There were no punches pulled Monday evening when it came to the raging coronavirus pandemic. In a very candid virtual town hall meeting, the speakers shared the latest updates, growing concerns and much hope for a vaccination down the road.
“This is the most serious thing I think we have ever had on the table,” Mayor Bill Collins said Monday as he shared that at least 19 Floyd County residents have died this month alone from COVID.
That quote, that statistic underscored community health concerns addressed in the town hall organized by 100 Black Men of Rome-Northwest Georgia, the city of Rome and healthcare leaders.
The messages were chilling. The speakers — from Dr. Gary Voccio and Dr. Ken Jones to Collins to Commissioner Bonny Askew to 100 members and others — hit mounting pandemic concerns hard and often.
Jones, the chief medical officer at Floyd Medical Center, told of capacity issues at the hospital, especially in recent days. It isn’t just hospital beds, he said, but also healthcare workers and ensuring they have the staff to cover the shifts as patients increase. On Monday, Floyd had 70 patients being treated for COVID while Redmond Regional had 63 with COVID and another 11 awaiting test results.
They stressed mask wearing and other safety protocols even as push back continues from some parts of the community. Jones wondered what an antimasker would feel if he or she spent a 12-hour shift with some of his healthcare workers — fully dressed out in protective equipment. The outcome, says Jones: They’d “have a different thought process of what is going on in the COVID world… it would change a lot of peoples’ minds.”
Voccio, the director of the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Northwest District, helped break down the vaccine that slowly is becoming available in the state. He likewise shared some of the outcomes throughout the region to date. Eleven months into his “retirement” job as health director, Voccio has become the community’s must trusted voice in dealing with the pandemic.
In closing comments, Jones and others advocated the need for people to take the vaccine as it becomes available. Their message: Get the details from reputable sources and not social media gossip.
About the meeting: In an effort to help educate the community on vital health information, (100 Black Men) are teaming up with the City of Rome to offer a virtual Town Hall meeting tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. The meeting will be held via zoom and on the City of Rome’s Facebook page. Monday’s event will focus on ways to maintain health and safety amid COVID-19. It will feature speakers Dr. Gary Voccio, director of Northwest Georgia Public Health, as well as representatives from Floyd Medical Center and Redmond Regional Medical Center.