Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
GrapeNew
TIFTON, AND THE WORLD, PAUSES
By FRANK SAYLES JR.
Tifton Grapevine
Our fast-paced world has slowed in so many ways. Most of us are directed to stay at home – " shelter in place " – and limit physical contact . Some businesses are closed , unsure when they will reopen. Children are home from school and looking at "distance learning."

But the news continues moving at a furious pace . Updates are constant . I wish to thank my brothers and sisters in the local media – print, broadcast and digital – for continuing to provide necessary information to our community . And I also thank our local government leaders and staffs for working around the clock to keep our cities and counties running while looking out for all of our best interests .

Our true local heroes are our healthcare professionals . Like firemen running into a raging inferno , they readily come to work each day bravely facing challenges and potential life-threatening situations to save lives and serve us all. In Tifton , we are truly blessed to have a first-class health system and many, many caring and top-notch individuals who are steadfastly working to keep us and our entire community safe and healthy .
On Sunday , local churches organized a "prayer caravan" for Tift Regional Medical Center’s (TRMC) healthcare workers. With a law enforcement escort, the caravan of vehicles, several hundred strong, circled the hospital campus in a show of solidarity

“We are so honored and appreciative ,” said Chris Dorman , president and CEO of Southwell , TRMC's health system. “ Thanks for the prayers and support from our local residents . It really gave a boost to our team of medical professionals who are here to serve.”

Let us continue to offer our support and our prayers to everyone working to combat the novel coronavirus in our local communities, and to those diagnosed with the virus and their concerned families .

A day will come when this , too, will pass . In the meantime, heed the advice on the marquee of Downtown Tifton's Tift Theatre : " Be Safe , Wash Your Hands , (and we all will) Be Back Soon ."
Photo by Bonnie Sayles
A healthcare worker prepares to conduct a test for COVID-19 at Tift Regional Medical Center's drive-through clinic Monday.
TIFTON
3 CONFIRMED VIRUS CASES;
CITY: 'SHELTER IN PLACE;'
COUNTY: 'VOLUNTARY STAY SAFE AT HOME'
By FRANK SAYLES JR.
Tifton Grapevine
Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC) early Tuesday announced the third positive case of the novel coronavirus in Tift County .

Meanwhile, the City of Tifton implemented a "shelter in place" directive, an 8 p.m. curfew and the temporary closure of "non-essential" businesses within the city limits. Tift County followed with an 8 p.m. curfew , the closure of some businesses and a " voluntary stay safe at home " policy.

The third Tift County patient with a positive COVID-19 test result is being isolated at home , TRMC said. As of Tuesday morning, this makes one inpatient and two outpatients with positive results. 

TRMC officials said they have sent COVID-19 tests to labs for 94 patients, and 33 test results have been received with 30 negative. TRMC is awaiting results for 61 patients.

As of 7 p.m. Tuesday , the Ga. Department of Public Health said there were 1,097 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia and 38 deaths. Dougherty County ( Albany ) recorded 101 positive cases – the third highest in the state – and 11 deaths. Worth County had four positive cases; Turner, Irwin, Ben Hill , and Colquitt counties recorded one case each. 

TRMC is shifting all clinic-based COVID-19 testing to an outdoor drive-thru clinic in its parking garage. Before visiting the hospital or any clinic, individuals who suspect they have COVID-19 symptoms should first call Southwell's hotline, 877-719-5787 . Health professionals will then conduct a telephone triage and offer instructions about whether or not the person should visit the drive-thru clinic.  

While Southwell’s test kits are not at a critical level , they are limited , officials say.

CITY SETS EMERGENCY DIRECTIVES

Tifton City Council on Monday issued a shelter-in-place order effective through April 7 . The order tells city residents to stay home except for specified activities , such as procuring food and necessary supplies , visiting medical offices and other "essential businesses," and going to work.

"Non-essential" businesses must suspend business activities except for "minimum basic operations." For answers to some questions about the directives, Click Here ; to read the city's entire ordinance regarding its directives, Click Here .

COUNTY ASKS RESIDENTS TO VOLUNTARILY STAY HOME

On Tuesday , the Tift County Commission approved an emergency administrative order asking residents to voluntarily stay home through April 6 . The order also temporarily closes several types of businesses , including indoor entertainment venues, gyms and fitness centers, and personal services with close physical contact such as hair and nail salons, and massage operations.

Restaurants must close dining rooms and offer only take-out and delivery services. Gatherings of more than 10 people are also prohibited .

Both the city and county imposed an 8 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew.

LOCAL COURTS REMAIN OPEN

Judges in the Tifton Judicial Circuit and Tift County judges said their courts are all open , despite some misinformation circulating.

"While routine hearings and trials are postponed until further notice, Tift County superior, state, juvenile, magistrate and probate courts will be open during normal business hours to address emergency matters affecting persons’ health, safety and liberty as needed," according to a press release.

Officials said access to local facilities are restricted , and people are asked to call the court offices if judicial assistance is needed.
ABAC ASSISTS TRMC OPERATING ROOM
With a nationwide shortage of masks and goggles, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College answered the call Friday night by donating 30 pairs of splash-resistant goggles , 16 cases of gloves , and one box of laminated polypropylene aprons to the Tift Regional Medical Center operating room . Each case contains 10 boxes of gloves. TRMC operating room charge nurse Geanie Vines picked up the donation from ABAC police officers Ryant Wright , at center in photo, and Joe Weatherford .
PB&J – AND HOT DOGS!
The local Peanut Butter & Jesus (PB&J) ministry has been stepping up its delivery of meals to local children . On Tuesday , Donna, Chip and Evan Morris provided Shady Lane Drive Inn hot dogs for the children.

"They brought them cooked , in buns , wrapped and ready to go . The children  were so excited! " the organization posted on social media. "We couldn’t post this news until we finished delivering because we have a sneaky suspicion that some of you 'big kids ' would have been waiting beside the road wanting a bag ."
AN 'ELECTRIC THEATRE' OPENS IN TIFTON
– MARCH 25, 1916
The Strand Theatre , 139 Love Ave., called " one of the finest in the state," opened to the public on Saturday afternoon, March 25, 1916, in Tifton . "The building, next to Wade-Corry Co. on Love Avenue, was erected especially for an electric theatre after the most approved and modern plans ," according to press reports of the time. "The electrical fixtures and wiring alone was $1,000 ."
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Frank Sayles Jr.
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