Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
Tifton Grapevine
Tifton is one of three new mobile COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites being set up this week in Georgia , Gov. Brian P. Kemp says.

The mobile unit is traveling among Augusta (Hephzibah), Milledgeville and Tifton on a rotating basis. The site is supported by Walmart, eTrueNorth , and state and local officials, Kemp said.

"Serving Augusta, Milledgeville, Tifton , and the surrounding regions, this mobile unit will be a game-changing step in our efforts to ensure access to COVID-19 across Georgia,"  Kemp said. " Increased testing is critical as we continue the measured process of safely reopening parts of our state."

On Tuesday , Kemp announced that nearly 13,000 new tests were reported to the Georgia Department of Public Health 's website, recording the largest single day in new tests reported since the pandemic began.

"We are pushing our testing capacity to the max. Yesterday, I asked all Georgians who are experiencing symptoms to schedule an appointment to get tested . We have the sites, the physicians, and the tests. We just need more Georgians to participate," Kemp said Tuesday.

The new mobile testing unit is administering free tests to Georgians who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms . All health-care providers and first responders can be tested whether or not they have symptoms.

The mobile unit will be set up in Tifton from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays at the Tift County National Guard Armory , 3111 U.S. Highway 41 S.

An appointment for testing can be made at www.DoINeedaCOVID19test.com , but on-site scheduling also is available , weather permitting. For questions regarding testing, call  800-635-8611 .

Those being tested will need to stay in their cars for verification of eligibility criteria, ID check, and the self-administered nasal swab test . The test site is not available to walk-ups; those being tested must be inside a car.


As of Tuesday (April 28) evening, 140,223 tests for the virus have been given in Georgia, with 24,865 positive cases and 1,036 deaths , according to the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH).

In Tift County , there are 97 confirmed cases and five deaths of Tift residents. The DPH said there are 27 Tift countians hospitalized with the virus.

The Southwell health system, which includes Tift Regional Medical Center , reported Tuesday that it has seen a total of 291 positive cases and have had 25 deaths . Among those statistics, one new death was reported Monday and two new deaths were reported Tuesday at Tift Regional .

Dougherty County continues to lead the state in COVID-19 deaths with 118 . The county has 1,491 positive cases and 291 hospitalizations, the DPH reported.

Dougherty is reporting 1,658.42 cases per 100,000 population; conversely, Fulton County in Atlanta , which has 2,727 positive cases, is reporting 248.09 cases per 100,000 population, the DPH said.

On Tuesday , Phoebe Putney Health System in Albany reported five new coronavirus deaths within 24 hours.

"Over the last week , we received an average of one positive COVID-19 test result every hour of every day. That proves the virus is still spreading in our community," said Scott Steiner , Phoebe Putney's CEO.

"We’re glad that number is significantly lower than the average of five hourly positive results we were receiving four weeks ago , but the current numbers show COVID-19 isn’t going away any time soon," Steiner said.
The Georgia Grown program and UGA Cooperative Extension are helping farmers get produce to consumers .

Because of disruptions to the industry triggered by COVID-19, many agricultural producers in Georgia are having difficulties getting products to those who need them.

The Ga. Department of Agriculture ’s Georgia Grown program – a state membership program to help agribusinesses thrive by bringing together producers, processors, suppliers, distributors, retailers, agritourism and consumers — is waiving membership fees for the service until July to help producers affected by the crisis.

The program is partnering with the University of Georgia Extension Service to facilitate connections between growers and consumers .

“There are many people who are looking for fresh produce and cannot find it, and we have producers who have produce and cannot sell it,” said Laura Perry Johnson , Extension associate dean at UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences .

Types of agricultural products that qualify for the program include vegetables, fruits, seafood, meats, dairy, poultry products and other agriculture-related products such as honey and prepared foods.

“We are getting a lot of interest from many types of buyers , including consumer, wholesale, food banks and some restaurants,” said Matthew Kulinski , deputy marketing director for Georgia Grown . “This is a good way for producers who normally sell to restaurants to have a new outlet for their produce.”
After a long day of fighting the pandemic , healthcare employees at Southwell and Colquitt Regional Medical Center recently received a soothing melody and a tasty sugar cookie from the Office of College Advancement at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College .

“Southwell and Colquitt Regional are doing awesome work for their communities in these challenging times,” said ABAC Arts Connection Director Wayne Jones . “They have both supported ABAC as outstanding community partners through the years, and we wanted to do something special for them.”

Jones initiated the effort, sharing with the ABAC advancement office a music clip from TAKE3 , an instrumental trio which will bring sounds of a violin, cello and piano to Howard Auditorium on Nov. 15 as part of the ABAC Presents! Performing Arts Series .

“I was searching for the final piece of the puzzle for our series, and I came across this music from TAKE3 ,” Jones said. “It’s a beautiful piece featuring ' Amazing Grace' over Bach’s 'Cello Concerto #1.' We arranged for it to be used at both Southwell and Colquitt Regional .”

The Tifton- and Moultrie-based medical systems can share the music throughout their facilities to provide comfort. Chris Dorman , Southwell president/CEO, said inspirational music is played at least once a day at Tift Regional Medical System .

A free snack cart in the afternoon also offers a break to Southwell employees.
“Thanks to the wonderful culinary skills and generosity of Sue Mastrario , we provided 100 individually wrapped sugar cookies for the snack cart,” Jones said. “ Josie Smith attached a message to each cookie which thanks these healthcare workers who are the real heroes out there on the front line every day.”
Referencing the music of TAKE3 , the notes read: “Your care and concern for our community has been music to our ears .”
A Message from Todd Tillman,
our Local Business Development Manager:
As the school year is winding down for students, local school systems are devising ways to honor seniors while planning for the fall as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

In a message to students and parents the other day, Tift County School Superintendent Adam Hathaway thanked everyone for their help in continuing instruction via distance learning during the past seven weeks.

Hathaway told the Class of 2020 that "Our hearts go out to all of you and your families as we try to find ways to celebrate your accomplishments. We will have an online celebration for our seniors on May 23 , but this will NOT take the place of an official ceremony that will happen as soon as we can have gatherings again."

The school system is currently " evaluating student proficiency for promotion and retention or awarding course credits. It’s important to us that students are prepared to be successful in their next grade or course," the superintendent said.

"We are very hopeful that as we wrap up this school year and move into the summer , we will get better news in regards to this pandemic . Having said that, hope is not a plan . ... it would be reckless of us not to consider the possibility we may be in the same or similar situation in late July and August ."

Over at Tiftarea Academy in Chula , the private school is still hoping that it can resume physical classes for at least a few days in May "just to have some type of closure on the school year ," said Headmaster Stacey Bell in a recent note to students and parents.

"We will continue to hold out hope of having some type of graduation ceremony , even if we have to postpone it until later in the summer ," Bell said.
Former Tift County Commissioner and community leader Ronald Keith Nixon , 63, died April 21 .

He worked in his family's business, Frank and Solomon Nixon Funeral Home in Tifton , for 45 years. He was a licensed funeral director and a licensed embalmer .

Nixon was a trailblazer , being one of two of the first African Americans elected to the Tift County Commission in 1985 . Nixon served on the commission for 14 years.

He also served as the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia 's representative on the Georgia Fire Fighters Standards and Training Council and as a commissioner on the South Georgia Rural Development Commission board of directors. Nixon also served on the board of the Tift County Residential Housing Corp.

Among his most prized accomplishments was helping to establish the Tift Lift transit system and the Tift Community Health Clinic in conjunction with Tift Regional Medical Center.

Nixon has served as president and vice president of the Coastal Plains HeadStart Policy Council , as a charter member of the PROMISE Men's Club , and as a volunteer with the American Cancer Society , with Hospice of Tiftarea , with the Tifton Soup Kitchen , and as a deputy elections poll manager .

He was active in funeral industry associations , serving as chairman of the Fourth District of the Georgia Funeral Service Practitioner’s Association (GFSPA), as a board member at large, and as a voting delegate of the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association . He also had been named the GFSPA Mortician of the Year.

Nixon remained active in his church, Everette Temple CME Church in Tifton , where he had been named Lay Person of the Year .

He was born Oct. 4, 1956 , in Adel and attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service .

Among survivors are his wife, Rosemary, and son James A. Nixon .
The Georgia State Defense Force helps Second Harvest to distribute food in Tifton on April 9.
Second Harvest of South Georgia , the region's leading hunger-relief organization, will have another free distribution of food on Friday, May 1 , in Tifton .

Boxes of food will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis beginning at 8 a.m. Friday at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture on Whiddon Mill Road in Tifton.

The organization distributed approximately 1,750 boxes of food during its last distribution in Tifton on April 9 . Once again, no proof of eligibility  is required. Food will be placed in the trunk of one's vehicle's with no physical contact .
The  dog   pictured here is among several animals recently  rescued   by  Tift County Animal Control . If this is your pet, please call the  animal shelter   to claim,  229-382-PETS (7387).
Pets of the Week are sponsored by:
Branch's Veterinary Clinic
205 Belmont Ave., Tifton, 229-382-6055
– APRIL 26, 1910
A large crowd attended the unveiling of Tifton's monument to soldiers of the Confederacy on Tuesday, April 26, 1910 . Judge George Hyler was the featured speaker at the ceremony. The monument , placed in the center of the street where Love Avenue intersects with Fourth Street , was placed under the auspices of the United Daughters of the Confederacy . The monument cost a total of $2,000 .
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