Newscast/Rant: Second Bartow man dies; third in our area. Rome told to shelter-in-place. Rant: Too little, too late?

Newscast/Rant: Second Bartow man dies; third in our area. Rome told to shelter-in-place. Rant: Too little, too late?

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Coronavirus updates:

  • A second Bartow resident died of coronavirus on Monday, this patient at Cartersville Medical Center. A Cartersville resident died Saturday at age 69 at Kennestore. That makes three victims so far from Northwest Georgia.
  • The state death toll was at 26 Monday evening. Local hospitals are caring for 17 confirmed patients, 77 others awaiting test results. Overall, 81 people have tested positive for the virus in the five-county area.
  • City of Rome adopts shelter-in-place stance with some caveats for essential business, operations starting this evening. Floyd County commissioners  consider a similar declaration this evening.
  • Closed: Rome City, Bartow County schools now closed through April 10. Recycling center closes but remote sites to accept paper, cardboard. Two more area banks close their lobbies.
  • Help: Heritage First Bank is accepting donations for Community Kitchen. Big support for Rome Schools’ medical drive. Polk Schools chip in. St. Mary’s kids make masks.

Today’s other news:

  • Ware Mechanical Weather Center: Severe weather possible later today. ‘The main hazards … will be strong to damaging winds, hail and a brief tornado or two.’

 

RANT OF THE DAY:

Monday evening, most thought Gov. Brian Kemp would make a critical call to tell Georgians to basically to shelter in place. Instead, he focused mostly on older residents and those with existing health issues to do so.

The governor went on to list specifically what has been done to help the healthcare community try to cope with the rising number of confirmed and suspected coronavirus cases across the state. He opened his webcast and telecast mourning Georgia’s 25 victims to date; another died in Bartow County to boost that total to 26.

Ninety minutes after the governor’s speech, as the Rome City Commission met around computer screens, other issues were addressed in a prompt fashion, including the rezoning of much of the River District across the Oostanaula from downtown Rome.

At the end, Mayor Bill Collins started a pitch for a caveat-filled shelter-in-place decree for Rome’s 36,500 residents. City Attorney Andy Davis seemingly read line-for-line from the 11-page document that some commissioners say they never saw until an hour before the meeting began – and that time frame might be generous. And, as some members are the community are saying, at least the commission had a chance to comment on it while they didn’t.

The city edict takes effect at 5 tonight. An hour later, the County Commission is scheduled to review a decree of its own, probably along the same lines. We hope to get you an early look at it.

The reaction to the city decision has been decidedly mixed: Some wanted stronger action; others praised the commission for doing what the governor and president haven’t done; still others demanded clarity citing the rambling nature of the document; while others again questioned why there was no public discussion.

And a few wanted to know what took so long as separate city commissioners have been begging for earlier meetings to open a dialogue about sheltering-in-place and adopting the suggestions the healthcare community submitted in advance of last Thursday’s countywide decree shutting restaurant dining rooms and a few other steps.

Who’s right and who’s wrong? That’s something to fuel the High Court of Facebook today and throughout the week.

But here are the indicators we’re watching. They include the scant details from area hospitals and Public Health on the numbers of people testing positive, those awaiting tests and, sadly, the obituaries.

There’s a reason Gov. Brian Kemp said two of Georgia’s hardest hit were receiving 30 ventilators to help cope with the medical crisis. Knowing that one of those counties is Floyd underscores a simple fact: Government on all levels waited too long to act.

We know that Floyd is an epicenter because we’re a medical hub for Northwest Georgia and Northeast Alabama. And we know how many of the local cases stem from a fateful March 1 service at The Church at Liberty Square. Those stricken have been sent to Floyd, Redmond, Cartersville Medical, Kennestone and Cherokee Northside as well.

It is not a question of where this beast came from. It’s a question of what’s been done to stop it. We’re told the initial report of the Cave Spring principal contacting coronavirus was the trigger for action in Rome and Floyd County.

If so, why did we as a community wait so long to pull that trigger? We’ve been in reactive mode all along rather than proactive. Now we’ll see if these latest steps help or are too little, too late.


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