Friday, May 1, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
Gov. Brian P. Kemp let his statewide shelter-in-place order expire Thursday night for most Georgians , but extended restrictions for "medically fragile" and older residents , as well as for businesses and senior-care homes .

Kemp's new order requires people age 65 and older , and anyone with medical conditions , to shelter in place until June 12 . Businesses reopening must follow strict safety guidelines , while bars and nightclubs remain closed through May 13 .

“It isn’t as if a switch has been flipped and everything has opened ,” Dr. Kathleen Toomey , Georgia’s public health commissioner, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution .

“We’re moving into this phase carefully and cautiously and encouraging social distancing , wearing a mask in public ” as the coronavirus continues to infect people across the state.

In a press release Thursday , Kemp said, "Moving forward, I am urging Georgians to continue to stay home whenever possible . ... The health and well-being of Georgians are my top priorities , and my decisions are based on data and advice from health officials . I will do what is necessary to protect the lives – and livelihoods – of our people."

The governor thanked Georgians "who heeded public health advice, afforded us time to bolster our healthcare infrastructure, and flattened the curve . We were successful in these efforts, but the fight is far from over ," Kemp said.
Georgia has had the largest increase in unemployment claims in the U.S. since the COVID-19 pandemic began and ranks second in jobless claims during April , according to a new report.

WalletHub , a financial data website, said Georgia recorded 1,367,494 unemployment claims between the weeks of March 16 and April 20 ; during the same period one year ago there were 27,355 claims. The 4,999.06 percent  increase is the highest in the nation .

The 264,818 jobless claims during the week of April 20 is 5,841.62 percent more than the 4,457 claims last year during the same week, WalletHub said.

To identify which states’ workforces have been hurt most by COVID-19 , WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on increases in unemployment claims . They used the data to rank the most impacted states in both the latest week for which they have data ( April 20 ) and overall since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis March 16.

The Ga. Department of Labor reports that unemployment in Tift County rose to 4.1 percent during the month of March . It was 3.4 percent in February and was 3.6 percent in March 2019 .

The jobless rate in local counties during March include: Ben Hill , 7.4 percent; Irwin , 5.9 percent; Turner , 5.7 percent; Worth , 4.7 percent; and Cook , 4.1 percent. The figures for April are expected to rise significantly .
A Message from Todd Tillman, 
our Local Business Development Manager:
As Georgia's shelter-in-place order was expiring Thursday, the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH) recorded 25 more COVID-19 related deaths in the state and 231 more confirmed cases of the virus.

The DPH said the state has seen 1,132 deaths from coronavirus and has 26,264 confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. Thursday . There have been 164,465 tests administered in the state.

Albany/Dougherty County continues to lead Georgia in virus-related deaths with 120 , the DPH said. The county also has had 1,505 confirmed cases and 303 hospitalizations.

Phoebe Putney Health System in Albany said Thursday that it had 14 positive cases and one additional death of a positive COVID-19 patient within the previous 24 hours .

As of Thursday , Tift County reported 117 positive cases and five deaths. The DPH said Sylvester/Worth County had 153 cases and 11 deaths. Ashburn/Turner County recorded 68 cases and eight deaths.

The Southwell health system, which includes Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC), reported a total of 325 positive cases and a total of 25 deaths at TRMC, most of them being residents of other counties .

In the previous 24 hours, Southwell said there were an additional 12 positive cases, six recoveries and no additional deaths . Recovery is defined as a full 14 days after testing with the patient no longer symptomatic .
Construction continues on the expansion project at Tift Regional Medical Center in Tifton. The photo on the left shows the construction footprint on 18th Street ; the photo at right shows the hospital’s new tower starting to rise.
The multimillion-dollar expansion project includes a 263,000-square-foot , four-story tower. The first level will be a new emergency center; the second, third and fourth levels of the new tower will be inpatient units , including a new location for the hospital’s intensive care unit

The project is expected to be completed in fall 2021 .
Concerning Covid-19
A diverse group of about 30 area pastors met Thursday morning via Zoom to pray and discuss the Covid-19 Pandemic, and how we as Christian leaders can and should respond.

We want Tiftarea to know we are taking this crisis seriously and are planning accordingly. Even though we come from different denominations and answer to different ecclesiastical authorities, ultimately we answer to God for the wise and responsible stewardship of our congregations.

We are listening to the wisdom of our local medical professionals and will continue to heed their advice, and because we love God and we love our neighbor, we plan to proceed cautiously and with a united purpose as we begin to reopen our churches over time. 
Finally, we are planning a Pastors’ Prayer Gathering for Monday, May 4 , at 5 p.m. , in the lot in front of the Charles Kent County Administration Building . We invite all area pastors to join us as we meet outdoors to pray for our community, for the medical staff and first responders, and for all those suffering from this illness.

We will structure the gathering in accordance with all social distancing guidelines. Please help us spread the word. 
Gentle music wafts through the pines at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College at 7 p.m. nightly when ABAC pays tribute to nurses on the front lines of the pandemic.

“We honor all the nurses across the state and country who are risking their lives every day during this struggle against the coronavirus,” ABAC Media Productions Coordinator Matthew Reid said.

“We saw what some other places were doing, such as the nightly cheers every night at 7 in Manhattan, and we wanted to do something special .”

Emanating from the bell tower at the Chapel of All Faiths , the music reaches several blocks in all directions.

“It’s a way of celebrating the accomplishments of the nurses and our way of saying thank you for their sacrifice,” Reid said. “We also play a song at noon every day to lift the spirits of the entire community.”

ABAC opened its nursing program in 1966 , and many of the nurses at Southwell , which includes Tift Regional Medical Center , received their education at ABAC. The college now offers both associate and bachelor’s degrees in nursing .
Dr. Frank Flanders of Tifton has been named the 2020 Outstanding Educator by the Alumni Association at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College .

The Outstanding Educator Award recognizes alumni involved in education, ranging from elementary school to college. Open to both active and retired educators, the Alumni Association began presentation of the award in 1995.

A 1972 ABAC graduate, Flanders went on to receive bachelor’s, master’s, and a specialist in education degree from the University of Georgia (UGA) with a focus on agriculture and agricultural education . He earned his doctor of education degree from UGA in 1988 .

Flanders serves as program coordinator for the agricultural education department at ABAC . Integral in establishing the program, Flanders spent many years as an ag ed teacher in public schools , followed by three decades of teaching at UGA .

He has received more than 25 professional awards, including the National Mentor Award at the National Association of Agriculture Teachers in 2019 and the CAES Academic Advisor Award at UGA in 2014. He was inducted as a member of the Georgia FFA Ag Education Hall of Fame in 2003 and received the Honorary American FFA Degree in 1987.

Here is another happy ending of a former pet from the Tift County Animal Shelter :

Roxie was terrified in the shelter and was placed on the euthanasia list . Her rescuers pleaded for someone to save her, and her picture was shared across the Internet .

Jonna Bledsoe Hart in Tennessee saw the photo and immediately fell in love with Roxie Adopted over the phone , Roxie had found a new home . Two years later, Hart offers an update :

Adopting Roxie was the best thing ;" in her photo she "looked terrified, insecure and lost . My heart went out to her because I knew exactly how she felt ," Hart says.

"She is my constant companion , my biggest fan and loves me unconditionally . The healing we have accomplished together is powerful and freeing . ... I can't imagine life without her. Our journey together is amazing .”
Pets of the Week are sponsored by:
Branch’s Veterinary Clinic
205 Belmont Ave., Tifton, 229-382-6055   
Important Phone Numbers & Web Sites
Benjamin Harmon Crum, 63, Enigma
Barbara Roberts, 82, Norman Park

Leila "Ruth" Rhodes, 91, Clermont, Fla.

Ilene Carpenter Young, 85,  formerly of Tifton
Ret. M.Sgt. Bobby Vernon, 84, Albany
Carolyn Louise Green, 55, Tifton
Lois Powell, 83, Adel
Durel Nelson, 83, Kennesaw
Amanda Kay Broome, 40, Sparks  
Christy "Cee Cee" Scheeler, 47, Jasper, Fla.  

Jackie Lunsford Reynolds, 79, Worth County
Vanneece Nelms Brooks, 55, Cordele
Evelyn L. Sheffield, 81, Warner Robins
Charlie James Edge, 93, Ashburn
Arthell Brown III, 40, Worth County
Patricia "Trishann" Jefferson, 67, Sylvester

Robert Hanson Ramsey, 86, Tifton
Hazel Jeraldine Fowler Marchant, 77, Tifton
Lillian Burns Robinson, 101, Fitzgerald

Eloise Hilley Scarborough Torrence, 86, Tifton
Dorothy Davis Coalson, 83, Ocilla
Roger Lamar Nipper, 84, Sycamore
Catherine “Catfish” Marie Windham, 60, Sumner
Thelma Estelle Faircloth, 85, Tifton
Dell Clay "D.C." Bohannon, 70, Cordele
Frances Yawn, 92, Ashburn

Debra Giles King, 48, Tifton
Barbara Thompson Bondari, 75, Tifton
Gina Marie Mastrario, 59, Ashburn

Mary Cromer Shehee, 89, Sycamore
Tifton Grapevine
e-published every Tuesday and Friday

Frank Sayles Jr.
Editor & Publisher
Bonnie Sayles
Managing Editor
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