‘I’ve been to way too many COVID-19 funerals’: Statesboro officials address spike in cases

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STATESBORO, Ga. (WSAV) – Officials are pleading with Bulloch County residents Tuesday to help stop a growing coronavirus outbreak. Cases are spiking two weeks after public schools and Georgia Southern University students returned to class.

In the past four days, data from Bulloch County Public Safety/EMA reports there have been nearly 400 new coronavirus cases. Now that a citywide mask mandate has been in place for two weeks, the mayor is asking residents to take individual responsibility.

“I’ve been to way too many COVID-19 funerals and when I’m at these funerals and I’m consoling family members, I cannot help but think if there was something we could have done a better job in saving lives,” said Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar.

The fight against coronavirus is also personal for Bulloch County Commission Chairman Roy Thompson. His grandson has underlying medical conditions.

“Leadership is only as good as the people you’re trying to lead. If they will not comply to the orders at hand, then we have a serious problem,” warned Thompson.

The mayor and area health officials say they expected the problem to get worse after students returned to class.

“This spike is not coming as a surprise,” explained Mayor McCollar. “This is something that we’ve been preparing for for months.”

Data released on Tuesday shows in the last seven days, on average, 26 percent of coronavirus cases have come back positive. The goal is to keep that number below five percent.

Bulloch County Public Safety/EMA Director Ted Wynm says there is hope for the county if everyone wears a mask.

“If we do it right, I think in 3-4 weeks, we can begin to see this go down,” said Wynn.

“What is killing business right now is the failure of those individuals who refuse to wear a mask and are contributing to the spread of this virus within our community. That’s the truth that is the fact,” said the mayor.

Bulloch County Commissioners have not drafted nor issued a countywide mask mandate. The chairman says there is a possibility the commission will speak about the issue at a meeting on Tuesday night.

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