State of the county following COVID-19 shutdowns

Community, Health

UNION COUNTY, Ga – Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris gave a brief update on how Union County is faring while many residents try to find a sense of normalcy.

Over the course of approximately one month, Union County’s cases grew by 20. Out of the 43, only eleven of those patients needed hospitalization and one death. Union General Hospital had one active patient as of May 22. Previously, multiple beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients.

“We’re very fortunate up here,” stated Paris. “The fact that we’ve only got one in the hospital is a great sign. Does that mean we’re only going to have one? No. Does it mean we’re out of the woods yet? No. But we feel that what we have done in the county is very preventative.”

The commissioner added that those over 65 and with preexisting conditions are still under the Gov. Kemp’s stay at home order until June 13.

“We just have to remember that this thing still is serious. My concern going forward is people are going to – like me, like all of us – are just tired of it. Just like wearing [masks] or not wearing [it],” expressed Paris.

He wanted everyone to continue to be cautious and follow social distancing. He did encourage masks wearing in public areas and to use common sense to try and flatten the curve.

“Employees at those stores are the ones who really notice it. They feel like if you don’t wear one, then you’re not concerned about protecting them,” said Paris.

Whether or not to open the Meeks Park pool is currently being debated because current COVID-19 protocols limit use to 50 people at one time. Also, all chairs must be disinfected each time the person using one leaves the facility. If the county decides to open, it might have to hire someone to sanitize all surfaces in and around the pool.

“It’s not only what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it, but it’s what’s the governor’s going to do. Is he going to loosen the guidelines or tighten the guidelines?” Paris commented on the rapidly evolving situation.

On a positive note, county sales tax revenue for April is slightly up from the same time last year. However, this isn’t expected to last. Also, the state still must unveil its 14 percent budget cuts, which will affect some areas of the county.

The city of Blairsville reported tax revenue numbers similar to last year as well. Currently, COVID-19 hasn’t significantly impacted the city’s budget, but again these numbers could change as the year progresses.

Across the board, it’s too early to determine the financial impact of COVID-19.

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