For those in our Cobb family who celebrated Easter yesterday, it will certainly be one they will all remember. The message of Easter is one of hope. In the autumn of my years I have been guided by the words that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. What I hope for every day is our community working together to forge through this pandemic. What I am certain of is that we shall overcome this adversity because of the many acts of courage and kindness by people and groups.

I visited some of our first responders last week and was reassured by their confidence in continuing to perform their duties. They are joined by many other public servants who come to work daily and keep your government working in the background. The quiet dedication of our newest heroes in the health care community is inspirational. They are probably the most at-risk members in this pandemic and yet continue to show boldness and fearlessness by their actions. The countless volunteers in the faith and non-profit universe also put themselves in jeopardy by delivering food and services to those in need. Yet we see pictures of young and old distributing products. Sewing and knitting circles have redirected their efforts to make face masks. Members of our community who are in the National Guard are once again demonstrating the sacrifices that our citizen soldiers make. The Chamber of Commerce and similar associations are working to connect the business community with the benefits provided by federal government. I especially appreciate those members of the public who are staying at and home as much as possible and implementing social distance measures and health precautions. I am certain that I have omitted some deserving members. But the message is that we are all in this together.

For those who have lost loved ones during his time, we mourn for them. May they always find comfort in their many memories of them.

My faith in the people of Cobb has never been stronger. Their compassion is what gives me confidence in hope for a brighter future. There will come a day when we shall emerge from this pandemic and celebrate. Many of our acts of kindness will be unheralded. However, those may be the most meaningful because they came from the heart, knowing that when we were called, we answered.

The Director of Cobb Public Health, Dr Janet Memark, was in a very informative video recently. Below is the link to that interview.

To once again emphasize the most important measures to mitigate the spread of this virus (1) Stay home (2) practice social distancing (3) if you leave home, wear a face mask (4) when you return home, wash your hands for 20 seconds.

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