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Hall County Clerk of Court, another courthouse employee test positive for COVID-19
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Hall County court officials discovered Wednesday, June 24, that two employees in the Hall County Clerk of Court’s office, including newly reelected Clerk of Court Charles Baker, have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Other employees are awaiting test results. 

“The testing was requested after employees reported to their supervisor that they had potentially been exposed through social contact outside the office,” according to Court Administrator Jason Stephenson. 

Stephenson said no one confirmed or suspected with the virus has had direct contact with the public, and other employees potentially exposed have been notified. 

“As a precaution, and due to the close quarters of the office, Mr. Baker has instructed all staff to obtain negative test results before returning to work. All offices and public areas have been cleaned and disinfected,” Stephenson said. 




BY NICK WATSON

Nwatson@gainesvilletimes.com

AND NATHAN BERG

Nberg@Gainesvilletimes.com

The Hall County courthouse and a Scoutland day camp have taken protective measures after a handful of positive COVID-19 results, as areas around the county see more and more testing positive for the virus. 

Hall County court officials discovered Wednesday, June 24, that two employees in the Hall County Clerk of Court’s office, including newly reelected Clerk of Court Charles Baker, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Other employees are awaiting test results.

“The testing was requested after employees reported to their supervisor that they had potentially been exposed through social contact outside the office,” according to Court Administrator Jason Stephenson.

Stephenson said no one confirmed or suspected to have the virus has had direct contact with the public, and other employees potentially exposed have been notified.

“As a precaution, and due to the close quarters of the office, Mr. Baker has instructed all staff to obtain negative test results before returning to work. All offices and public areas have been cleaned and disinfected,” Stephenson said.

Anyone needing to do limited business in the clerk’s office  can do so from the first floor receipt room for this week.

The daily number of confirmed cases across the U.S. Thursday, June 25 closed in on the peak reached during the dark days of late April.

While greatly expanded testing probably accounts for some of the increase, experts say other measures indicate the virus is making a comeback. Daily deaths, hospitalizations and the percentage of tests that are coming back positive have also been rising over the past few weeks in parts of the country, mostly in the South and West.

Numbers have also been spiking locally.  

According to Dave Palmer, public information officer for District 2 of the Georgia Department of Public Health, DPH testing centers in Hall County saw 333 new positive cases of COVID-19 from June 12 to June 24, up by nearly 100 new cases from the previous 14-day period. Palmer added that the number only reflected tests done by the DPH, omitting tests carried out by private providers, and the actual number could be “up to three times that number on a given day as far as testing.” 

Northeast Georgia Health System said Friday, June 26, there has been an increase in new cases. 

The 14-day rolling average of cases hit a low of 18 new positive cases in late May. The current 14-day average, however, is at 38 new positive cases. 

“We also saw the number of confirmed positive patients currently being treated in our hospitals creep up to 75 on Wednesday, which is the highest it’s been since late May,” hospital spokesman Sean Couch wrote in an email. 

Health experts are continuing to ask people to protect themselves through avoiding gatherings larger than 25 people, staying home when possible, wearing masks in public places, maintaining social distancing, washing hands regularly, covering coughs and calling for health care information when needed. 

Palmer said the DPH believes a general relaxation by the public on preventative measures is likely to blame for the increase in cases.  

“I think a lot of people let their guard down, so to speak, when things started opening back up,” he said. “They took that as that they didn’t need to still follow the mitigation factors. A lot of people quit wearing masks. We had large gatherings that were over 50 people where there were people close together at beaches, the protests, other areas where people didn’t really follow the social distancing, the wearing of masks, those types of things. I think that has contributed to the rise in our numbers.” 

Palmer added that the number of cases is likely to continue increasing until people start taking mitigation strategies more seriously. 

“We’re trying to educate people and push the message out there, continue to social distance, now more than ever, as we start opening things back up,” he said. “People need to be following those strategies.”

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