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Opinion: Data show it’s not time to relax social distancing in Hall
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Specimen Processors inside the Northeast Georgia Medical Center Core Lab test blood for the hospital's needs Friday, April 3, 2020, in Gainesville. The lab also performs coronavirus testing. - photo by Scott Rogers

As a retired public health physician and resident of a senior living community in Hall County, I was appalled to learn of Gov. Kemp's decision to relax the stay-at-home order by the end of this month. This decision will jeopardize the health and welfare of countless Georgians.  

Widespread testing, necessary to not only diagnose and isolate infected individuals but to understand the magnitude and scope of the epidemic, is not yet available in the state of Georgia.  

We continue to rank in the bottom 25% of all states in testing with a rate of 8.4/1,000 individuals and an overall positivity rate of 22.8% as of this writing. Florida, in comparison, has a testing rate of 13.3/1,000 and a positivity rate of 9.9%.  

Our public health infrastructure also is not prepared to perform the intensive public health measures needed to control the spread of this potentially deadly virus.  

Contact tracing and quarantining of all close contacts of an infected individual is essential to control this epidemic. Active surveillance for coronavirus infection in high risk communities and environments such as congregate living facilities (nursing homes, homeless shelters, jails and detention centers) and meat/poultry processing plants has not been implemented yet.  

Hall County, has a case rate of 450 cases/100,000 individuals compared to 135/100,000 in Gwinnett, and 96.4/100,000 in Jackson counties. 

As residents of Hall County, we need to be informed about any hot spots or clusters in our county and effective measures being implemented to reduce transmission and protect our residents.  

This is not the time to relax social distancing or stay at home orders.

Barbara Allen


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