5 deaths in Rabun now blamed on COVID-19

  • COVID-19 Update
    COVID-19 Update

CLAYTON—Five people have died so far in Rabun County as a result of COVID-19, according to data released this week by the Georgia Dept. Of Public Health (GDPH).

According to GDPH figures, 18 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Rabun County over the past week, bringing the cumulative total to 263 since march.

Of that total, 37 local residents have been hospitalized as a result of the disease.

“Confirmed COVID-19 cases” represents confirmed cases only, defined as an individual with a positive molecular test. Only molecular test results are used in identifying confirmed cases.

Of those who are confirmed positive, most recover, but exact numbers on recoveries is not available for Rabun County.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases for surrounding counties as of Wednesday included:

Towns – 18 new cases in the past week for a total of 192

Habersham – 29 new cases in the past week for a total of 1,297

Stephens – 55 new cases in the past week for a total of 778

Macon (N.C.) – 520 total cases

Oconee (S.C.) – 955 total cases

Following the success of his "Four Things for Four Weeks" campaign, Governor Brian P. Kemp this week urged 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.

"In July, I asked Georgians to do four things for four weeks to stop the spread of COVID-19. As expected, hardworking Georgians - from every part of our great state - rose to the challenge, and the data proves it," said Kemp. "As we look to the fall, it is absolutely critical that Georgians continue these four actions. With your help, we will beat COVID-19 and secure a safe, healthy, and prosperous future for our state."

In the past week, Kemp has allowed cities and counties to mandate mask-wearing in many areas except homes and businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several cities have joined Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah in requiring masks following Kemp’s decision last week to drop a lawsuit against Atlanta officials over masking rules and a rollback of shelter-in-place requirements.

Cities including Columbus, Milledgeville, Warner Robins, Smyrna and Sandy Springs passed measures in recent days requiring masks on city-owned public property, which squares with Kemp’s latest executive order.

Rockdale County also passed a mask mandate, and officials in LaGrange this week approved a measure authorizing police to enforce mask requirements at local businesses that choose to adopt them.

Other cities including Valdosta and Macon are poised to consider mandating facial coverings in the coming days. At least one city, Covington, has already shot down a mask mandate proposal.

The Georgia Municipal Association has not yet compiled a list of which Georgia cities have adopted local masking requirements but is working on one, according to a spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, Kemp has declined to issue a statewide mask mandate in the face of a White House coronavirus task force report drafted earlier this month that recommends imposing one, as the governor maintains his position that public mask-wearing should be strongly encouraged but voluntary.

“We take their recommendations, but it doesn’t mean that every governor is going to follow every one of them,” Kemp said at a recent news conference.

The governor has urged Georgians to wear masks, wash their hands and avoid large gatherings, and pressed local governments to enforce a statewide ban on gatherings larger than 50 people.