Videos: COVID 19 briefing by Lowndes Health and GA-DPH 2020-03-12

Update 2020-03-13: Presentation Slides and More information on the DPH website.

Dr. William R. Grow, Director, Georgia’s South Health District, said he had never seen anything like this in his 40 year medical career. Handwashing is the single best prevention for the novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease it causes.


Status at this meeting, 9AM Thursday March 12, 2020, was one case from South Georgia Medical Center (SGMC) tested positive when he went to a Florida hospital, SGMC is scrubbing itself, and Moody Air Force Base had one positive case of the virus.

There is no GA DPH recommendation yet on large meetings other than if you’re ill stay home. The Mayor of Savannah has postponed St. Patrick’s Day, and Ireland, Chicago, and Boson have cancelled theirs. So far Azalea Festival in Valdosta says it will go on, with multiple hand-washing stations.

Here are the main parts of the meeting, which was at South Health HQ on Savannah Ave. in Valdosta, Georgia.

Since that meeting, the World Health Organization declared the virus a pandemic, the NBA cancelled the rest of its season, NCAA decided to play without spectators in the buildings, the U.S. has announced a partial travel ban with the European Union, the University of Georgia has ordered all campuses closed, including Valdosta State University, the Georgia legislature plans to pause indefinitely, and Disney World is closing. Also, Moody AFB is testing for two more possible cases. There is another case in Alachua County, Florida.

The virus causes the respiratory disease COVID 19, manifesting in worst cases as pneumonia. Apparently about 80% of people infected will have mild cases, but that means fever, cough, and weakness; anything short of needing oxygen. The older the infected person, the worse the disease. The fatality rate is at least ten times that of flu. Like flu, this virus is airborne; any sneeze can carry it many feet. So even if you’re young, you can easily get it on you and carry it to infect older people.

The Georgia Department of Health recommends keeping six feet of distance. Unlike flu, there is no vaccine and no Tamiflu equivalent. And this virus is spreading faster than flu.

In Italy, cases went from hundreds one week to thousands the next.

If this disease develops here like it has in Italy, expect 20 cases next week, 200 the following week, and 2000 after that.

If we’re being alarmist, we can all laugh about it later. If not, we’re saving lives by washing hands, not touching faces, cancelling events, and keeping social distance.

We can’t stop the disease, but we can slow its spread enough that our health care facilities have some chance of keeping up with the severe cases, which will mean fewer people will die.

Q & A

Beforehand, Courtney Sheeley expressed concern about people not wanting to be on-camera during the Q&A. So I agreed to turn the camera off for that. Afterwards, I pointed out that at least two people were recording sound during the Q&A on their smartphones. A public meeting is a public meeting.


  • William Grow, MD, FACP, District Health Director
  • Kenneth Lowery, District Epidemiologist
  • Lauren Bewley, Emergency Preparedness Director
  • Courtney Sheeley, Director of Communications & Special Projects
  • Kristin Patten, Public Information Officer/Risk Communicator

[Three question answerers]
Three question answerers

Here’s a LAKE video playlist:

Videos: COVID 19 briefing by Lowndes Health and GA-DPH 2020-03-12
Video by John S. Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia.


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