Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
Tifton Grapevine
Tuesday, May 19 , marked the lowest number of COVID-19 positive patients hospitalized in Georgia since the pandemic began, said Gov. Brian P. Kemp .

That encouraging news is met locally by COVID-19 related deaths among Tift countians more than doubling within less than a week , rising from six deaths in Tift County last Tuesday to 14 deaths by this past Monday , according to the state Department of Public Health (DPH).

Kemp on Tuesday said there were 986 COVID-19 positive patients hospitalized in the state, an approximate 12 percent decrease in the past week from 1,125 patients hospitalized on May 12 , and a 34 percent decline from 1,500 patients hospitalized on May 1 .

"Our hospitalization numbers continue to show encouraging signs in our fight against COVID-19, but we must remain vigilant in our efforts to combat this virus," Kemp said. "I continue to ask Georgians to practice social distancing , follow the advice of public health officials , and protect the elderly and medically fragile ."

As deaths of Tift County residents continued to rise , so has the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus. On Tuesday , the DPH reported 185 positive cases in Tift , a 15 percent increase from May 12 when 161 cases were reported.

" Locally , testing numbers have dramatically increased . We're seeing an increase in cases as more people are being tested so that we can know truly how widespread the virus is," said Kristin Patten , public information officer for the DPH’s South Health District .

On Monday , Governor Kemp said that Georgia now ranks 21st out of 54 states and territories in the current percentage of total population tested , up from 46th one month ago. Among states with more than five million residents, Georgia ranks eighth .

As of Tuesday , the state has tested 378,156 Georgians. There are 38,721 positive cases in the state and a total of 1,664 deaths.

The Southwell health system based in Tifton reported 2,633 people tested as of Tuesday , up from 2,217 one week before, with a total of 395 positive cases and a total of 41 deaths at Tift Regional Medical Center , most of them involving residents of other counties .

Any Georgian may now be tested for COVID-19 regardless of symptoms. To schedule a test in Tift County , call 229-386-8373 .
Tifton Grapevine
As we are reporting in this edition , both positive cases of the novel coronavirus and related deaths have risen in Tift County . In less than a week, Tift deaths have more than doubled . These are people who lived in our community , who have had Tift County residences.

Obviously, the virus is still prevalent in our community, so it is distressing to see some people act as if the pandemic is past us. Unfortunately, wearing face masks has become a partisan issue for some folks rather than a public health issue. 

Yes, wearing a mask is not going to protect you from getting COVID-19 ; what it does is potentially protect others from getting COVID-19. We can become carriers of the virus without knowing it. We may not show symptoms or may have minor symptoms and still infect others around us who may be more susceptible to the virus and may have a more negative reaction. 

By wearing a mask , we show responsibility and concern for our community . And potentially, we help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Of course, wearing a mask is only part of what we can do. We need to follow Gov. Brian Kemp’s guidelines : The governor suggests that we all wear a face mask in public , that we thoroughly wash our hands , that we try to stay six feet apart from one another, that we keep our gatherings small , and that those aged 65 and over or who have health issues remain sheltered in place through at least June 12 .

And Kemp has issued mandatory rules governing businesses to protect both customers and employees . The governor has a difficult job . I have been an elected official , and I understand how hard it is to make tough decisions that may be unpopular . Kemp has been criticized around the country for being among the first governors to allow some businesses to reopen , but I am sure that Georgians believe the governor cares about the health of the state’s residents . And It’s obvious that the state cannot remain in quarantine forever

There is only so much the government can do to protect citizens from themselves . We have to be responsible for ourselves and for our community . We have to make our own sensible and responsible decisions. The state has issued measured guidelines ; it is up to all of us to follow them

Please support our local businesses while being mindful of safety guidelines. Take care of yourself but also take care of our community . More than ever, we are reliant on one another . Please make good choices not only for your own health but for the health of everyone around you, for what all of us do today has a direct impact on our tomorrow .
Early voting began Monday for both the state primary election and the Georgia presidential preference primary .

I n-person voting will continue for three weeks, until June 5 , and election day is June 9 .

Because of the pandemic , all Georgia voters have the opportunity to vote by absentee ballot ; information was previously sent by mail.

"We have issued 4,467 ballots, and we have received 1,532 . We are still processing absentee ballot requests and processing returned ballots ," said Leila E. Dollison, election supervisor for the Tift County Board of Elections & Registration .

"We had several voters bring in their ballots and voted in person. As of now, 165 voters have come through," Dollison said Tuesday

Because the process is somewhat different this time, the state has created an absentee voting fact sheet .

To view or download the two-page fact sheet, Click Here!
Sconyers Gin & Warehouse Co. in Sycamore , through its Cortez H. Sconyers Charitable Trust , has donated $10,000 to the Turner County Health Department .

Pictured are, from left, Superior Court Judge Bill Reinhardt , Turner County Nurse Manager Mary Anne Sturdevan and trustee Tim Floyd .

Among its donations this year, the Sconyers Trust also gave $10,000 to the Sycamore United Methodist Church , beloved by the late Mrs. Cortez Sconyers , whose husband founded Sconyers Gin . Mrs. Sconyers had a desire to give back to her community and its farmers, and the charitable trust makes community donations each year.
Chase Beckham of Tifton is the 2020 local winner of the $500 Julian & Jan Hester Memorial Scholarship from South Georgia Banking Co.

Beckham was chosen by a regional panel of judges for his academic performance at Tift County High School and for his extracurricular activities , including volunteering at local events such as Special Olympics and Mims' Kids Back to School .

He has mentored youth through the Watch Dogs Program , coached a basketball team of 12- and 13-year-olds and served on six mission trips , traveling both domestically and internationally.

Beckham, who is dual-enrolled at ABAC , will attend Georgia Southern University in the fall. He will go on to compete for one of the four Hester Memorial $1,000 scholarships chosen by the Community Bankers Association (CBA).
The Julian & Jan Hester Memorial Scholarship programs awards $1,000 annually to four high school seniors planning to attend a Georgia college, university or technical school beginning the fall semester after graduation from high school. 

Bethany Barron of Vienna , the local runner up , is also a candidate for the CBA scholarship award. Barron, valedictorian of Fullington Academy’s 2020 senior class , maintained a high grade-point average while dual-enrolled at Brewton-Parker College . She will continue her education at Georgia College .
Alleviating a shortage of mental health providers in rural areas is among the goals of an articulation agreement between Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) and Valdosta State University (VSU).

Dr. Matthew Anderson , dean of the ABAC School of Arts and Sciences, said the agreement guarantees qualified ABAC graduates, with a bachelor’s degree in rural community development, an interview and consideration for acceptance into VSU’s marriage and family therapy master’s degree program

“There is a shortage of mental health providers in rural areas, and it is hoped that the new collaboration might contribute to addressing this need,” Anderson said. “We are thrilled to be collaborating with our colleagues at Valdosta State on this new agreement, which will help our students who aspire to be marriage and family therapists achieve their goals."

Dr. Heather M. Kelley , interim head of the VSU human services department, said the graduate degree strengthens the foundation of the ABAC bachelor’s degree in rural community development .

“A graduate degree in marriage and family therapy provides training that no other mental health field offers,” Kelley said. “It is direct, face-to-face training with real people who have real, often painful problems.”
This is one of the cats currently available for  adoption  at the  Tift County Animal Shelter. For information, call  229-382-PETS (7387). The shelter is now open to the public for adoptions 1-6 p.m. Monday through Friday .
Pets of the Week are sponsored by:
Branch's Veterinary Clinic
205 Belmont Ave., Tifton, 229-382-6055
– MAY 20, 1932
Byron Hollingsworth of Ocilla , on May 20, 1932 , accepted the position of principal at Tifton High School , where he will teach history and direct athletics . He succeeds Homer Sutton , who moves to Albany . Hollingsworth , best known as "Shorty," played football for three years on the Mercer varsity team.
Call Us at 478-227-7126

Your Locally Owned Digital Newspaper!

To Subscribe, CLICK HERE!
Tifton Grapevine
e-published every Tuesday and Friday

Frank Sayles Jr.
Editor & Publisher
Bonnie Sayles
Managing Editor
A Service of Sayles Unlimited Marketing LLC , Tifton, Georgia