Friday the Governor moved from a position of letting local governments determine their approaches to the COVID 19 pandemic to one of establishing the dimensions of a state-wide sheltering place. On Thursday, I had signed an amendment to the County’s Declaration of Emergency. The highlights of the amendment were (1) an extension of the Emergency to April 24th, the maximum length that I could issue the declaration without requiring authorization from the Board to extend it, (2) further definition of which non-essential businesses could operate and, (3) establishment of social distance requirements on food stores and encouraging other measures. Below is my message to the public after I signed the amendment.

The Governor’s Executive Order was effective until April 13th and superseded my extension of the Emergency Order. All other measures of my amendment were in line with the Governor’s order and remained in place. There were some who believed that the Governor’s order re-opened the County parks. However, our park closures were a separate action that were not part of the County Declaration of Emergency and not addressed by the Governor’s order. His order did not override all aspects of local control which is how some read his actions. In short, the State has oversight over state parks but not county amenities. That’s not to say that the State cannot do so; it just has not done so yet.

So, where are we? From my perspective, the County has taken significant steps to emphasize the essential action to mitigate this pandemic: Stay home. If we want to stop the spread of this virus, then people have to limit travel outside their homes, practice social distancing when they don’t, and appreciate that the virus still has the initiative and momentum, We don’t know who has the virus and how they are transmitting it. A clear example of this is the worrisome increase in the number of COVID 19 cases in nursing and long-term care homes. Despite the fact that most of them imposed severe access restrictions weeks ago, the virus has now found its way into many of them. This spread of the virus in these locations can have potentially catastrophic implications not only for those in those homes but also in overwhelming the capacity of our health care system.

It is now clear that from day one we should have been encouraging people to wear face masks. So not only have I limited my movements but I am also wearing a face mask when I leave my house. It has been wonderful to see the response of the public, including my wife Judy, in directing the efforts of their social circles to sewing masks. This effort is but one of the many ways that we can say that during the COVID 19 Pandemic we did our part.

April is going to be a month that tests our faith. Any thought that we shall emerge from this before the end of the month is whistling in the dark. I have little doubt that the Governor will extend his shelter in place beyond April 13th for one reason: the projected date that the virus will peak in Georgia is April 23d. I encourage you to seek your information from trusted web sites, not comments on social media. From my point of view, the vast majority of people in the County are taking the necessary precautions. But everyone needs to be doing so. By uniting in this common effort, we can begin to find our way back to a better time.

The below link to a front-page article in the Sunday, March 29th edition of the Atlanta Journal Constitution summarizes eloquently what a difference just 3 weeks can make in the lives of the people of Cobb County.
Read full article here.

On Tuesday, March 24th, when I signed the Declaration of Emergency, that required sheltering in place, the County had approximately 80 cases of virus. Tonight, as I type this update, we have 228 with 9 deaths. The reality is that these are only the cases of which we know because (1) we don’t have enough kits to test the whole County (2) it’s taking 5-10 days for the results to be reported, (3) there are people who are carrying the virus but don’t have any symptoms and (4) there are those who have the symptoms and are isolating themselves and we don’t know who they are.

We are moving inexorably to a point in which the capacity of our County health care system may be jeopardized. It is the responsibility of elected officials to take all the measures necessary to preserve the responsiveness of that heath care system. While I understand the desire to “get some fresh air”, the acts of civil disobedience by many who are using the closed parks, especially the Silver Comet Trail, to do so are only creating the conditions for a long-term recovery from this pandemic. Staying home and other measures of social distancing will work but only when everyone finally starts realizing that the virus has the initiative, is gaining momentum, and doesn’t play favorites, young or old. Whether it takes one month, two months, or more to defeat this pandemic is in the hands of the people.
Mike

All

In the interest of keeping you informed on a timely basis, the below is cut and pasted from the Cobb County web site with some minor revisions:

“Cobb County will transition to a limited operational status Wednesday, March 18, that will mean many publicly-accessible buildings will be closed, except for essential employees. County services will continue and public safety will remain fully staffed.

“We need to follow the latest public health guidelines and advice on how to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Deputy County Manager Dr. Jackie McMorris said. “This action will help protect both the public and our employees by limiting the number of people in buildings and public spaces.”

The change in operational status will begin at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, March 18, and will remain in effect until the county manager deems it safe to end. Department managers will determine which employees are essential and which employees can work remotely. The Cobb County Board of Commissioners approved policy revisions today that will ensure payment to those employees during this time, including those sent home to telework.

During a special-called Board of Commissioners meeting Monday, Commission Chairman Mike Boyce canceled Tuesday’s zoning hearing saying holding a meeting with a large group of people would send the wrong message.” Next Tuesday’s Board meeting on 224 March has also been cancelled. Below is the link to the video that summarizes the Board’s actions on Monday and some other thoughts

“Some highlights of the status change include:

  • Most public lobbies will close, and departments that take payments from the public will make arrangements to accept those payments by other methods.
  • Lobbies that must stay open will limit access to indoor spaces and require a six-foot buffer between employees and other patrons.
  • Libraries, senior centers and recreational facilities will remain closed throughout this period. Outdoor parks will remain accessible and any restroom facilities at those parks will undergo cleaning at regular intervals.
  • Cobb County’s administration building at 100 Cherokee St. will be closed to the public with access by essential employees only.
  • Cobb County courthouses will remain open to handle essential matters to ensure due process and to protect our community.

For more information on Cobb’s COVID-19 response, visit here.”