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Jackson, Gadsden counties implement additional safety measures after making CDC's COVID-19 hotspot list

Posted at 6:17 PM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-03 18:17:49-04

QUINCY, Fla. (WTXL) — Leaders in the more rural counties in our area are making changes to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Gadsden County and Jackson County both made the list of counties to watch by the CDC, according to Yahoo News.

Quincy Mayor Ronte Harris says it's frightening, especially when you consider the lack of resources in the community. But Jackson County's Department of Health says their numbers are mostly due to prison outbreaks.

"It's been alarming for us," said Harris.

Gadsden County issued a mask mandate in early April, months before other nearby counties.

They briefly got rid of the mandate, but growing cases brought it and a curfew back.

Still, social gathering is a problem.

"A lot of them are not necessarily intentional gatherings," Harris said. "A lot of them are connected to funerals and different things that are happening because we are losing individuals in our community due to COVID."

Yahoo News reports that an internal report with the CDC put Gadsden County on its top ten list of rapidly spreading communities.

That list is looking at case growth over a two-week span.

"I think we're becoming a little more relaxed than we should be at this time," said Harris. "The numbers are steady, rising."

Neighboring Jackson County also made the list. Unlike Gadsden, the Jackson Department of Health says its numbers aren't as bad as the report makes it seem.

"During that two week time period they were referencing in that article, we received 532 positives from a local correctional institution," said Tommy Harkrider with the Jackson Department of Health. "So that kind of skews the data a little bit."

Harkrider says cases within Graceville Correctional Institution account for about 44 percent of the total numbers, and the changes they've put in place have kept the numbers from climbing high again.

"They're taking the precautions that any correctional institution would take," said Harkrider. "They're isolating those individuals that are positive, grouping the individuals that are positive together when necessary, and working with isolation protocol from there."

Quincy police are handing out fines for anyone caught without a mask. They're also putting a police officer at burials to ensure social distancing.

Mayor Harris says the commission continues to look at other ways to make sure the community is practicing safe measures.