Tift County is experiencing a significant increase in COVID-19 cases.  The total count of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Tift is 2,429. This is an increase of 464 cases since November 11. Total cases across South Health District are 12,224. This shows an increase of 1,884 cases since November 11 and 2,942 since October 11.  Tift County’s percent positive between December 5-11 was 13-20 percent, an increase of 5-10 percent from the same time frame one months prior.

“This increase in Tift County is concerning. We hope this will serve as a reminder to everyone that COVID is very present in our communities,” said William R. Grow, MD, FACP, district health director. “While we understand that a vaccine seems to be close, that does not mean that residents should stop taking precautions such as wearing a mask and social distancing. Practicing these precautions is especially important as we approach Christmas.”

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) wants to remind everyone of the importance of continuing precautions.

Practice social distancing – keep at least 6 feet between yourself and other people.

Wash your hands – use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60% alcohol) if soap and water aren’t readily available.

Wear a mask – The CDC recommends the use of face masks or simple cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19, especially where social distancing is difficult to maintain (grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.).

Answer the call -  If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, public health will call you and ask you to self-quarantine at home for 14 days from the day that you were exposed. Do your part to keep your family and your community safe: answer the call to slow the spread.

Get your flu shot ­- Due to the similarities between flu and COVID, it is more important this year than ever to get your flu shot. Every individual over the age of six months should get a flu vaccine – not just for their own protection, but to protect others around them who may be more vulnerable to the flu and its complications.

It is also important to remember that, in addition to avoiding large gatherings, small gatherings are also a significant source of increased spread. This is especially important to remember as we approach Christmas.

This holiday season, the safest option this holiday season is to celebrate with only those within your household and to host virtual or video gatherings with extended family. This ensures that no one is exposed to those outside of their home and allows everyone to still celebrate.

Free COVID-19 testing continues to be available in all 10 counties across the Georgia Department of Public Health’s South Health District. The South Health District includes Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Cook, Echols, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, Tift and Turner Counties.

Self-registration for COVID testing is available online at covid19.dph.ga.gov.

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