Chatham Co. to screen visitors for COVID-19

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Officials said Monday that anyone entering Chatham County by public transport will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.

Chairman Al Scott announced the measure as an amendment to the county’s local state of emergency order issued earlier this month. By week’s end, anyone traveling through Greyhound or Amtrak stations or Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport will have their temperature checked and undergo a series of questions.

The amendment also allows the Port of Savannah or any locations owned by the Georgia Ports Authority to conduct screening.

If visitors note any signs of COVID-19 or show any symptoms, they would undergo additional screening and may be asked to self-quarantine and contact their primary care doctor for further instruction.

“It’s a step that the mayors couldn’t take on their own,” Scott said.

Watch more of Monday’s briefing:

Officials said these checkpoints will be up and running in the coming days. Some personal protective equipment ordered for those administering tests is expected to be here within the next three days, according to Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) Director Dennis Jones.

“A lot of resources are being put in place, a lot of coordination efforts are being conducted around the clock,” Jones said. “This is a managed response to this event from all of the mayors, all of the elected officials standing behind me.”

Those entering the Chatham County Courthouse for Monday’s presser had their temperatures taken, including Sheriff John Wilcher (photo: NOW’s Jon Dowding)

“We can’t stress enough the importance of self-policing,” he added, citing hand-washing and social distancing as key practices.

At this time there is no shelter at home order for the county as there is in the City of Savannah. When asked about the possibility of that order Monday, county officials said there have been discussions but the decision would ultimately be up to the governor.

As of Monday, the state has reported 16 cases of COVID-19 in Chatham County. While exact statistics weren’t provided, Coastal Health District Director Dr. Lawton Davis said he expects numbers to increase rapidly in the county in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, CEMA is working to establish emergency hospitals should there be a local surge in patients with the virus.

At Memorial Health, a tent donated by the agency has been set up which is “strictly a precautionary measure.

“With Memorial Health being a Level 1 Trauma Center and Tier 2 Facility for Serious Infectious Disease for the state of Georgia, the hospital is making all necessary preparations to be ready to help our community,” the hospital stated.

For more updates on the county’s COVID-19 actions, visit

courtesy Memorial HealthW

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