Thanksgiving COVID surge hits Middle Georgia

Published 4:25 pm Tuesday, January 12, 2021



By Neil B. McGahee

Managing Editor


Crisp Regional Hospital has changed its status to divert meaning that when an incoming ambulance radios the hospital to let them know they’re coming, the reply is “sorry, we can’t take them.”

And that isn’t just true at Crisp Regional.

“It’s happening at all area hospitals as the Thanksgiving holiday surge continues to grow,”

Chief Nursing Supervisor April Dukes told the Cordele Lion’s Club Tuesday. “What we are experiencing at our hospital is something else. Nearly every hospital in the state is shut down. In the 30 years I have been doing this, I hope I never see it again.”

“Based on the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases following Thanksgiving, and the threat of another surge following Christmas and New Year’s gatherings, we are in survivor mode. We are trying our best to get from one hour to the next.

“We can’t see emergency cases because the entire ER is filled with COVID cases. When I came to work this morning, there were three empty ER rooms and we usually have16. We are simply overwhelmed.”

The confirmed data at Crisp Regional shows the death rate is increasing sharply in older patients and that is the reason they are getting priority status.

The ratio of people hospitalized to death rates varies by county.

Crisp County has recorded a 2.7 percent death rate; Dodge 4.7; Dooly 3.9; Doroughty, 4.7; Lee 2.8, Sumter 5; Tift 2.4 and Wilcox 6.3 percent.

But there is a glimmer of hope.

The first vaccines have arrived and have been dispensed to first responders, hospital employees and people in nursing homes.

The second shipment is expected any time and it will be dispensed to those 65 and older.

Dukes encouraged people to register with the Crisp County Health Department and be prepared to come on a moment’s notice to get the vaccinations.





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Beal-Shephard tries to weather the storm over City HallBy Neil B. McGahee Managing Editor Cordele City Commissioner Vesta Beal-Shephard was elected in 2001 to represent the people of Ward One. By all accounts, she has done a very good job of relating to the citizens living in her ward. Recently, however, a dark cloud has settled over City Hall. From the first day of his term, newly-elected commission chairman Joshua Antwan Deriso began taking verbal snipes on social media at some of the other commissioners. Shephard says she just ignored it at first but on April 9, Deriso posted on Facebook “…It was much anticipated for Comm. Rainey to be against change. Comission (sp) Shephard fights against me the hardest…does not know much about government at all…She needs to be voted out next year 2023.” A few days later, he posted live saying …“I am totally over the games, the political stuff…a lot of people want to make what I said about Commissioner Shephard something about disagreement with Commissioner Shephard. It was her ignorance and short-sightedness…not able to understand what we can do as a government. “When there were people in charge that didn’t look like us…white people… she didn’t question anything. Since I became chairman, she has blocked everything…you don’t know what you are doing; you don’t know what you are talking about.” Shephard winces as she listens to Deriso. “I don’t do drama and I don’t do pettiness,” she said. “I refute everything he has said about me. I’m not angry with Josh; I am somewhat disturbed that he has targeted me, a citizen of Cordele; a black female…he accused me of loving white folks. Well I do love white folks, and brown folks and black folks — Haitian, Jamaican, Indian, Cuban, Mexican — I have no discrimination to anyone. My job is to facilitate for people in this ward and when I vote, I vote my conviction.” Shephard said she doesn’t know why Deriso has such hard feelings against her. “It’s so sad, I have to say that I never saw it coming,” she said. ”But I have to voice my opinion.” But one sad thing has evolved from this. “This is the first time I have been discriminated against by a fellow commissioner,” she said. “I used to invite people to my home if they had a problem. But I had to stop that. If you want to meet with me, we will have to go to a public area or to my office at city hall. I am going to keep my distance for the simple reason that I don’t want to endanger myself.