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Presumptive positive case of coronavirus reported in Lowndes County

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Posted at 7:30 PM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 14:03:52-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — The Georgia Department of Public Health has reported a positive case of COVID-19 in Lowndes County.

The infected person was treated at South Georgia Medical Center but was later transferred to an unspecified hospital in Florida. The source of exposure is unknown.

While SGMC says they do not have a COVID-19 patient in any of its three hospitals right now, leadership was notified on Wednesday that a former patient of the SGMC main hospital in Valdosta was treated from March 5 to March 7 and transferred to a hospital in Florida.

SGMC held a press conference on Thursday:

That patient later received a presumptive diagnosis of coronavirus. This is the first COVID-19 case reported in our local area.

Because of the diagnosis and the exposure of some SGMC team members, SGMC enacted its exposure protocol as recommended by the CDC out of an abundance of caution.

The SGMC response team is evaluating the level of exposure for each identified staff member (high, medium or low) with guidance from the Department of Public Health.

SGMC's leadership team and employee health staff are currently in the process of reaching out to all members of the team that have been identified as being exposed to this patient and will continue to do so until all have been communicated with thoroughly.
We want to ensure the community that SGMC is prepared to care for all types of patients, including those with COVID-19 symptoms and will continue to take all necessary precautions to maintain the safest environment for patients, staff and visitors.
GMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Dawson

All staff who were exposed will remain in close contact with SGMC leadership team and employee health staff. SGMC will continue to work closely with the Department of Public Health to ensure all appropriate plans are carried out according to CDC guidelines.

According to Dawson some staff members may immediately return to work, while others will remain at home until returning to work is appropriate. Regardless, our top priority is that we take every precaution to create the safest conditions possible for those exposed, our patients, our visitors and other members of our team.

The best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are:

- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid close contact with others.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Stay home if you're sick.
- Wear a facemask if your're sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces daily.