At the July 13 Coffee County Commission meeting, Coffee County EMA Director James Brown updated the commission on the county’s COVID-19 numbers, which have doubled over the last month.
Brown said that Coffee County’s total cumulative cases, as of July 13, is 429 confirmed cases with 91 of those being active. That active number has doubled over the past month and Brown said that Coffee County has had 85 confirmed cases in the past 14 days.
Brown also emphasized that the total numbers released by the Alabama Department of Public Health are delayed and those numbers will likely continue to rise after numbers from the week after the Fourth of July begin to come in. The concerning thing about Coffee County’s numbers is that the rate of positive tests are going up, as well.
“Our active cases have pretty much doubled,” Brown said. “About 13 percent of those that are getting tested are coming back positive.
“People have said it’s because we’re testing more but if that was the case then the positivity rate should stay the same – which was at around 10 percent – but it’s not, it’s growing. We are having more cases.”
Brown said that the county is making plans for the worst-case scenario – meaning hospitals are overrun with positive cases – but emphasized that it is precautionary to be on the safe side.
“We always plan for the worst case scenario but hope it never gets to that,” Brown said. “With 429 cumulative cases that’s still less than 9/10 of 1 percent of the population (of our county), but when you look at the hospitals they don’t have enough space for everyone.
“If the rate goes up to even 3 or 4 percent of the population – and 10 percent of those cases are hospitalized – that we can be easily overwhelmed. So, we are planning for that worst-case scenario and praying we never get to that.”
While Brown said that cases are rising he also said that it is important that people don’t panic either.
“Panic doesn’t help us any but if people just listen to the things they’re being told we won’t have a problem,” Brown emphasized. “It’s when people don’t listen that we have a problem. If you feel bad don’t go into public. If you have been exposed to someone with it stay home and see if you have symptoms. Follow social distancing guidelines, wear a mask in public, those sorts of things.”
Commissioner Kim Ellis echoed Brown’s sentiment and said that it was about using common sense.
“Just use a little common sense in all of this,” Ellis said. “I think if we all did that then our numbers would go down and we could turn our economy around a little bit. Just use some common sense.
“Don’t get too close to anyone (in public), wash your hands and wear a mask. We’ve all been out in public and (a lot of) people just don’t respect that and don’t believe in it. For the sake of others, and for the sake of the elderly, let’s use some common sense.”
Smith also urged county residents to follow social distancing measures and wear a mask in public.
“It’s a personal choice, yes, but it’s also thinking about others, too,” Smith said. “Old folks like myself and people with preexisting conditions could be a little more susceptible than other younger folks.
“A lot of people are just completely ignoring it and we’re trying to keep these numbers down and keep the hospital numbers down.”
Brown also said that Coffee County EMA has been meeting with local school superintendents and applauding those schools’ reopening plans.
“The schools are ready to open up again and everyone has been planning for that,” Brown said. “We don’t know how easy it is for kids to get it or to pass it but we have to open back up at some point and I think all the plans are good plans.
“If we start getting more cases we’ll have to reevaluate that but I think we’re ready.”
In other business, the commission approved the engineering department – which is estimated to end the year $55,000 under budget – to purchase a 2013 bucket truck with 113,000 miles on it for $42,000. Also, the commission approved the sale of two surplus vehicles – a 2009 Dodge Dakota and a 2007 Ford F-150 – that are no longer behing used by the county.
The low bid of $11,067.50 for aluminized corrugated metal pipes was also awarded to Gulf Atlantic Culver Company.
The commission also reappointed Dean Blair and Russell Young to another four-year term on the Coffee County E-911 Board.
County Extension Coordinator Gavin Mauldin said that the county’s annual Grass Roots meeting will be held virtually this year. Mauldin said that a survey will be used to determined what extension programs will be needed for the county. To fill out the survey, visit www.facebook.com/CoffeeExtension.