Charlton County woman treated, released, later tests positive for COVID-19

Patient didn’t meet initial criteria for coronavirus testing, hospital says

A 29-year-old Charlton County woman who went to Southeast Georgia Health Systems’ campus in Camden County on Saturday with respiratory symptoms was treated and released but returned to the hospital Monday and has since preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19, the hospital announced Wednesday.

On Wednesday night, the Georgia Department of Public Health announced there are now 31 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in 12 counties around Georgia.

Southeast Georgia Health Systems said the woman came into the Camden campus on Saturday and was screened following CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines and was treated and released. She didn’t need to be hospitalized and didn’t meet the testing criteria for COVID-19, the hospital said.

But she came back to the hospital Monday with worsening symptoms and the doctor opted to admit her and ask for her to be tested for COVID-19, even though she had no travel history or known exposure to coronavirus.

They are still waiting on additional testing to confirm but her preliminary test came back positive.

“While we await final confirmation, the Health System has been advised by GDPH to notify caregivers who treated this patient prior to isolation. In addition, although the risk of exposure is low, the Health System has made the decision to proactively notify all patients who may have had contact with any of these caregivers or who may have been in the Emergency Care Center at the time the patient was present in order to instruct them on next steps and address concerns,” the hospital said in a release. “Those individuals should monitor their health closely and if they begin to be symptomatic, they should seek medical care from their primary care provider or the Emergency Care Center. It is recommended that they call in advance of presenting to a medical provider so that precautionary measures can be instituted prior to their arrival."

The Charlton County Board of Education announced Wednesday that two close relatives of the resident hospitalized work for the school system. They will not be working “for a recommended time as an appropriate measure to ensure the health and safety of our school population.”

Some parents, like Catrina Williams, said the Board of Education made the right choice.

“I think they’re taking safety precautions with the parents and the kids, keeping us updated with what’s going on," Williams said. "If the kids are washing hands, sanitizing, I think we’ll be fine.”

Charlton County School System said it was providing custodians with additional training focused on sanitizing high-touch areas and working with school administration and nurses to ensure students and staff understand and follow health practices like frequent hand washing. The district encourages people in the county to visit charlton.k12.ga.us for the latest information about the county’s schools and COVID-19.

Student Desiree Stubbs said they’ve already been taking precautions.

“They made us wash our hands and get hand sanitizer and stuff like that," Stubbs said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

A second patient at the Camden campus was also tested but the results have not been finalized.

The hospital also wanted to assure the public that it is safe to seek care at the Health System’s campuses in either St. Marys or Brunswick. Charlton County’s only remaining hospital closed in 2013.

“We have the facilities and the expertise to care for those patients while protecting the safety of all of our patients, visitors and team members,” the hospital said. “The Camden Campus has negative pressure isolation rooms with specialized ventilation systems and our caregivers use personal protective equipment when caring for any patient suspected of having an infectious disease.”

One patient in Georgia to test positive for the new coronavirus has been isolated on the grounds of Hard Labor Creek State Park, the governor’s office said in a separate news release.

The news release said the patient is from Cherokee County and is isolated in a mobile unit. It said that state public health officials determined a specific part of the park would be best suited for isolation as the patient receives treatment. According to the governor’s office, the isolated site is closed to public access and closely monitored 24-7 by state law enforcement. Seven emergency mobile units have been deployed to Hard Labor Creek State Park.

“This site was specifically chosen for its isolation from the general public and ability to house mobile units in the short term,” GEMA Director Homer Bryson said in the statement. The individual was not able to isolate at their primary residence and was not in critical condition requiring any hospital admittance. The park is closed to public access and monitored by state law enforcement 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the statement said.

A worker at a Georgia Waffle House has tested positive for coronavirus, prompting co-workers to quarantine themselves in their homes, company officials said Tuesday.

The Canton Waffle House was temporarily closed starting Monday, said Kelly Thrasher, a spokeswoman for the Norcross, Georgia-based company. She said the company plans to reopen the restaurant on Sunday. The infected employee worked only one day — on March 1 — during the past two weeks and hasn’t since worked at any company restaurant. A total of 12 workers are self-quarantining at home through Saturday, Thrasher said, and are being paid for shifts they were scheduled to work.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.

One of the state’s largest school districts — Fulton County — closed all its schools Tuesday and Wednesday after a teacher at two middle schools was found to have COVID-19. According to data kept by Education Week, Fulton County is the largest school district to close nationwide. All of the district’s schools with the exception of two will reopen on Thursday, the district said in a letter to parents.

The KIPP charter school network in metro Atlanta also closed its schools Tuesday. A child care center in Acworth also closed after a worker tested positive, and Cobb County closed a library branch where a worker had contact with a child from the day care.

Two other Georgia school systems told parents that employees had gone into self-quarantine after potential contact.

In Paulding County, west of Atlanta, parents at McGarity Elementary in Hiram were warned Monday that an employee is in self-quarantine after contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Officials said they fumigated the school Sunday.

The Harris County school district, just north of Columbus, announced Tuesday that a middle school teacher had made contact with U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, who has self-quarantined because of potential exposure. Collins is seeking a U.S. Senate seat and visited Columbus on Saturday for a Republican Party headquarters opening.

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