Walton County EMA director says Hard Labor Creek potential COVID-19 camp ‘just a precaution’

Walton County Emergency Management Agency Director Carl Morrow spoke at the start of Loganville City Council work session Monday, urging calm, following Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s announcement that an area in Hard Labor Creek State Park is being prepared as a potential isolation location for monitoring patients who may have been exposed to COVID-19. He re-iterated that it was identified as a potential location out of an abundance of caution.

“This is emergency management planning,” Morrow said. “Like I’m working on shelters in case we are ever in need for something like a tornado. We don’t want to wait until the last second and that’s what the state is doing.”

Morrow said, after word got out Monday, he and the EMA director from Morgan County had their phones blow up with people concerned about the issue. He then contacted the governor’s office to figure out exactly what the situation was. He said Hard Labor Creek State Park and a couple of other sites are locations near the main corridors, in this case Interstate 20, for compromised people who may travel into the state.

“So they can house them there temporarily until they can find somewhere else to put them,” Morrow said. There is a chance they will never have to be used.

In his press release, Kemp noted that no patients are currently scheduled to be moved to this location. This is an isolated section of Hard Labor Creek State Park and seven emergency trailers have been transferred in and related materials are en route for possible future use. The Department of Public Safety will provide security for the location and it will be closed off from the rest of the park. Morrow said Hard Labor Creek Reservoir is not included in any way. There are however some people who are concerned about the close proximity to Walton and Morgan County communities and have started a petition to request that this location not be used and a location nearer the airport be considered. You can click or tap on this link to reach the petition.

Morrow said of the people in Georgia identified as likely positive for COVID-19, none are in Region 10, which is where Walton County is located. Gwinnett County does have one presumptive case. As of Tuesday morning, there were six confirmed cases in Georgia and 11 presumptive cases that have not yet been confirmed. He said people themselves are the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Wash hands,” Morrow emphasized, noting that hand sanitize is selling out quickly but good old soap and water works fine,” Morrow said. “This is kind of like the flu and spreads the same way with coughing and sneezing. I’ve already sent out publications to public safety and to employees. Sanitize equipment, wash your hands and if you’re handling money, wear gloves – just general practices to stay clean. If you’re sick stay at home if you can. Avoid large crowds, such as major concerts – not little local concerts – everybody there should be doing the same thing. Quit traveling abroad if you can.”

Morrow said if you feel like you’re getting flu, with difficulty breathing, call your health provider.

“That is where the difference is – the difficulty in breathing. If you call your health provider they will advise you on where to go so you’re not going in where the general public is,” he said.

The elderly and people with compromised health are most at risk and the fatalities are much higher in patients 80 and above. According to World OMeters, of the confirmed deaths worldwide, 80 years and above have a 14.8 %, dropping to 8 % for 70 to 79 and down to .4 % for below 50 years. There have been no recorded fatalities for anybody under 9 years of age.

Morrow said there is a Powerpoint on COVID-19 on the Walton County Government website under the Emergency Management Agency department. It can be downloaded to be read, printed out and distributed if necessary. If you have questions, the EMA office number at Walton County is 770-267-1336 or the number for the Department of Public Health is 1-866-782-4584, press 3 for COVID-19 and then 1.

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