenth.The ISM’s employment index for August is 46.4%, 2.1 points higher than it was in July. The pandemic continued to linger over the list of commodities in short supply. Aluminum cans, electronic components, freight, and lumber were all in short supply for August, while gloves for PPE remained in short supply for a sixth month running.
 
5. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On September 2, 2020 Toccoa Elementary School administration was notified that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. All exposed staff members were notified and sent home. All exposed and positive staff will follow the Georgia Department of Public health guidelines and quarantine at home.
On September 2, 2020 Stephens County Middle School administration was notified that a teacher/coach tested positive for COVID-19. Following the Georgia Department of Public health instructions this person will quarantine at home. The football game scheduled for today, September 3, 2020 was cancelled as precautionary action to protect our football players and staff. The administration is working to reschedule the game.
Here again is the Week of August 28, 2020 update: 2 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test. 78 students quarantined at home. 14 staff members quarantined. 3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually. 536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 08/28/2020. The numbers are not a running total.
 
6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of eight hundred sixty-two (862) confirmed positive cases and twenty-seven (27) 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: 4,818
Positive Results Received: 950 (755 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,823
Pending Results: 45

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 4 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 5 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 1,113
Positive Results: 184
Negative Results: 914
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.
 
NGTC Toccoa Clinic MedAccess is also now reporting on Mondays their statistics
Tests Completed: 67
Positive Results: 15
Negative Results: 52
Pending Results: 0
 
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.
 
 

 

September 2, 2020

1. Governor extends COVID-19 emergency orders once again
According to this WSBTV.com News Staff article, Gov. Brian Kemp extended the state’s Public Health Emergency order once again, now pushing the end date of it until October 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,” Kemp’s office said in a news release. Kemp also extended his COVID-19 guidelines order that requires social distancing, bans gatherings of more than 50 people unless there is a distance of 6 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. That order now runs through September 15, 2020.
The extensions come as the number of people catching the virus appears to be going down. In Georgia, since schools have returned to instruction, the data has not shown a marked spike in cases. “Currently, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Georgia are at their lowest since July 6. Cases reported August 23 were at their lowest point since June 22. The statewide positivity rate has declined in the past month, and there is ample testing capacity in every region,” Kemp’s office said. 
 
2. "All is well here." 
I checked in with Toccoa Falls College President Dr. Bob Myers. The report from the college is good fall semester student enrollment numbers and their first master’s program (Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership) started with 21 students. So far, they have zero students positive for COVID-19.  They are being extremely careful and have high hopes for a great semester!
 
3. Pastor Rick's Daily Hope
In his series "A Faith That Works When Life Doesn't", pastor and author Rick Warren has shared a message concerning "A Faith That De-escalates Conflict" that offers some sage, biblical advice (https://pastorrick.com/:
1. Lower my voice. "The quiet words of a wise person are more effective than the shouting of a leader of fools." Proverbs 15:1
2. Breath, and slow down the pace of my speaking. “People with hot tempers start fights and cause trouble, but a calm, cool spirit keeps the peace.” Proverbs 15:18 “If a ruler (or anyone else) loses his temper against you, don't panic! A calm disposition quiets intemperate rage.” Ecclesiastes 10:4 
3. Listen more than I talk. “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19 “Arrogant know-it-alls stir up discord, but wise men and women listen to each other's counsel.” Proverbs 13:10 
4. Listen for the hurt behind the words. “Each heart knows its own bitterness...” Proverbs 14:10
5. Pray while I'm listening; pray, Lord, calm me down. “Gideon built an altar for worshiping the Lord and he called it ‘The Lord Calms Our Fears.’” Judges 6:24 “God stills the raging oceans, quiets the noise of roaring waves, and calms the uproar of the peoples.” Psalm 65:7 
6. Seek to understand before seeking be understood. “A person who answers without listening is foolish and disgraceful.” Proverbs 18:13
7. Try to see their perspective. “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:4-5 
8. Ask God to give me a clear picture of me. “Search me, O God and examine my heart; test me and know my nervous thoughts. Point out anything in ME that is wrong. Then lead me on the path that is always right.” Psalm 139:23-24 
9. Admit any part of the conflict that I caused. Jesus: “Why do you notice the little piece of dust in your friend's eye, but you don't notice the big piece of wood in your own eye? First, take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly to take the dust out of your friend's eye.” Matthew 7:3, 5
10. Choose my words carefully. “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18 “Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed.” Ephesians 4:29 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God!” Matthew 5:9 
 
4. Is Exercise Good for You?
When was the last time you heard “pandemic” and “good news” in the same sentence? According to a 
story in the New York Times, endurance athletes will be happy with the news that a good aerobic base should increase the positive effects of an eventual Coronavirus vaccine. Check out: “Exercise May Boost Your Vaccine Response” which cites 2 studies of elite athletes.   
 
5. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
On September 1, 2020 Stephens County High School administration was notified of a student who tested positive for COVID-19. Following DPH instructions the system has notified parents of all exposed students. The exposed students will be required to quarantine from school for 14 days. 
Here is the Week of August 28, 2020 update: 2 staff members with a positive COVID-19 test.
78 students quarantined at home.
14 staff members quarantined.
3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually.
536 current employees. The numbers represented are current active cases as of 08/28/2020.
The numbers are not a running total.
 
6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of eight hundred fifty-three (853) confirmed positive cases and twenty-seven (27) 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: 4,818
Positive Results Received: 950 (755 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,823
Pending Results: 45

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 3 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 4 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 1,113
Positive Results: 184
Negative Results: 914
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.

 

September 1, 2020

1. The head of the FDA says he would fast-track a promising Covid-19 vaccine
In this Financial Times article, Stephen Hahn, the head of the FDA, said the agency would authorize use of a Covid-19 vaccine before the completion of Phase 3 trials as long as it seems like this will do more good than harm. This may mean issuing an emergency authorization for certain populations rather than approving it for everyone.
 
2. UPS constructs Louisville freezer farm to store anticipated COVID-19 vaccine
According to this Louisville Business First article, one of the two freezer farms United Parcel Service Inc. is constructing to house thousands of doses of the Covid-19 vaccine will be in Louisville, KY. The other freezer farm is in Venlo, in the Netherlands. David Graves, corporate and communications manager for UPS, said the structures will house up to 300 freezers at -80°C. The freezers themselves are about the size of an average refrigerator and can hold 48,000 vials of the vaccine. The freezers will additionally be certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to hold the super-chilled cargo. The company looks to have the Louisville farm installed before the end of the year. While the company cannot disclose the exact location of the freezer farms in Louisville or Venlo for security reasons, Graves said each of the facilities’ proximity to major UPS air cargo hubs will give the company the ability to provide overnight delivery to almost anywhere in the world. UPS has been in contact with the United States Department of Health & Human Services and Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership initiated by the federal government to accelerate vaccine development, in order to ascertain the logistics capabilities needed for vaccine storage and distribution. Operation Warp Speed looks to deliver 300 million doses of a safe Covid-19 vaccine by January 2021, according to the Department of Health & Human services. Graves said discussions are still in progress on how vaccine distribution will work once the doses are available.
 
3. Fall used to be considered the offseason for travel. Not this year.
This Washington Post article suggests travel’s typical slow period could become 2020′s peak. Keep these tips in mind before embarking on a fall trip:
Some traditional fall trips may still be viable this year
Many of fall’s best-loved travel activities can be enjoyed without crowds, and they can be carried out with social distancing in mind. Once the 2020 fall foliage prediction map comes out, you can plan a road trip to see the country’s most colorful changing leaves near you.
Consider a more remote getaway
Avoiding crowded transportation methods, and crowded destinations, can reduce your risk of coronavirus exposure.
Consider getting a coronavirus test before you leave
Before you take off, consider getting tested for the coronavirus to know you won’t be taking the virus on the road with you. According to the CDC, travel-associated coronavirus testing is a “worthwhile concept” that can help reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Remember to stay vigilant about mask-wearing, hand-washing and physical distancing whenever you’re out in public.
Know the travel restrictions of your destination, and your home state
As of last week, 31 U.S. jurisdictions have no travel restrictions for visitors coming from other places, and 21 have restrictions for visitors that could require self-quarantines.  Before you leave for a trip this fall, check the government website(s) of the destination(s) you’ll be in along the way, and your local government website to see what kinds of restrictions you’ll face when you come home from a trip.
 
4. 10 Tips for Practicing Effective Social Distancing in the Workplace by Humana
1. Ensure desks or workstations are at least 6 feet apart. When possible, also make sure there is ample space for walkways.
2. Set up virtual meetings. It’s important to try to do this even when you’re in the same building with coworkers. If in-person meetings are unavoidable, maintain a safe distance between meeting attendees, and keep meeting duration short (15 minutes or less).
3. Keep conference rooms closed. If that’s not possible, limit attendance in shared rooms to a number of people that still allows employees to remain 6 feet apart.
4. Remove extra chairs in common areas. Limiting seating in cafeterias or break rooms can help discourage people from congregating.
5. Limit the number of people allowed in shared bathrooms. Even if there are multiple stalls or toilets, be sure to hang up signs on bathroom doors to remind employees to maintain a safe distance from one another.
6. Encourage employees to bring lunch. Permit employees to eat at their desks whenever possible.
7. Cancel or reschedule events. These might include nonessential meetings, training sessions or group activities.
8. Add tape or markers on the ground in common areas. Adding these visual signals may help encourage people to continue to stand a safe distance from one another.
9. Implement flexible or staggered work hours. Whenever possible, split your workforce into shifts to limit the amount of employees in the workplace at any given time.
10. Avoid having employees share tools, workstations, utensils and other supplies. Advise employees to keep all work materials in a drawer, locker or backpack, and if possible, to label them with their name.
This material is provided by Humana for informational use only and should not be construed as medical, legal, financial, or other professional advice or used in place of consulting a licensed professional. You should consult with an applicable licensed professional to determine what is right for you.
 
5. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
There have been no additional school system updates since last Thursday, August 27, 2020.
 
6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of eight hundred forty-five (845) confirmed positive cases and twenty-seven (27) 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: 4,782
Positive Results Received: 939 (744 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,796
Pending Results: 47

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 5 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics
Tests Completed: 1,113
Positive Results: 184
Negative Results: 914
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.

 

 

August 31, 2020

 Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
There have been no additional school system updates since last Thursday, August 27, 2020.
 
2. CARES Act Loan Assistance Is Available
The Georgia Mountains Regional Commission is pleased to announce that we have been awarded supplemental funding from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) through the CARES Act for RLF Funding. GMRC received $2,101,000 in funding, of which $1.9 million will be reserved for loaning to businesses in all 13 of our counties. Applicants must be able to attest as to how they have been impacted by COVID-19. Please see the attached flyer for more details.  I have also attached an application that you can share with any businesses within Region 2 that may wish to apply. Please contact me with any questions.
 
3. CDC director walks back change in coronavirus testing guidelines
After issuing 
new guidelines suggesting that people who were exposed to the virus but are asymptomatic don't need to get tested, the CDC is now reversing course, saying that “testing may be considered for all close contacts of confirmed or probable Covid-19 patients.” The adjustment comes after widespread backlash from health experts around the country.
 
4. The Governor Brian Kemp Asks Georgians to Do “Four Things for Fall”
Building upon the “Four Things for Four Weeks” campaign, Governor Brian Kemp is urging all Georgians to do “Four Things for Fall”:  wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands regularly, and follow the guidance of public health officials detailed in the Governor's various Executive Orders. 
Read more here.

5. Abbott Labs’ 5-Minute Virus Test Gets Emergency Authorization
This IndustryWeek article reports the test will be paired with an app designed to display a health pass for negative test results. The BinaxNOW test delivers results within 15 minutes by testing a nasal swab (a shorter swab than the nasopharyngeal swab used in other tests) for SARS-COV-2 antibodies. Each test will cost $5. The FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) opens the door for the test to be used by medical professionals who already have Abbott’s ID Now testing platform, commonly used to test for strep throat or influenza. Both the test and the testing platform it runs on are highly portable: Abbott Laboratories says the test itself is about the size of a credit card, and the ID Now platform it runs on is about the size of a toaster. Alongside the test EUA, Abbott Labs announced a novel healthcare offering: a free phone application called Navica that displays a health pass for anyone who tests negative for COVID-19 using the BinaxNOW app. The pass, which is temporary, lists the date of the negative test and renews itself each time the person is tested. The Advanced Medical Technology Association currently estimates that test manufacturers are shipping about a million tests per day. Abbott Laboratories plans to ship tens of millions of the rapid tests in September and ramp up production to 50 million tests a month by the beginning of October. 
 
 
6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of eight hundred twenty (820) confirmed positive cases and twenty-six (26) 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: 4,690
Positive Results Received: 909 (721 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,716
Pending Results: 65

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 5 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics  
Tests Completed: 1,113
Positive Results: 184
Negative Results: 914
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.

August 28, 2020

1. CDC director walks back change in coronavirus testing guidelines
According to this 
article in The Hill, the CDC, after issuing new guidelines suggesting that people who were exposed to the virus but are asymptomatic don't need to get tested, is now reversing course, saying that “testing may be considered for all close contacts of confirmed or probable Covid-19 patients.” The adjustment comes after widespread backlash from health experts around the country.  
 
2. Stephens County School System COVID-19 Updates
I'm going to start checking with the school system webpage periodically for  updates from the school system. Here are their recent postings:
August 27, 2020: Today 08/27/2020 Stephens County Middle School Administration was notified of a teacher who tested positive for COVID-19. Following the

Georgia Department of Public Health
instructions we have notified parents of all exposed students. The exposed teachers and students will be required to quarantine from school for 14 days.
August 27, 2020: Today 08/27/2020 Big A Elementary Administration was notified of a student who received positive test results for COVID-19.  Following the
Georgia Department of Public Health
instructions we have notified parents of all exposed students. The exposed teachers and students will be required to quarantine from school for 14 days.
August 26, 2020: This afternoon, 08/26/2020, Big Administration was notified by a teacher that they received a positive COVID-19 test. The parents of all exposed students have been notified. Students and staff impacted are following Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines for their quarantine.   
August 25, 2020: Today 08/25/2020 Big A Elementary Administration was notified of a student who received positive test results for COVID-19. Following the Georgia Department of Public Health instructions we have notified parents of all exposed students. The exposed teachers and students will be required to quarantine from school for 14 days.
August 24, 2020: Today 08/24/2020 our transportation Director was notified that one of our bus drivers received a positive Covid-19 test. The bus driver started to experience symptoms on 08/19/2020. Following the Georgia Department of Public Health we have notified parents of the five exposed students. These students will be required to quarantine from school for 14 days.
Week of August 21, 2020. These numbers are current active cases for the week of August 21, 2020. The numbers are not a running total: 1 staff member with a positive COVID-19 test. 14 staff members quarantined. 62 students quarantined at home. 3,929 students currently enrolled in-person and virtually. 536 current employees. 
August 19, 2020: Today 08/19/2020 Big A Elementary Administration was notified by a paraprofessional that they received a positive Covid test.  Following the guidelines from the Georgia Department of Public Health we have notified the parents of all exposed students. These students will be required to quarantine from school for 14 days.
 
3. "Red Rage" Tonight
This must be football season! Come out and meet your Stephens County Indians at this community "Red Rage" pep rally tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the Stephens County Football Stadium - "The Reservation". Then plan to travel with the Indians to White County on September 4, 2020 for their first game.
 
4. The first repeat Covid-19 infection isn't all bad news
According to this WIRED article, the recent report of a Hong Kong man getting reinfected with Covid-19 instilled fear in many, but some experts breathed a sigh of relief. While reinfection of the novel virus can sound scary, in this case, the man experienced symptoms the first time but did not the second time. He may have been reinfected, but experts were encouraged by the fact that he was still protected from the symptoms of the disease the second time. To those who study the immune system, a case of reinfection is not necessarily the same thing as a lack of protection. It's all part of the natural course of building immunity over time.
 
5. In person or online? Here are 100 public universities to watch during the pandemic.
This Washington Post 
list tracks major schools in every state and their response to the coronavirus crisis.
 
6. ACCG & GMA Release Model Face Mask Resolutions and Ordinances
The Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) and the Georgia Municipal Association have released a model face mask/face covering ordinance and model face mask/face covering resolution based upon the Governor Brian Kemp’s Executive Order 08.15.20.01 (EO). The County model ordinance requires masks and face coverings in both public and private spaces in the unincorporated area in counties that meet the threshold requirement (i.e., at least 100 confirmed cases of 100 per 100,000 over a two week period according to the Georgia Department of Public Health). Counties should consult the map available on the Georgia Department of Public  Health’s COVID-19 Daily Status Report to determine if the county is eligible to adopt a public mask ordinance (scroll down to the COVID-19 by County map, select Cases and scroll over the county to see your county’s numbers). As of today, Stephens County meets this threshold, but has not adopted a mask ordinance. Required exceptions are included in the ordinance, as well as limitations on enforcement. The EO allows counties to require businesses to post a notice of the mask ordinance, as well as a statement declaring whether a business consents to enforcement within the business. The model mask resolution only requires masks in property owned or leased by the county. Both models are based upon the ordinance and resolution the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) prepared for the cities, which may help with consistency in communities that decide to exercise this option. As of today, the City of Toccoa has not adopted a mask ordinance.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of seven hundred ninety-six (796) confirmed positive cases and twenty-four (24) 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: 4,690
Positive Results Received: 909 (721 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,716
Pending Results: 65

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 5 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics  
Tests Completed: 1,042
Positive Results: 169
Negative Results: 863
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.

 

 

August 27, 2020

1. Stephens County School Board Promotes School Attendance
When students are PRESENT they are ENGAGED and SUPPORTED! If you would like a sign for your home or business let us know and we will bring you one.
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2. Governor considers deploying strike teams to schools, colleges in event of COVID-19 outbreak
In this exclusive 95.5WSB Atlanta's New & Talk interview Gov. Brian Kemp said he is considering creating mobile testing strike teams to deploy to schools, colleges and universities in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. The strike team could also be used at long term care facilities or at other potential hotspots. Kemp told Channel 2′s Richard Elliot that he’s worried about what he’s seen at some schools across the state with large gatherings of students. This comes as the governor also looks at ramping up overall testing that is down across Georgia. This is just in the discussion phase, nothing is official.  
 
3. Retail sector transactions fell sharply in Q2
National Real Estate Investor is reporting with all of the uncertainty around COVID-19, the economy and the future of retail, investors hit the pause button on new deals as investment activity plunged further. Retail investment sales volume was already weak in 2019, when it experienced the biggest drop of any major property type. Transactions in the retail sector dropped 73% year-over-year to $4.6 billion last quarter, according to Real Capital Analytics, which monitors properties priced at $2.5 million and up. Investors who were active in the sector during the quarter tended to focus on secondary and tertiary markets, RCA notes. Full Story: National Real Estate Investor online (8/20)
 
4. Recycling efforts change the life cycle of PPE
According to this Grist article, experts are raising concerns that huge quantities of single-use plastic personal protective equipment we're using during the pandemic are causing us to backslide on progress toward eliminating plastic waste. But some organizations are exploring ways to give used PPE a new life -- as fuel or environmentally friendly building materials. A design firm in Thailand is going one step further, using already discarded plastic to create PPE that can later be recycled. Full Story: Grist (8/7),  Business Insider (8/19),  The Logical Indian (India) (8/24)
 
5. Census Bureau Adapts Operations to Ensure Everyone Is Counted
As the U.S. Census Bureau continues to monitor the impacts COVID-19 has on 2020 Census operations, changes to operations are being deployed to ensure the safety of staff and the public while maximizing the number of households that respond on their own to the 2020 Census. “We are taking steps and adapting our operations to make sure everyone is counted, while keeping everyone safe,” said Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham. “Our commitment to a complete and accurate 2020 Census is absolute. In this challenging environment, we are deploying these tactics to make sure we reach every household in every community. If you haven't responded, the time to respond is now! Responding to the 2020 Census online, on paper, by phone, or in person with a census taker, helps secure vital resources for your community."



 If you know someone who has not yet responded, please encourage them to do so today online at 2020census.gov, over the phone, or by mail.
 
6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of seven hundred seventy-eight (778) confirmed positive cases and twenty-two (22) 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: 4,655
Positive Results Received: 908 (720 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,710
Pending Results: 37

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 5 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 1 other who is hospitalized awaiting test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics  
Tests Completed: 1,042
Positive Results: 169
Negative Results: 863
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 26, 2020

1. Federal unemployment checks to resume
According to this Capitol Beat News Service article, unemployed Georgians will soon begin receiving enhanced federal unemployment benefits that were cut off at the end of last month when the program expired. The $300 weekly supplements will come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through the Lost Wages Assistance Program, a new grant initiative President Donald Trump announced after Democrats and Republicans in Congress couldn’t reach agreement on a new coronavirus relief package. “This news is truly life-changing for hardworking Georgians in every part of our state,” Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said. “We deeply appreciate the Trump administration’s leadership to help us provide timely unemployment assistance to families weathering the economic impact of this pandemic.” 
“The Georgia Department of Labor will deliver a system meeting the new FEMA guidelines to process these weekly supplements as quickly as possible,” state Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said. “We will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Labor, FEMA, and Governor Kemp’s office to provide financial support for Georgians during this pandemic.” The labor department anticipates programming to begin this week and implementation to be completed within three to four weeks.
The benefit will be limited to three weeks, with the availability of additional benefits depending on the availability of remaining FEMA funds. States will be required to request additional disbursements weekly after the introductory three-week period of benefits are distributed. Eligibility for the new program is based upon an individual’s weekly benefit determination – an amount calculated by a claimant’s reported wages. Individuals must have received a weekly benefit of at least $100 to be eligible. Also, the recipient must be unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals do not need to call or apply separately for this benefit. Information on the new program can be found on the agency’s web page at www.gdol.ga.us.

2. Reports of Georgians using disinfectants for COVID-19 prompts Governor warning
Gov. Brian Kemp’s office is warning Georgians not to ingest the bleach-like chemical chlorine dioxide following reports of people using the cleaning substance in an attempt to treat COVID-19. The warning came Monday after state public-health officials received reports of people ingesting diluted chlorine dioxide, the active ingredient in certain disinfectants for drinking-water treatment and other industrial uses. Ingesting chlorine products can lead to respiratory failure, potentially fatal abnormal heart rhythms, dehydration leading to life-threatening low blood pressure, liver failure, low blood cell counts, severe vomiting and severe diarrhea.
Those products are being marketed under the following names: MSS, Miracle Mineral Solution, Master Mineral, Water Purification Solution, CDS, and Aqueous Chlorine Dioxide.
 
3. What's an antiseptic?
An antiseptic is a substance used to kill microorganisms and bacteria, typically on the skin. By contrast, a disinfectant is typically used on inanimate objects and surfaces. When in doubt about the difference, be sure to read all product instructions to be sure where it’s safe to spray or slather a particular substance.What
 
4. Atlanta’s Phoenix Parking Solutions adapts CDC guidelines to valet parking industry
We don't have a lot of valet parking in Toccoa-Stephens County, but I thought this was an interesting summary of what Atlanta's valet parking company Phoenix Parking Solutions is doing to gain customer comfort.
  • As guests pull up to the valet stand, an Atlanta's Phoenix Parking Solutions valet driver approaches the car wearing a mask and opens the door handle using a sanitizing wipe before backing away (a minimum of six feet) as guests exit the car.
  • Guests provide their cell phone number to the valet instead of receiving a paper ticket, and the valet enters the make, type and color of the car while a license plate reader scans the car's plate as an additional measure for tracking the vehicle.
  • Guests then enter their destination as the valet enters the car using a disposable sanitizing cloth to wipe down the interior handle, steering wheel and gear shift. The valet parks the car and wipes down the keys, sanitizes hands and throws the wipe in the trash. All sanitizing wipes used are non-scented, non-abrasive and will not harm vehicles.
  • Once guests are ready to leave, they will open the text message confirmation received from Phoenix upon arrival and click on the link to request their car and pay the valet fee and tip.
  • Guests must show this confirmation screen, which features the ticket number in large numbers on a green screen for those who have paid or a red screen for those who have not, to the masked valet. The large text and color-coded system allows valet drivers and guests to stand a safe distance from one another during this process. Guests then close their car door and have the option to receive a receipt and parking summary via email.
  • Guests also have the opportunity to review their experience when they pay. The reviews are internal and allow Phoenix to constantly monitor and improve services based on customer feedback.
5. Transforming Your Thinking From Crisis to Opportunity
This IndustryWeek 
article by author and founder of Myrtle Consulting Group Edwin Bosso reminds us the pandemic continues to create a ripple effect across every industry. In addition to the staggering revenue declines, loan defaults and job losses, COVID-19 has uniquely impacted supply chain management. In the beginning, it induced simultaneous and sudden drops in both supply and demand, resulting in deflation and creating a negative spiral, presenting new challenges for supply chain leaders. By mid-March, more than 75% of companies reported significant disruptions to their supply chains. In response, many have had to revisit supply chain fundamentals related to inventory, procurement, manufacturing and distribution and customers.

Embracing change, especially with little time to prepare, is not easy. Most of the change we encounter as leaders occurs in relatively slow motion compared to what we are dealing with today. We typically have time to think through the drivers of change, identify possible solutions and plan; yet, the rapid change we’ve faced this year has required us to adapt almost instantaneously. This transition presents the opportunity for an honest assessment of vulnerabilities in your organization, pre-pandemic gaps that needed to be corrected, and changes you were contemplating before the crisis hit. While the pandemic has magnified many issues, it has likely brought to light problems that existed in your organization for a long time but went unaddressed.  

Instead of thinking about the crisis in isolation, identify all of the issues that have held your business back, regardless of their timing. With this reflection and understanding, you’ll be ready for more meaningful transformation. Bosso recommends utilizing the three-step approach he details in his book on business transformation, 
6,000 Dreams.  This method can help set you on the right path. First, create a vision of the improved state of your business. This vision should allow you to clearly articulate your ideas in a way that is held to the boundaries of time and space. Second, articulate the current state of your business into a clear description. Focus on both the positives and the negatives of your current reality. Being truly honest and objective in this exercise is critically important when establishing the current state. Third, explore the gap or contrast between where you are today and where we want to be in the future. Too often, we burden ourselves with the weight of reality and perception; we self-censor our inclination and ideas with objections. It’s important to redefine the reality in which you are operating and stay open to new possibilities, known by psychologists as cognitive reframing. This broader way of viewing and experiencing events, ideas, concepts and emotions allows you to find more positive alternatives.

With a clear vision for the future, everyone aligned to reaching the objective and openness to the journey ahead, the only obstacles are your courage, your willingness to act and your tenacity to battle unforeseen roadblocks. Your primary role as a leader is to help everyone adapt to the changing circumstances as they unfold and move the process and people forward in accomplishing the transformation. There will never be a right time to transform your business, but you’ll never have a better catalyst than you have today.
 
6. Coronavirus Pandemic Boosting Demand For Telemedicine, And Hospitals Are Hurting
What are the implications for manufacturing? This Bisnow article reports the coronavirus pandemic sped up trends in healthcare that had gone on for years, for instance, the growth of telemedicine and ambulatory services, forcing hospitals to adjust their operations accordingly. Patients are becoming increasingly comfortable scheduling virtual visits with their healthcare providers, according to Alicia Wilson, the vice president for economic development at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Health Care Systems. Before the pandemic, about 11% of patients accessed telehealth services. In the midst of the worst health crisis in more than a century, 46% of patients rescheduled their in-person visits online. The online views can take several forms, from injury triage to more formal consultations. “The advent of telehealth does change the way that health systems think about space and think about what it means to render care,” Wilson said. “We will be building virtual into the healthcare model.”
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of seven hundred sixty-six (766) confirmed positive cases and twenty-one (21) 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: 4,655
Positive Results Received: 908 (720 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,710
Pending Results: 37

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 5 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 1 who is hospitalized pending results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics  
Tests Completed: 1,042
Positive Results: 169
Negative Results: 863
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.
 

 

August 25, 2020

1. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its school guidance
The updated guidelines emphasize the importance of keeping schools open if possible.
Children less at risk
"The many benefits of in-person schooling should be weighed against the risks posed by Covid-19," the guidelines said. The available evidence from countries that have reopened schools showed that Covid-19 "poses low risks to school-aged children - at least in areas with low community transmission." It adds that in general, children are less likely to have severe symptoms than adults. The risk of teachers, school administrators and other staff will, however, "mirror that of other adults in the community" if they get sick, the guidelines said. Schools are still encouraged to make accommodations for staff and students at higher risk for severe illness that will limit their exposure risk. Schools are also still encouraged to divide students and teachers into distinct groups, if possible, that stay together throughout the entire school day for in-person learning. Alternative schedules or staggered scheduling may also be a good idea to limit interaction. The guidelines encourage schools to develop a protocol to monitor local Covid-19 data in the community to track levels of transmission and to make decisions about mitigation strategies and to determine if school closures may be necessary.
Keep open schools safe
Good hand hygiene is stressed. Learning stations and activities should have fewer students per group and students should be placed 6 feet apart if possible. The old guidelines encouraged the use of face coverings, but said that they might be "challenging for students." While the updated guidelines mention the challenge for some students, particularly younger students or students with asthma, it emphasizes that cloth face coverings and masks are "one of many important mitigation strategies." The consistent use of masks is most important when students, teachers, and staff are indoors and when social distancing is difficult. People should be reminded not to touch the mask and to wash hands or use hand sanitizer frequently. Clear face coverings may be preferable for teachers of young students, for example, when they teach students how to read. Clear face coverings may also be helpful for teachers working with English language learners and for students with disabilities.
Keeping it clean
Schools are encouraged to increase the frequency of routine cleaning and disinfection. They should also consider upgrades to ventilation systems or other improvements to increase the delivery of clean air. When the weather allows, schools should open windows and increase outdoor air circulation in the school. Fans can help and schools should consider running the HVAC system at maximum outside airflow for two hours before and after the school is occupied. Schools should, however, exercise caution in highly polluted areas.
A different kind of lunch
Cafeterias should avoid offering self-serve food or drinks. Meals should be individually plated or pre-packaged. Food service items like trays and utensils should be disposable if possible. If feasible, schools are encouraged to have children eat outside or in their classrooms, instead of in a communal dining hall. Schools should provide touchless payment methods if possible, hand sanitizer near the checkout, and foot pedal and no-touch trash cans.

2. The FDA approves emergency use of convalescent plasma—but we still don’t know how well it works
President Trump announced last Sunday that the FDA had issued an Emergency Use Authorization for convalescent plasma. This gives physicians the green light to use the treatment in emergency situations, though it's something most Americans can already get, and more than 70,000 have already received. Still, because there have yet to be large-scale randomized control trials, its efficacy remains unclear.
 
3. What's an antiseptic?
An antiseptic is a substance used to kill microorganisms and bacteria, typically on the skin. By contrast, a disinfectant is typically used on inanimate objects and surfaces. When in doubt about the difference, be sure to read all product instructions to be sure where it’s safe to spray or slather a particular substance.What
 
4. Georgia World Congress Center leads the convention industry in cleaning changes aimed at building confidence
This Atlanta Business Chronicle article reports that one of the largest facilities in the United States, Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center has demonstrated industry leadership in facing the challenges posed by the pandemic. It was the first convention center in the U.S. to receive STAR facility accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a division of the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA), a trade association for the cleaning industry. To achieve GBAC's STAR accreditation, facilities must demonstrate compliance with the program's 20 elements that cover approaches related to cleaning, disinfection, infection prevention, personal protective equipment and risk assessment strategies.As part of the STAR accreditation, facilities need to prove that they are not only using the proper disinfecting and cleaning products but that they are using them in the right way. For instance, letting the products "dwell" on bathroom surfaces 10 to 15 minutes before reopening the bathrooms so that the surfaces have time to thoroughly disinfect. It also involves more frequent cleaning of touch points such as entry doors — of which the GWCC has over 200. The staff is also wearing masks and other appropriate PPE and is going through constant training regarding disinfecting protocols — none of which Duvall sees as a temporary fix. All of these steps are necessary to boost consumer confidence.
 
5. Scared of going back to the office? Companies hope these apps will help
This Gwinnett Daily Post article reports that even before Covid-19, companies were preparing to make workplaces "smarter" for the internet-everywhere age, integrating functions like room temperature control and repair requests into new apps for employee use. Siemens bought California-based Comfy in 2018, part of its effort to create "personalized and responsive buildings." Yet the technology could quickly become mainstream as employers grapple with how to encourage often wary staff to return safely to their offices during the pandemic. "It's just taken on a new, heightened sense of importance," said Eddy Wagoner, digital chief information officer at the tech division of Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate consultancy that has its own app for clients. "People are embracing it more, or in fact demanding it, because of the uncertainty [and] that fear of coming back." Haueis said Siemens has held conversations with most firms listed on Germany's DAX 30, the country's elite stock index, about making its app available to them.
Comfy predates coronavirus and the workplace challenges it has thrown up, but some quick changes have allowed it to meet the moment. The app can be used to check in for work, so managers can monitor how many employees are present at their offices. Workers are prompted to report their plans and the floor they intend to work from before heading in. Comfy can also be used to call the elevator and request a floor, so employees can move throughout the building without touching buttons. Coworkers can locate each other within the office using data from sensors made by another Siemens company, Enlighted. Enlighted launched a contact tracing app called "Safe" in July that relies on sensors in ID badges to determine who may have been exposed if an employee tests positive for Covid-19. Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Siemens has raced to give its workplace app Comfy a makeover for the coronavirus era. "Comfy is used hopefully like WhatsApp," said Rainer Haueis, head of digital enterprise business at Siemens' smart infrastructure unit.
 
6. What is Remdesivir?
Remdesivir is a medicine used to treat Ebola that was approved for use in Covid-19 cases by the FDA in May. Preliminary data indicates that remdesivir may help speed recovery in Covid-19 patients, but the exact nature of its effectiveness is still poorly understood.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of seven hundred fifty-six (756) confirmed positive cases and nineteen (19) 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: 4,633
Positive Results Received: 903 (715 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,710
Pending Results: 20

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 6 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics  
Tests Completed: 1,042
Positive Results: 169
Negative Results: 863
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.

 

 

 

August 22, 2020

1. Stephens County Hospital Appreciation Gestures
COVID-19 has hit our community hard in the past few weeks. One group of people impacted is the staff at Stephens County Hospital. Employees have been stretched. They are working longer hours and covering all departments to provide the best patient care possible. To help show compassion and boost morale the Stephens County Hospital Foundation is planning several appreciation gestures. Some of these efforts will cost some money so they are asking area citizens and businesses for donations to support these various HERO appreciation projects. I have attached a letter from the Foundation to explain the current atmosphere and their goal. All donations are tax deductible and if you would like to contribute you can make a check payable to SCH Foundation. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
 
2. What we know, and don't know, about Covid-19 - and the pressing questions that remain
 
3. The odds of catching Covid-19 on an airplane are slimmer than you think, scientists say How
According to a study recently published in medical journal JAMA Network Open the chances of catching Covid-19 while on board a flight are actually relatively slim. This case series assessed a commercial airline flight from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Frankfurt, Germany, that occurred on March 9th, 2020. Among 102 passengers on a Boeing 737-900 aircraft were 24 members of a tourist group. Starting 7 days earlier, the group had contact with a hotel manager who later received a diagnosis of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). No member of the group had received a diagnosis of COVID-19 before the flight, and no measures to prevent transmission (eg, wearing of masks) had been applied. The flight duration was 4 hours 40 minutes. In another case, about 328 passengers and crew members were tested for coronavirus after it was learned that a March 31 flight from the US to Taiwan had been carrying 12 passengers who were symptomatic at the time. However, all the other passengers tested negative, as did the crew members. And while there have certainly been cases of infected passengers passing the virus on to an airplane's crew or fellow travelers in recent months, the transmission rates are low.
One explanation for the apparently low risk level is that the air in modern aircraft cabins is replaced with new fresh air every two to three minutes, and most planes are fitted with air filters designed to trap 99.99% of particles. Meanwhile, various new protocols have been implemented, such as face-coverings for both passengers and crew, which is mandatory on most airlines, temperature screenings, more intensive cabin cleaning, an empty middle seat on many flights, and limited movement in the cabin during flight.
 
4. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of seven hundred fifty-four (754) confirmed positive cases and nineteen (19) 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: 4,574

Positive Results Received: 887 (703 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
 
Negative Results Received: 3,581
Pending Results: 106

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 7 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 2 others who are hospitalized pending test results.

The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. It operates daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The number is 866-399-8938.

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

Stephens County Hospital Physician Group (SCHPG) Clinics can offer telemedicine visits if you are concerned about coming into a medical facility. For more information, please contact your provider.
- SCHPG – Primary Care: 706-282-5840
- SCHPG – Orthopedics: 706-282-5845
- SCHPG – General Surgery: 706-282-5830
- SCHPG – OB/GYN: 706-282-5860
- Currahee Pediatrics: 706-282-7337
- WorkWell Occupational Medicine & Immediate Care: 706-282-5815

NGPG Toccoa Clinic is reporting their statistics  
 
Tests Completed: 1,042
Positive Results: 169
Negative Results: 863
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?

 

August 21, 2020

1. Georgia Governor Kemp Continues To Push Back On Trump Administration Coronavirus Report
In this WABE report, Gov. Brian Kemp is pushing back on the latest report from the Trump administration recommending that Georgia take more aggressive action to slow the spread of the coronavirus. He insists the state has made progress in slowing the spread of the coronavirus, but federal officials and public health experts say those gains could easily disappear. The latest report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, obtained by WABE, says Georgia leads the nation for the most new cases of COVID-19. As of Sunday, the state had 216 new infections for every 100,000 people, which was more than double the national average. In a heated press conference Wednesday, Kemp told reporters his main objection with the report is that it doesn’t tell the whole story of the pandemic in Georgia. “If you want to put the per capita numbers out there, I look at them every day, that’s good,” he said. “But when you put that out there, also put that our hospitalizations have dropped.” A WABE analysis of data from the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency shows active hospitalizations have declined about 16% since a peak in late July.

2. Employees Want COVID Workplace Safety Notifications
According to this IndustryWeek article, two separate surveys — one, a survey of 1,226 employed U.S. adults conducted online by The Harris Poll, and the other, a global survey of 3,903 employees across 10 countries conducted by Workplace Intelligence — help to debunk a misconception around COVID-19 contact tracing, which suggests employee privacy concerns outweigh safety concerns.the question for employers is not “should we,” but “how should we approach contact tracing?” In order to safeguard organizational safety, around half of employees (48% globally; 50% in the U.S.) say they are “very” or “a great deal” comfortable with a workforce management approach, i.e., allowing their employer to use their work schedule records to identify and manage employees who have been exposed to the virus at work and to help prevent onward transmission. Employees are equally accepting of employer-led contact tracing using access control/workplace movement records (48% globally; 51% in the U.S.), while 2 in 5 employees (39% globally; 40% in the U.S.) are “very” or “a great deal” comfortable allowing their employer to leverage their mobile device for contact tracing purposes. Generation Z and Younger Millennials worldwide consistently report greater comfortability with various forms of contact tracing than do their generational counterparts (49% and 48%, respectively, are at least “very” comfortable), as do employees based in India (66% are at least “very” comfortable) compared to other countries surveyed. Finally, only 14% of employees worldwide are “not at all” comfortable with contact tracing at work.
 
3. Depression in British adults may have doubled during coronavirus pandemic
CNN is quoting a new report from the UK's Office for National Statistics that shows 19.2% of British adults likely had some form of depression in June, up from 9.7% before the pandemic. Additionally, nearly 13% developed moderate to severe depressive symptoms during that time. The figures speak to the toll the virus has taken on mental health around the world, even among people who were never infected with Covid. I know you are already doing this, but keep checking in on your employees during these crazy/scary times.

4. Does your company have a long-term plan for remote work?
This story is available via the Harvard Business Review. Covid-19 has shown many companies that their workers can be just as productive — or in some cases, even more so — working from home. Are we on the brink of a new work paradigm? Remote work is currently helping companies muddle through the current situation, but what do they want from it in the long run? Higher productivity? Savings on office space, travel and cost-of-living adjusted salaries? Better morale and higher retention rates? To know what’s “best” for your organization’s future when it comes to remote work, it must be put in the context of all the things that you are looking to achieve. In other words, you have to have a conscious aspiration. Then you need to think and plan according to that aspiration. Such an approach allows leaders to fully articulate what they hope to achieve with a new work system and then design its major components unencumbered by how things work today or have worked in the past. Once they have developed their vision, they need to consider all the things that would have to be true for that vision to be achievable, then test those assumptions with initiatives they can begin today. The process unfolds in four distinct stages:
What is your overall vision of your ideal work system of the future?
At this stage you are articulating your grand purpose and envisioning what the new system will look like. Your initial aim is simply to develop clarity about your intended future, not achieve analytic certainty.  
Consider the implicit and explicit assumptions you are making
As Donald Rumsfeld famously put it, there are known knowns and known unknowns that must be taken account of; in addition there are also unknown unknowns. Work through each of them, bringing to the surface as many of those known and unknown unknowns as you can.
Test those assumptions
What do you need to learn and how can you best do it? To answer these questions, walk your vision and its key assumptions back to the present in the form of experiments.
Use the learning from these experiments to adjust or pivot your system’s components and your vision itself
Through this iterative process of exploring, envisioning and testing, you will ultimately discover your best way forward. This learning will be an ongoing process, not a discrete event, unfolding over time as your assumptions are converted to knowledge.

5. Goodbye birthday candles, ball pits and shared drinks?
Social distancing and other related behaviors that are becoming habits for many could persist for as much as a decade after the pandemic, says social work professor Michael Sherr. Our newfound awareness of germs and hygiene could spell an end for blowing out birthday candles, letting children play in ball pits, sharing drinks or greeting friends by shaking hands, hugging or kissing. "I think we're reaching a tipping point where society and communities have to think about what we're going to be OK with, what're not," Sherr says. Full Story: Spectrum News (8/13),  WSYX-TV (Columbus, Ohio) (8/12),  CNN-News18 (India)/New York Times (8/12)
 
 
6. Quote for the Day
"We need to rethink how we're taking care of ourselves, how we're taking care of each other, how we're taking care of our communities -- we're going to need to rethink how we're showing up with each other." Brené Brown, author and leadership guru, on human needs during the pandemic
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of seven hundred twenty-seven (727) confirmed positive cases and nineteen (19) 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: 4,493
Positive Results Received: 883 (699 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,558
Pending Results: 52

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: 981
Positive Results: 148
Negative Results: 823
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.

 

August 20, 2020

1. Georgia universities waiting to establish COVID-19 threshold to move classes online
This Georgia Recorder 
article reports that with class back in session Thursday at the University of Georgia during the coronavirus pandemic, the University System of Georgia has not established an infection threshold that would force all classes online. Lance Wallace, the USG associate vice chancellor for communications, said the governing body of the state’s 26 public universities and colleges will make that decision as conditions change and after looking at data from local health officials in partnership with the Georgia Department of Public Health.


2. Georgia named state you're 'most likely' to be exposed to coronavirus, studies show
According to this WXIA 11Alive 
report, two different models, one from Harvard and another out of Georgia Tech, declare you're more likely to get COVID-19 in Georgia than anywhere else in the country. According to the Harvard Global Health Institute, Georgia leads the country in positive cases, with more than 25 cases per 100,000 people. Breaking it down, these counties are considered to be at a "tipping point," meaning medical resources are close to becoming overwhelmed: Hancock, Gilmer, Newton, Cherokee, Gwinnett, Clayton, Bartow, and Polk. These counties are considered to be at an "accelerated spread" -- with stay-at-home orders and/or rigorous test and trace programs advised: Fulton, Cobb, DeKalb, Forsyth, and Paulding. (Except for Hancock, all of these counties are in the Atlanta MSA.)
Another research study out of Georgia Tech uses a different model, but comes to the same conclusion. This model even has a tool where you can pick a county, then pick a group size to calculate your risk of being exposed to COVID. (I shared a link to this site in a previous daily update.) Some scientists say that reported cases are far below the actual number, because people without symptoms don't often get tested, so this tool even has a place where you can multiply the reported number by 5-or-10, to get a more accurate risk level.

3. How to revise vacation policies to protect employees
Companies can ask employees where they will be traveling as they try to protect co-workers from exposure to the coronavirus, but policies should be applied evenly and to everyone, attorneys say. "Employers should encourage good choices by employees, provide up-to-date information regarding policies and COVID-19 hot spots, and develop a plan for how to reintegrate employees into the workplace following time off," says Anthony Mingione, an attorney with Blank Rome. Please consult with your own legal counsel. Full Story: Society for Human Resource Management (tiered subscription model) (8/11)
 
4. Train your brain to survive coronavirus
Researchers have added neurological problems to the list of potential coronavirus side effects. The virus itself can affect brain chemistry -- as can the stress and isolation many of us are experiencing during the pandemic. But there's good news too. Experts say we can train our brains to resist or reduce pandemic-related issues. Mindfulness training -- especially in the gamified form offered by many smartphone applications -- can help reduce stress, improve motivation and protect attention and memory function. Full Story: The Conversation (8/14),  The Times of India (8/17)
 
5. July retail sales rose 1.2%
US retail sales grew 1.2% in July after surging 8.4% the previous month, according to the Commerce Department. Sales were above pre-pandemic levels, although growth slowed as a rise in new COVID-19 cases affected some reopenings. Full Story: Reuters (8/14),  CNBC (8/14),  The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (8/14)   
 
6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of seven hundred twenty-two (722) confirmed positive cases and nineteen (19) 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: 4,420
Positive Results Received: 868 (688 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,525
Pending Results: 27

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 7 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: 981
Positive Results: 148
Negative Results: 823
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 19, 2020

1. The Southeastern Conference announced its full football schedule for the 2020 season
I know football is not manufacturing, but this is an indication that our society is struggling to regain some normality. This Atlanta Business Chronicle article reports the SEC's slate of games after deciding last month to delay the start date and go with a 10-game conference only schedule to create as much flexibility as possible. The University of Georgia is scheduled to play their first game at Arkansas September 26, 2020. UGA has yet to announce seating capacity or attendance plans for Sanford Stadium this season but Athens businesses are already preparing for a significant dropoff in foot traffic. Four games are scheduled to be played in Athens, Auburn-October 3; Tennessee-October 10; Mississippi State-November 21; and Vanderbilt-December 5.

2. Other sports news
According to this Atlanta Business Chronicle article, the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United won’t be greeted by their fans when they return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Parent company AMB Sports and Entertainment announced on Monday that both teams will play without fans in attendance for scheduled home games through September. The wait could be longer, too, as the teams said they will address attendance at future games on a later date. The decision impacts two Falcons’ home games versus the Seattle Seahawks (Sept. 13) and Chicago Bears (Sept. 27). United previously announced that it wouldn’t host fans for its first three home matches when the 2020 season resumed starting against Nashville this Saturday.  The state of Georgia continues to see a rise in Covid-19 cases. With the MLS restart and NFL and college seasons fast approaching, all of these leagues are determined to develop plans that will mitigate the risk to groups of fans while welcoming them in the safest way possible after consulting with local government and public health officials.

 
3. Third sports note: Pac-12 joins Big 10 in postponing fall sports
The Pac-12 joined the Big Ten conference in postponing fall sports, including football, but the Big 12, ACC, American and SEC are still holding out for a fall season. One factor cited has been the risk of myocarditis, a heart condition that can be caused by viral infections. 



Full Story: CNN (8/12),  ESPN (8/11)
 
4. Experts say smell tests might help diagnose COVID-19
Anosmia, the technical term for the once relatively unfamiliar loss of one’s ability to smell, is now all too common. As this STAT article discusses, it has become a critical diagnostic marker of Covid-19. A principal objection against using smell as a clinical marker was that it appeared merely anecdotal, meaning there hadn’t been sufficient systematic studies establishing a robust link between smell loss and Covid-19 infection. In comparison, the number of people with respiratory issues was far lower than the number of people with Covid-19-related anosmia. At least half or more of patients worldwide with confirmed Covid-19 were diagnosed with full-blown anosmia. Smell plays a far more prominent role in our lives than we give it credit for. Many people don’t immediately recognize they’ve lost their sense of smell, but instead report they’ve lost their sense of taste. Most of what you think of as the taste of your food and drink, however, is actually due to smelling. When you chew, aromatic molecules are released from your food. These molecules travel up to your nose via the pharynx, the opening at the back of the throat that connects the mouth with the nasal cavity. What the workings of the nose show is that the mind’s experience is intimately linked to the body’s activity. It is only when the sense of smell disappears that we suddenly realize we’ve lost an important texture of reality that is hard to describe, mainly because it is not always at the forefront of the conscious mind.
 
 
5. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of seven hundred eleven (711) confirmed positive cases and nineteen (19) 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: 4,420
Positive Results Received: 868 (688 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,525
Pending Results: 27

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 7 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: 981
Positive Results: 148
Negative Results: 823
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 18, 2020

1. Governor Kemp Allows Local Governments To Require Masks – With Some Restrictions

According to GPB, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a 49-page order last Saturday that situationally allows for local mask mandates. At any time, local leaders can require masks on government-owned property, but the new language spells out specific thresholds before restrictions can go further. “This order also protects Georgia businesses from government overreach by restricting the application and enforcement of local masking requirements to public property," Kemp said. "While I support local control, it must be properly balanced with property rights and personal freedoms." In counties that have a sustained caseload of 100 cases per 100,000 residents for the previous two weeks, local governments can require face coverings in public and fine individuals up to $50 per violation, after a warning. Governments cannot enforce their mandates on residential property or private property unless the business owner consents. As of last Saturday, 157 of 159 counties in Georgia would now be eligible to enact public mask ordinances, according to Department of Public Health data.
 
2. Emory University, Grady Health, Children's Healthcare among Georgia sites in Phase III of Covid-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 trial
According to an Atlanta Business Chronicle article, Emory administered the first dose of the investigational vaccine at the Hope Clinic of Emory Vaccine Center this past week. Hundreds of adult volunteers 18 and older ultimately will be enrolled at three clinics: Hope Clinic, Emory Children's Clinic and Grady Health System's Ponce de Leon Center, according to a statement from Emory. Emory was part of Phase Iof the mRNA-1273 clinical trial, in which researchers' early results found the vaccine was generally well tolerated and generated an immune response among participants. The new larger study is designed to test whether the investigational vaccine can effectively prevent Covid-19 infection or prevent severe symptoms and death associated with infection. Participants will be randomly assigned to receive either the tested vaccine or placebo, given in two injections spaced 28 days apart. Eligibility criteria and a list of Phase III study locations can be found hereHere is Emory's list of Frequently Asked Questions about participating in the study.
 
3. How to run an effective virtual meeting: Stop blaming Zoom!
This SmartBrief article offers some practical advice. Long before COVID-19 entered the scene, requiring a significant portion of work and work-related communication to go virtual, meetings were an all-too-frequent feature of the business landscape. Our pre-pandemic research found that 77% of employees reported spending 25% or more of their time in meetings, while 42% were meeting at least half their day or more. And those numbers have only grown. Here are a few common concerns and frustrations:
Unclear meeting agenda or purpose. When scheduling a meeting, force yourself to summarize the purpose and objectives of the meeting. Share this information (as well as an agenda) in advance with participants so they can mentally prepare. And request the same from those leading meetings you’ll attend.
Unnecessary attendees For many leaders, meeting invitations follow a "more the merrier" philosophy, involving anyone and everyone who’s even tangentially associated with the issue. While inclusivity is generally welcome, bloated attendee lists are at odds with how stretched most people find themselves. So, when issuing invitations, remember that less just might be more. Consider who has the information, a stake or role in the outcome, and narrow your list accordingly.
Starting late
How a leader treats other people’s time sends a powerful signal of respect and value. Beginning on time honors the efforts of those who made it and sets an expectation with others for a timely start. (Same goes for ending on time.)
Minimal participation
Video conferencing only exacerbates a challenge that many leaders have faced for some time: finding meaningful ways to engage meeting attendees. In many cases, the reason is structural. In other cases, it boils down to facilitation skills. Our research found that the two most frequent meeting topics are "status updates" and "information sharing." So, ask yourself, "Do I need to deliver a message, or do I need to encourage the exchange of ideas among participants?" Only the latter demands a meeting.
But even when a meeting’s purpose aligns with the need for high levels of engagement, participation won’t occur by itself. It’s the result of a leader’s deliberate creation of an agenda, along with a series of open-ended questions and a strategy to ensure that everyone’s ideas and experiences are brought forward. This means shifting the balance of power (and the balance of conversation) away from the leader and toward participants. In fact, most meetings will benefit from an 80/20 split, with attendees doing the bulk (80%) of the talking while the leader uses his/her 20% for structuring, questions and recaps. Leaders must exercise conversational control in a facilitative way. They must liken their role to that of a conductor, intentionally bringing the contributions of each individual together into a cohesive melody.
Ineffective or nonexistent follow-up
And finally, given the investment made in planning, preparing and participating in meetings, everyone has a stake in making them pay off. So cross the finish line by recapping the meeting highlights, summarizing action items, and gaining commitments to next steps. Leaders should also implement clear follow-up actions and inter-meeting accountability and support.
 
4. FDA authorizes emergency use of saliva test
STATnews is reporting the Food and Drug Administration on August 15, 2020 
authorized emergency use of a new and inexpensive saliva test for Covid-19 that could greatly expand testing capacity. The new test, which is called SalivaDirect and was developed by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health, allows saliva samples to be collected in any sterile container. It is a much less invasive process than the nasal swabs currently used to test for the virus that causes Covid-19, but one that has so far yielded highly sensitive and similar results. The test also avoids a key step that has caused shortages of chemical reagents used in other tests. Yale intends to provide its “open source” testing protocol to laboratories around the country. Other labs can now adopt the method while using a variety of commercially available testing components that can reduce costs, speed turnaround times and increase testing frequency, according to the FDA. The Yale researchers have estimated it should cost about $10 to run a test.
 
5. How much will coronavirus waivers really protect businesses?
This CNN article in the Gwinnett Daily Report states, "We can start by checking how courts have treated waivers before Covid-19." You will want to consult your own legal counsel.
Ordinary negligence, or gross negligence?
Laws vary by state. But while a court might let a waiver protect a business for ordinary negligence, it generally won't for gross negligence or willful misconduct -- no matter what the waiver says. This is how ordinary negligence might look for Covid-19: A business disinfects its public spaces, but not as often as a government recommended. Or maybe it didn't enforce customers' social distancing as often as might be reasonable. Maybe, if other factors are met, a coronavirus waiver would protect that business from a lawsuit. But gross negligence might be a gym boss knowing an employee was sick, but letting him work with clients anyway. A waiver may not protect that gym, regardless of what's on paper. Some states also may consider whether a waiver is generally against public policy -- that is, against the state's interest in the health and safety of its citizens.
Is the language clear?
Courts also will weigh how easily understood the waiver is. "The question is one of fairness: Are they clear and understandable," or "are they 48 pages of single-spaced legalese?" said Elie Honig, a CNN legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor.
How free was the consumer to reject the service?
Courts generally will consider how realistically free a consumer was to turn down a service if they didn't want to sign a waiver. A court might invalidate a waiver for a customer who didn't have much choice. Compare two theoretical businesses asking consumers to sign waivers: a remote grocery store, or a gym. The consumer may feel free to reject the gym's waiver, and therefore its services, and perhaps go elsewhere for a gym. That choice may be harder in the grocery scenario, and a court may frown on that.
What if Congress passes a Covid-19 liability law?
If it ever did pass, it might seem to negate the need for businesses to get consumers to sign waivers in the short term. But, "any business is probably still going to ask for waivers. It's belt and suspenders" for the business.
Is there a difference between 'I assume all risks' and 'I waive my right to sue'?
The examples listed above say varying things. Some only include language about the consumer assuming all risk; some specifically say they waive their right to sue. Essentially, both are saying the same thing. But, again, gross negligence generally would nullify the waiver, regardless of how it is written.
An invalid waiver doesn't necessarily mean a winning lawsuit
Just as a waiver doesn't automatically mean a business is going to win in court, gross negligence doesn't necessarily mean a plaintiff is going to win a lawsuit for getting Covid-19. "You have to prove causation -- meaning that the establishment caused me to contract Covid. That's a very steep mountain to climb, because you have to prove that you got it from there." Coronavirus lawsuits might be more likely to succeed in cases involving confined environments like nursing homes or cruise ships, where someone might argue they couldn't go anywhere else, and therefore caught the disease nowhere else.
What to consider before you sign
• Read it carefully. "It should be in the kind of lay language you understand."
• Inspect the business, see if they're enforcing public health guidelines, and don't sign if they're not.
 
6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of six hundred ninety-six (696) confirmed positive cases and seventeen (17) 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: 4,420
Positive Results Received: 868 (688 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,525
Pending Results: 27

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 7 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: 928
Positive Results: 135
Negative Results: 785
Pending Results: 8
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 17, 2020

1. Coronavirus stimulus stalemate could drag on for weeks as Congress leaves town
Here are the key takeaways from this CNBC article: 1. Congress and the White House again made no progress toward a coronavirus relief agreement as financial lifelines for Americans continue to expire. 2. It could take weeks more for lawmakers to even agree on another aid package as no talks are scheduled and 2020 political conventions will consume the major parties for the next two weeks. 3. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she will not restart discussions until Republicans increase their aid offer by $1 trillion, a step the GOP does not want to take. 4. White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told CNBC that Democrats have asked for “too much money.”
 
2. New Guidelines on COVID-19 Employees
The Stephens County Hospital has released new information on employees with COVID-19. Please still use your own best judgement as well. It is now understood that an individual without symptoms, may return to work 10 days from the date of a positive COVID test. The hospital emphasizes, they must be without a fever for 24 hours, and a negative test result is no longer required. Scientists are now saying there is no evidence of viral shed (being contagious) after 9 days.

 

3. Updated Need from Stephens County Hospital
The hospital is starting to have supply issues with nitrile gloves in small and medium sizes. They are placing orders but frequently are being put on allocation or only receiving partial orders. They are reaching out to see if any of our local industries may have an avenue for ordering these outside the hospital's normal vendors.

 

4. Georgians Can Register for COVID-19 Testing at Mega-Testing Site and Others Sites

Check out this website: Do I Need a COVID-19 Test? to register for a test at the COVID-19 mega-testing site near the airport, with the capacity to test 5,000 people a day, as well as other testing sites, including those in Augusta, Macon, Stone Mountain, Oakwood, and Tucker.

 

5. CDC: Avoid masks with valves to stop the spread of the coronavirus
In the ever changing world of mask advice, a new warning from the CDC says that masks with valves do not stop the spread of coronavirus and should not be used. While valves may help make breathing feel easier, the valves allow air to escape the mask allowing droplets that contain the virus to spread to others easily. Cloth masks with no vent seem to be the way to go for now.

 

6. New Governor Executive Order
The governor signed a new executive order this past weekend that prevents local governments from enforcing mask mandates on private property.   

 

7. Stephens County Update

The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of six hundred ninety-six (696) confirmed positive cases and seventeen (17) 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: 4,360
Positive Results Received: 857 (679 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,478
Pending Results: 25

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 5 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 3 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: 981
Positive Results: 148
Negative Results: 823
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 14, 2020

1. Georgia Launches State/Local Partnership to Connect Students to the Internet
Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp joined State School Superintendent Richard Woods to announce Georgia will dedicate $6 million to help school districts connect their K-12 students to the internet. Funds will be used to purchase equipment for local school systems to improve connectivity options for students who do not have sufficient internet access at home. Access the full press release here.
 
2. Manufacturing Adds 26,000 Jobs – But We're Still Way Down a Hole
Factory layoffs “are becoming permanent rather than temporary," says the Alliance for American Manufacturing in this IndustryWeek article. The United States added 26,000 factory jobs last month! That’s good! But we’re still deep in a hole – a crater-sized hole left on employment by the advent of the coronavirus pandemic. The American economy has lost approximately 750,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector in the past six months. The official unemployment number, even after including the 1.8 million jobs created in July, is above 10 percent. That’s beyond bad; that’s terrible.  The economy is deep in a hole, and it desperately needs some help to dig out. Read the Alliance for American Manufacturing's COVID-19 relief policy proposals here.  
 
3. Five Signs You’re Building a Culture of Safety -- for a Pandemic and Beyond
This IndustryWeek article states that positive short-term actions and changes in safety processes can, over time, make a difference.
1. More engaged and empowered employees. This means that most people feel they are a vital part of the organization. Such interaction is conducive to leaders and employees willing to work together to create safety rules, guidelines, and practices, and then focus on identifying gaps in the processes and systems that make following those principles more difficult. By actively engaging your employees proactively, you will achieve true empowerment.
2. A greater emphasis on proactive measures and safety metrics. World-class cultures are more predictive and not reactive. How about putting a higher priority on leading indicators, such as: How quickly are we closing out open issues? Are we providing feedback to employees? Are we as leaders taking the initiative to have positive safety conversations? Building a culture of safety requires a proactive approach, with most of the learning provided on the front end.
3. Moving safety from “outside-in” to “inside-out”. A manager might tell his or her crew member, “I need you to wear your safety glasses because it is an OSHA rule.” This type of “safety management” is what I call focusing on safety from the outside in; it signifies caring less about the person and more about making sure they’re following the rules. It also dwells more on the “what I need you to do” rather than the “why it makes sense to do it.” The safety manager might show more empathy by saying something like, “Hey, I know it’s hot in there, and those glasses are fogging up and making it hard to see. But I don’t want to see you get hurt or lose your eyesight.  So let’s make sure you wear your glasses to keep you from getting hurt and set a safe example for others.”
4. Signage that relates safety to helping you AND others. Some signs yell at you with red zeroes with lines through them and the word “NO!” sprinkled throughout. Is it necessary to be condescending to employees to get the desired behavior? In world-class safety cultures, I think not. Signage urging employees to set a good example should get you the best results when it comes to signs – and conversations – about wearing PPE and other safety practices.
5. Safety that is made convenient. Putting temporary hand-washing stations on the way to the break room, for example, will make it easier to do the safe thing. Likewise, rerouting walkways so that workers walk in only one direction, and providing markers so that they know they’re staying six feet apart from each other, are other ways to achieve desired results. These are signs that demonstrate a company’s commitment to a safer workplace and building a world-class culture of safety.
Safety is about people. Having conversations rather than dictating rules. Helping employees look out for each other and focus on the “why,” not the “what.” It takes time to build a culture of safety, but it usually pays off!

 
4. HBR: 6 ways managers can support employees’ mental health
This Harvard Business Review 



article encourages managers to support their team members and their mental health:
BE VULNERAB
LE: One silver lining of the pandemic is that it is normalizing mental health challenges. The universality of the experience will translate into a decrease in stigma only if people, especially people in power, share their experiences. When managers describe their challenges, it makes them appear human, relatable and brave. Research has shown that such an authentic approach to leadership can help establish trust and improve employee engagement and performance.
MODEL HEALTHY BEHAVIORS: Model good practices so that your team members feel they can prioritize self-care and set boundaries. Share that you’re taking a walk in the middle of the day, having a therapy appointment or prioritizing a staycation so that you don’t burn out.
BUILD A CULTURE OF CONNECTION THROUGH CHECK-INS: Intentionally checking in with each of your direct reports on a regular basis is more critical than ever. Go beyond a simple “How are you?” and ask specific questions about what supports would be helpful. Wait for the full answer. Really listen, and encourage questions and concerns. They may not want to share much detail, which is completely fine. Knowing that they can is what matters.
OFFER FLEXIBILITY: Expect that the situation, your team’s needs and your own needs will continue to change. Check in regularly. Such conversations will also give you an opportunity to reiterate norms and practices that support mental health. Take a customized approach to addressing stressors, such as challenges with child care or feeling the need to work all the time. Being accommodating doesn’t necessarily mean lowering your standards. Flexibility can help your team thrive amid the continued uncertainty.
COMMUNICATE MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED TO: Make sure you keep your team informed about any organizational changes or updates. Clarify any modified work hours and norms. Make your team aware of available mental health resources and encourage them to use them. Be aware that shame and stigma prevent many employees from using their mental health benefits to seek treatment, so try to normalize the use of those services.
FINALLY, MAKE SURE TO MEASURE YOUR PROGRESS. Ensuring accountability doesn’t have to be complicated; it can be handled in a simple pulse survey done regularly to understand how people are doing in the present and over time. This direct employee input is important and can help shape new progra
ms.

5. Chief Justice Harold Melton Extends Declaration of Statewide Judicial Emergency Order
For the fifth time since mid-March, Chief Justice Harold Melton has extended for another month the Statewide Judicial Emergency that he first announced March 14, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  As previously, jury trials and most grand jury proceedings are still prohibited.  To review the order, click here.

6. State Election Board Gives Unanimous Green Light to Online Absentee Ballot Portal
Georgia’s State Election Board unanimously voted to approve a rule authorizing the Secretary of State’s upcoming online absentee ballot request form portal. The online portal, which is currently undergoing testing, will make it easier for both Georgia voters to request absentee ballots in the future and for county officials to process the dramatic increase in absentee ballots seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more here.
I'll monitor this situation carefully over the next couple of months and send additional information as appropriate, as voting in the upcoming November election is an important civic duty and privilege.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of six hundred seventy-six (676) confirmed positive cases and thirteen (13) 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: 4,360
Positive Results Received: 857 (679 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,478
Pending Results: 25

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 5 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 3 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: 928
Positive Results: 135
Negative Results: 785
Pending Results: 8
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.

August 13, 2020

 

1. Hotels ramp up tech methods to win back guests
Technology is front and center at US hotels seeking to recover from the pandemic and assure guests they are focusing on cleanliness and safety. Hotels are using digital room keys, electrostatic cleaning techniques, voice-activated digital assistants and other technologies to win back guests. Full Story: The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model)

2. Empathy is the key to fighting virus misinformation
Accurate information is critical in a crisis. Efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus have been hampered by misinformation -- especially among those searching for news on social media platforms. But many people perpetuating rumors and debunked theories are doing so with the best of intentions, sharing information based on their beliefs or experiences. An empathetic response that addresses the misinformation without criticizing intent or intelligence of the sharer avoids putting them on the defensive and increases the chance of changing their mind.  Full Story: Calgary Herald (Alberta) (8/10),  Mother Jones online (8/7),  Nieman Journalism Lab (8/10) 
 
3. Got 5 minutes? Here are ways to de-stress
The ongoing pandemic is forcing us to confront a feeling that is never comfortable -- uncertainty. Working to shift your mood or focusing on negative predictions about the future can help us deal with uncertainty. Try paced breathing, listening to music or creating new routines to reset your thinking. Need something more drastic? Try dunking your face in cold water, which slows your heart and draws blood to your brain. 
Full Story: The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (8/6) 
 
4. Quote for the Day
"You need enough pessimism to anticipate difficulties and enough optimism to keep moving forward. (With great caution, of course.)" Dan Rockwell, leadership consultant, on the value of pessimism in a crisis.
 
5. Ex-Surgeon General Gives Landlords Tips On How To Outmaneuver The Pandemic
When the former surgeon general for the United States Air Force, Lt. Gen. P.K. Carlton Jr., who is also a medical doctor, was on active duty, he ran a top secret pandemic exercise. In an interview with Bisnow reporters, Carlton, who is now working directly with architectural firm REES, discusses how to best incorporate coronavirus prevention countermeasure techniques inside commercial buildings. The focus is on air quality. “My opinion is clean air technology is the key here, however it’s implemented," Carlton stressed to Bisnow. 



"We have not focused on the air as much as we should have focused [on it] originally.” “In terms of what we can do with the systems, we can exhaust indoor air that is contaminated at a higher rate and replace it with outdoor air." "That is ventilation. We can circulate the indoor air through filters that are of relatively high efficiency and remove particles from the air, and we can use some other technologies that inactive and kill microorganisms in the air.” 
"I think the best combination would be using a HEPA filter as one layer, using UV-C as a second layer, and then adding either bipolar ionization, hydrogen peroxide or hypochlorous acid or something of the sort. implementing a hydrogen peroxide cleaning strategy in the near future as a third line of defense in the office. To educate building owners, managers and operators, REES and Carlton have created a video and an online how-to advisory to share with clients across the real estate space. To accompany the video briefing and research report, REES has developed a solutions matrix to help organizations understand and prioritize the best technologies for various spaces. This matrix can provide a starting point for your organization to build a strategy to safely reoccupy your buildings and maintain a healthy indoor environment for the future. 
 
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6. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of six hundred sixty-three (663) confirmed positive cases and thirteen (13) 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: 4,289
Positive Results Received: 838 (661 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,421
Pending Results: 30

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 6 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 5 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: 928
Positive Results: 135
Negative Results: 785
Pending Results: 8
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 12, 2020

1. Assistance available from the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Extension Program (GTMEP) 
The Georgia Tech MEP is doing a study to understand the impact that the pandemic has had on manufacturers here in Georgia. This study would include the most senior leader at the local company to fill out a brief Company Profile form as an initial step. They would then schedule a time for an onsite or virtual interview with the company leader within 4-8 days after the profile form is completed. Georgia Tech would provide the company with an assessment report outlining observations, recommendations and potential resources that can support and assist the company with the most pressing issues or interests. Once they have completed several interviews and reports, they plan to also provide a benchmark report highlighting the collective findings from study.
Due to some Cares Act Funding through the MEP program, Georgia Tech is able to offer this at no cost to the company. If you are interested in participating in this study and would be willing to fill out the Company Profile form (attached below) and participate in an onsite or virtual interview just send Bill Nusbaum, Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP), bill.nusbaum@innovate.gatech.edu the filled out form and he will schedule a time for the interview.

 

2. Horseshoe crab blood is helping researchers battle Covid-19. (Really.)
This Triad Business Journal article reports on the efforts of Kepley Biosystems, a tenant of North Carolina's Gateway Research Park, to infuse clothing and masks with a functionalized molecule so that the garments can absorb and destroy a virus like Covid-19 on contact. Apparently  the microbicidal treatment for garments and upholstery is effective against an ever evolving array of viruses, fungi, and bacteria and can stand up to repeated laundering, ensuring the safety of wearers throughout the day. The research leading to these innovations stems from the study of horseshoe crabs, or particularly, the aquatic arachnids’ blood. 
"This invention has therapeutic applications as well, including: topical and aqueous antimicrobial nano-solutions for clinical use in the sinuses, as well as lavage rinses for gastrointestinal, bladder, peritoneum, pulmonary or other tissues with discrete vascular barriers. The hallmark example (for this is) as an extracorporeal hemofiltration technology to eliminate bloodborne pathogens without direct arterial, venous, or capillary administration," said Anthony Dellinger, president of Kepley Biosystems Inc. That is a highly technical way of saying the molecule Kepley Bio has figured out how to use –– it's called a fullerene –– has tremendous potential in medical procedures that happen outside the body in which a person's blood to a particular organ or part of the body is "cleaned" of pathogens. The molecule could work similarly in a fabric, such as PPE or blankets and beds in a hospital setting. 
 
3. Kemp affirms no mask mandate in public schools
As Stephens County students return to school today, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp stands behind his decision not to mandate masks for the new school year. During a press conference with U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, Kemp said it is up to local schools districts and superintendents to make the decision whether or not to require students to wear masks during in-person instruction. “We've given the responsibility to the schools and to the local superintendent,” he said. “Like most things in education, I'm a firm believer that the local governments know their school better than the state government does. We've been handling things that way for a long time.”
Kemp and Adams said COVID-19 cases are inevitable, whether you’re reopening businesses or schools. "When you reopen — whether it’s schools, or worship or sports — it's not if you have a positive test, it's when you have a positive test,” the U.S. Surgeon General said in Atlanta. “And it's how you react and respond to it.” Kemp said the reopening for many of Georgia’s schools this month went well, despite the photo of a north Georgia school that made national headlines. "I'm confident the superintendents have the tools, the resources and the masks that we have given them — as far as the state's concerned — to be able to handle (cases) at the local level,” he said.
Here a link to the Valdosta Daily Times article.

4. What data can tell us about reopening the U.S. for business
I've found a weekly report from BofA Global Research by Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. Economics, and her team. This report tracks and analyzes a range of data on a wide variety of topics from health to mobility to the economy to see what it can tell us about reopening businesses and economic recovery. Here is a link to bookmark the page and come back frequently to read the latest. Here's the most recent report:
Cautiously Optimistic
At last, the daily new coronavirus cases are trending down in the U.S, giving us hope that the social distancing, mask-wearing and more cautious reopening of economies in afflicted states are starting to work. Average new daily cases for the U.S. is at 60,500, down 9% from a week ago and latest data suggest the number of deaths and hospitalizations are also slowing. Although we’re not out of the woods yet, with the U.S. still reporting the most new cases of any country and case growth accelerating in portions of the Midwest and Northeast, we are cautiously optimistic that we may be turning a corner. If the downward trend in daily cases continues, we could see states progress with the reopening process, lifting the economy after stalling in mid-June.
Painting by Numbers
First the good news. We still have a strong housing market, gradual recovery in manufacturing activity and even OpenTable recorded an increase in the number of people dining in restaurants across the country in the past week, especially in the Northeast and West. Yet consumer behavior and spending continue to point to a slowdown in activity in July versus June, and previous gains in people’s mobility are also slowing. Both the Dallas Fed mobility index and Google mobility measures have been moving sideways since late June. Air passenger numbers also appear to have stalled at levels about 74% lower than they were a year ago. As for jobs, small business employment moved sideways in the past week with Homebase data showing that small business employee numbers are still 23.4% lower than they were before the pandemic. There are also 21% fewer small businesses open today than at the beginning of this year. We also looked at data from Kronos, a workforce management software company for 30,000 clients with more than 3 million employees. Kronos reported a 10% drop in the number of employees punching in for work in the past week, compared with levels in mid-March. The bottom line is that jobs gains appear to be getting even tougher to come by in the second half of July and early August. This means we could start to see a deceleration in the official payroll statistics in coming months, as the economy reckons with the shock from the coronavirus. To learn more, download their weekly 13-page Economics of Reopening report.
 
5. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of six hundred fifty-five (655) confirmed positive cases and thirteen (13) 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: 4,289
Positive Results Received: 838 (661 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,421
Pending Results: 30

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 6 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 5 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: 928
Positive Results: 135
Negative Results: 785
Pending Results: 8
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 11, 2020

1. President Trump Signs Four Executive Orders. Here's What's In Them.
  • Unemployment benefits are extended. The amount, however, has dropped to $400 a week.
  • Payroll tax cuts will go into effect on September 1, 2020 for those making $100,000 or less.
  • Student loan payments are suspended through the end of the year. Interest rates will remain at zero percent.
  • The housing moratorium has also been extended, protecting renters from being evicted.
2. The Airport of the Future Will Have No Check-In or Security Lines
The pandemic pause in travel may actually fix flying for the long term, say experts. Now that forecasts predict tourism won’t fully recover until 2023, airports are getting a rare, low-traffic chance to make many of the changes flyers have long wanted—along with upgrades they never imagined. Among them: disinfection booths, biometric security scans, automated customs and border patrol screenings, and enhanced self-check-in stations. Together, they represent the most significant overhaul of the airport experience since September 11, 2001. Read the full Bloomberg Business article here.
 
3. One Question: What are the ways Covid-19 spreads?
This WIRED SCIENCE Coronavirus Update reports we know that the virus is passed from person to person when someone coughs or sneezes, or when someone touches a surface it has landed on. But there’s still some uncertainty about how likely the virus is to spread through air and whether your risk of catching it is the same when you’re outdoors. Outbreaks spread exponentially at first but that rate slows over time, especially if additional measures are taken to flatten the curve. And some researchers are exploring the possibility that the virus could return seasonally like the common cold. Check out these embedded links.
 
4. US Job Recovery Slowed Dramatically in July as New Cases Spiked
This IndustryWeek article reports manufacturing added only 26,000 jobs in July, a swift deceleration compared to June gains of more than 300,000. The U.S. added 1.8 million new jobs and the unemployment rate fell 0.9 points to 10.2% in July. Despite the growth in jobs, the figure, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, marks a sharp deceleration compared to June’s recovery, which saw the U.S. add 4.791 million new nonfarm jobs. Manufacturing added 26,000 new jobs in July after adding 356,000 positions in June. Despite growth in May, June, and July, unemployment remains 6.7 points higher than it was in February, and the Department of Labor says that 10.6 million more people are now unemployed than were in February. In manufacturing, durable goods added 15,000 new net jobs, almost 20 times fewer than it added in June (290,000). 
 
5. How will the U.S. distribution warehousing sector adapt to changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic?
John H. Boyd in this Supply Chain quarterly article identifies some of the key trends that he sees having an impact on site locations and design decisions.
MOVE TOWARD RESHORING
Reshoring of manufacturing and supply chain operations from China back to the U.S. will pick up. We predict a heightened interest in warehouse sites near centers of U.S. manufacturing and agricultural production, especially in our nation’s central region.
WEAKENED ECONOMY
Interest in keeping a close eye on cost efficiencies and operating costs will intensify in the weakened COVID-19 economy. As a result, companies may favor lower-cost cities and states with more favorable tax regimes for their supply chain facilities. Site-seeking companies need to be on guard for major tax hikes and toll increases in the months ahead. Those states hardest hit by COVID-19 will face unprecedented budget challenges and will be searching for new revenue sources. At the same time, the weakened economy may also open up new sources for distribution sites. Some of the nation’s most attractive commercial real estate will be the many millions of square feet of retail space that will not be coming back after COVID-19. Developers will be especially quick to repurpose former malls and “big box” stores. These sites may prove attractive to developers due to their low cost, highway access, and truck and employee parking accommodations.
THE ROLE OF RISK MANAGEMENT
Companies have long taken into account such considerations as the integrity of the physical site, insulation from natural disasters, and political stability when choosing where to locate a warehouse or distribution center. The pandemic, however, will greatly expand the boundaries of risk management and its role in site selection. It will now need to include a range of COVID-related considerations like transitioning to new suppliers and/or customers as well as transitioning away from some that may go out of business due to COVID. Similarly, DC design and management will need to consider a myriad of human resource factors related to the impact of the virus on the DC’s workforce and local labor market as a whole.
RISING IMPORTANCE OF THE COLD CHAIN
COVID-19 will change not only where warehouses and DCs are located but also how they are designed. We are seeing unprecedented interest in the cold chain from investors and site-seeking industries like pharmaceutical and food. We expect to see many consumers continue to order perishables, including frozen food, online. Additionally, pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms are developing a wide range of new products that rely on cold storage throughout the entire supply chain. Biologics—drugs and medicines developed from living organisms—are also driving new cold storage demands. The cold chain will become even more critical when the much anticipated COVID-19 vaccine is developed, and the pharmaceutical supply chain has to handle distribution of an unprecedented number of dosages.
TECHNOLOGY AND CONNECTIVITY
COVID-19 is also causing a spike in warehouse automation. Some companies are turning to robots to help maintain social distancing and keep workers safe within the warehouse setting. Greater use of robotics will also be encouraged by the COVID-19-driven reshoring of manufacturing and supply chain facilities back to the U.S. This type of automation will help companies offset higher U.S. operating costs, principally in the area of labor. COVID-19 has also accelerated the trend toward remote working, which will have a significant impact on the U.S. commercial real estate industry. As more employees work from home, the demand for office space decreases. For warehousing projects, we expect to see less space allocated to other back office functions (such as accounting, sales, and customer service) that may be co-located at the site.
REWRITING THE SCRIPT
It’s important to remember that no one saw this coming. There’s been no script for supply chain players to follow when it comes to reacting to and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead supply chain companies and their consultants have been writing a new script each and every day.

 
6. Employee Burnout
If ever there were a good time to introduce or expand mental health and wellness programming in the workplace, 2020 is it. Care providers say anxiety and depression are at an all-time high if you combine the stresses around the worldwide spread of Covid-19, the resulting impact on jobs, child care and physical health, and the racial equity protests and related events. "Even if someone is employed and at work, we don’t know what is going on in the home," said Brandi Godbee, lead therapist at Victim Service Center of Central Florida in Orlando. “There could be a partner, spouse or other family member who lost income." The Orlando Business Journal talked with executives about how they are managing mental-health issues within the workforce, and beyond, and what they are doing to prevent employee burnout.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of six hundred twenty-three (623) 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: 4,218
Positive Results Received: 820 (643 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,363
Pending Results: 35

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 6 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 5 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: 928
Positive Results: 135
Negative Results: 785
Pending Results: 8
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.
 

August 10, 2020

1. Governor Brian Kemp Signs COVID-19 Liability Legislation (SB 359)

Last Thursday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed SB 359 legislation addressing COVID-19 liability. One of the provisions of the bill is a rebuttable presumption for assumption of the risk by the claimant if an entity posts specific signage at their point of entry. You are encouraged to consult with your attorney regarding the placement of signage in your facilities, but here is the required wording: WARNING UNDER GEORGIA LAW, THERE IS NO LIABILITY FOR AN INJURY OR DEATH OF AN INDIVIDUAL ENTERING THESE PREMISES IF SUCH INJURY OR DEATH RESULTS FROM THE INHERENT RISKS OF CONTRACTING COVID-19. YOU ARE ASSUMING THIS RISK BY ENTERING THESE PREMISES. For sample signage with the required language in one-inch Arial font (per the specifications of the legislation), click here. A pdf is also attached to this email. Note that this sample sign must be printed as an 18” x 24” in order to achieve the one-inch requirement as indicated in the legislation. If you don't have access to a printer/plotter that can print that size document, contact us. We'll help you get what you need.

 

2. Back to School in a Pandemic
This Washington Post article has some advice and this checklist:
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3. Guidance on Using CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a COVID-19 Data Tracker that allows you to explore the cases and deaths from the virus by state.  Alison Kaye, an ACCG policy intern, put together a useful guide for navigating this data portal.

 
4. Manufacturing Marks a Second Month of Virus Recovery
Latest figures from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) show manufacturing’s economic recovery is progressing well. Their pricing manager’s index, or PMI, increased 1.6 points from June to 54.2%, indicating a second month of growth in the sector. The overall economy grew for a third month straight. Indexes measuring new production, prices, and order backlogs all increased. The manufacturing employment index also increased somewhat, but remained below 50%, indicating that it is still contracting, but at a lower rate. Read the full storyhere.
 
5. What to Know About Leading Coronavirus Vaccine Candidates
A typical vaccine could take more than 10 years to develop. Drugmakers want to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to market in 2021.
Roughly 140 coronavirus vaccines are currently in development globally, according to WHO, and more than 25 have started clinical trials. Once a vaccine candidate is proven safe, then it must be tested for efficacy, or how well it actually prevents the disease. Typically, half the people in a trial will get the vaccine while the other half get a placebo. If the number of virus cases is lower in the vaccine group compared to the placebo group, then researchers can determine its efficacy. Through Operation Warp Speed, the government's multiagency effort to develop and deliver a coronavirus vaccine, the U.S. has invested in a handful of candidates to increase the chances that the U.S. "will have at least one safe, effective vaccine by 2021. Some of those candidates have launched their final phase three trials after producing promising results in human testing so far.  Read the full US News & World Report
 here.

6.  Also in the headlines
Delta Air Lines Inc. has submitted a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act filing to the Georgia Department of Labor for the possible furlough of 816 pilots at its Atlanta pilot base. Driven by the ongoing impact of the pandemic on air travel, the separations would take effect October 1, 2020.
 
7. Stephens County Update
The Georgia Department of Health has reported a total of six hundred twenty-one (621) 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: 4,218
Positive Results Received: 820 (643 Total Patients have tested Positive, some have tested positive on multiple occasions.)
Negative Results Received: 3,363
Pending Results: 35

Additional Stephens County Hospital Updates:
  • The Hospital currently has 6 patients hospitalized at Stephens County Hospital who are positive for COVID-19 and 5 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.

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.