Rabun COVID-19 cases are still among lowest in region

  • COVID-19 Update
    COVID-19 Update

CLAYTON—Though the cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Rabun County continues to rise, local numbers remain low compared to surrounding counties, according to the latest data available Tuesday evening.

A total of 57 Rabun County residents have tested positive for the disease since the Georgia Dept. of Public Health (GDPH) began daily reporting on March 13.

A total of 16 people have been hospitalized and three deaths have been reported for Rabun County as of this week, GDPH records indicate.

In Towns County, 58 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been recorded, but from there, the numbers rise dramatically among neighboring communities:

Habersham County 729

Stephens 269

Oconee (S.C.) 350

Macon (N.C.) 289

North Carolina is under a mandatory face mask order. Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order last week as COVID-19 numbers continue to increase.

The Governor's mask mandate is enforceable. Retail stores, supermarkets, construction sites, manufacturing plants, meat processing facilities, personal care businesses and restaurants will all be susceptible to citations and other penalties if all employees--and their customers--are not wearing a face covering.

In South Carolina, where COVID-19 numbers have been surging in recent weeks, neighboring Oconee County reported a 29 percent increase last week, including 16 new cases added on Tuesday.

In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp’s office has launched a marketing campaign for Georgia businesses to show they are keeping up good social distancing, sanitizing and masking practices amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The voluntary campaign comes as Kemp and state health officials continue urging Georgians to wear masks in public, though the governor has steered clear of issuing any mandatory mask-wearing order.

Kemp has faced mounting pressure from health experts and many local officials to take more mandatory measures on masks after steadily loosening restrictions on businesses and social gatherings since May.

He was scheduled Tuesday for conference calls with President Donald Trump and governors to discuss the coronavirus response, as well as with local government officials, business owners and faith-based leaders to talk about Georgia’s health guidelines.

“As we continue to fight COVID-19, we want to ensure Georgia businesses and the public are abiding by public health guidance in order to keep Georgia healthy and open for business,” Kemp said in a statement.

Per the “Georgia Safety Promise” campaign, businesses can request signs and graphics to post on their premises or social media. The idea is to show a business’ commitment to washing hands, wearing masks, sanitizing surfaces and having patrons and employees keep six feet apart.

The aim is to spread awareness of the importance of following health guidelines in Georgia amid a recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations following Memorial Day weekend.

“The promise to practice social distancing, to wear a face covering in public and to wash your hands is a small commitment that will have a powerful, positive impact on the future of our state,” said Georgia Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey.

The campaign’s purpose is also to inject more consumer confidence in businesses struggling to rebound from the economic fallout of the pandemic.

“Businesses can think of the [campaign] as a complimentary marketing asset that will help communicate your commitment to your patrons’ health and well-being,” said Karen Bremer, CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

Capitol Beat News Service, a non-profit service of the Georgia Press Association, contributed to this article.