There are some people who have an insufficient number of adjectives to describe them. My mentor and friend Master Sergeant Henry Holley USMC (Retired), was one of them. He joined his beloved Bettie in heaven Saturday evening. His legacy and values will be ever present in my life.

Henry insisted on being part of our campaigns in every way. He drove me during my last campaign and supported me with his contributions. I made a point of stopping by his house almost daily to share the events of the day during both campaigns and while in office. He once remarked that our campaign sign was the only one that ever appeared in his yard. During the East Cobber Parade last September, he proudly wore his uniform and made the sign for his scooter.

One of my favorite stories about him is the time that I took him to Dobbins Air Reserve Base to the barber shop. Reading a magazine while they cut his hair, I was startled when he emerged from the chair to see that his stately head of white hair had been replaced with a haircut that would have made any Marine drill instructor happy. Henry promptly texted a picture of his new look to his daughter, she later resent it to his many friends with the caption that I could no longer “go out to play” with her Dad. I consider it the day that sealed our friendship.

Henry was a proud, proud Marine We ate countless breakfasts at Waffle House and he always wore some form of Marine Corps clothing. He was a WWII and Korean War veteran and was disembarked at the last moment when his unit deployed to Vietnam. Unfortunately, his pay record went on the ship and it was months before that problem was fixed. His stories about Shanghai Farrell, his drill instructor at Parris Island, spoke of the predecessors of today’s men and woman today who wear with pride the Eagle, Globe and Anchor on their uniforms.

You’ll hear more about Henry in the coming days in the media, printed, digital and otherwise I am a better person and Chairman because of him.

Another week that had its share of twists and turns. The Governor’s latest 26-page Executive Order allowed certain non-essential businesses to reopen. The criteria to reopen was very specific in some cases (one had 39 separate provisions).

The County’s Declaration of Emergency expired on Thursday, 24 April and was not renewed. I believed that there was significant confusion by the public, many believing that the Governor’s Order suspended all County authority. Therefore we’ll take our lead from the Governor’s office. As a reminder, his Order maintains Sheltering in Place until Thursday, April 30 and the Public Health Emergency until Tuesday, May 12th.

Finally, a limited number of County parks were reopened to allow people to walk, run or bike. This move was taken after evaluating the effect of the County’s Declaration of Emergency and additional information from Public Health about the virus. When we first issued the Declaration, the number of COVID 19 cases was doubling in the County every 3 days. At the end of the 30 days, it was taking 14 days. The improvement in this ratio has come despite more testing. There may be a number of factors for this good news. I would like to attribute it to an effective communication plan and responsible actions by the public. We’ll continue to monitor the trends as businesses and parks reopen.

While there is a reliable information for making reasonable and responsible personal choices about exposure to the virus, none of these precautions should be reasons to become complacent. I would encourage you to visit www.dph.georgia.gov and review the COVID 19 Daily Status Report to appreciate how virulent this virus remains.

The campaign is still running in the background. We are receiving contributions and requests for yard signs on a regular basis. I try to call about 100 people daily and I am hearing good things from those who answer. There is a way to make calls from your home if you are interested. When the shelter in place is removed, we’ll return to regular phone banking. The postponement of the Primary until June 9th has its plusses and minuses. In the end, it’s the commitment of volunteers that generally make the difference in local races like ours.

Judy and I volunteered at a Food Pantry Drive in Powder Springs on Saturday. As I mentioned previously, when this is over there will be those with stories about their contributions during this time. We saw more than 50 people, including members of the Georgia National Guard, who will have their share, including about this day when they provided food for more than 600 families.

The President’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again captured the headlines at the end of last week. He has established 3 phases for this process. Before we can exit Phase 1, the County has to demonstrate a steadily decreasing rate of infection, a health system capable of absorbing the effects of reopening, and the public health system being able to identify and rapidly contain any spread of the virus. Below is the link if you want to review the Guidelines

https://www.whitehouse.gov/openingamerica/

Although the virus is still spreading in the County, since April 1 the time required for the number of cases to double has slowed from every 7 days to every 12 days. I believe that there at least 2 reasons for his. One is the effectiveness of my Declaration of Emergency on 24 March which included a shelter in place provision. More importantly, it demonstrates the cooperation of the public in taking the necessary measures to practice social distancing and other measures.

On the second requirement, Wellstar has indicated that they still have capacity. We should make every effort to ensure it remains that way. “Flattening the curve” still remains the primary reason for all the steps we have been taking.

The third requirement is dependent upon the appropriate number of test kits and personnel to perform contact tracing. Insufficient numbers of test kits are a recognized problem in Georgia. The Governor has his plate full and I am confident that this is on it. From where the people will be sourced to meet the need for contact tracing is in the hands of the Department of Public Health.

The Governor’s Executive Order requiring sheltering in place is still effective until April 30th. As much as possible I want to complement the County’s actions with his. The County will be reviewing its policy on use of the parks this week. Now that we have a much better understanding of what we can do to mitigate the spread of the virus, there may be an option for limited use of the parks. I know that would be welcomed by many.

Finally, Judy and several of her friends have been making face masks for our public servants. I can’t count the bags of masks that I have delivered to employees at Cobb Public Health, Elections, and Public Safety. I know many of you are making a similar contribution in your own way. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. It is that attitude that exemplifies the spirit of America and what makes our nation so special.