Corona Virus in Rome


Washing hands can reduce the spread of viruses like COVID-19. Art by Julia Belew

David Patel, Staff Writer

The Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed that a Rome patient tested positive for coronavirus Friday morning.

This morning, The Rome News-Tribune reported a Floyd Medical Center patient is currently in isolation after testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to a statement from Floyd Medical Center, the 46-year-old woman, who had recently flown to Washington, D.C., went to the emergency room on Saturday, February 29 with “flu-like symptoms” and was released.

She was screened in accordance with both the CDC and the Georgia Department of Public Health’s protocol.

At that time, the Rome resident — whose name is being withheld, in keeping with federal and state HIPAA rules and regulations — did not meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing nor did her condition warrant admission to inpatient facilities at the hospital.

Upon experiencing worsening symptoms, the woman returned to FMC on Tuesday, March 3, and further testing was performed.

The hospital notified the GDPH of the patient’s condition, and the GDPH authorized her release from the facility.

However, “despite the patient, again, not meeting COVID-19 screening criteria,” medical staff at FMC made an executive decision “to admit her to the hospital due to her condition,” according to FMC’s official statement.

“At the adamant urging of the attending physician and District Health Director, Gary Voccio, CDC and GDPH authorized the COVID-19 testing for the patient,” according to the statement. The preliminary COVID-19 test result was positive.

“This is not a community-wide outbreak,” Voccio said. However, he did say another person is in quarantine related to the case.

Ben Rigas of FMC said that, at this point, no hospital personnel have been quarantined. He reiterated that FMC is conducting business as usual and that the hospital is adequately prepared to handle the situation.

Voccio and Rigas both emphasized that the risk of contracting the coronavirus in an environment such as a hospital waiting room or ER was “very low.”

Rigas confirmed that no other people are in medical isolation regarding contact with the COVID-19 patient.

“To prevent the spread of incomplete or inaccurate information, we encourage Georgians to rely on guidance from the CDC, the DPH and my office,” said Governor, Brian Kemp. “We will continue to provide regular updates to keep the public informed and ensure the health and safety of families across our state.”

GHC President, Don Green, said in an institution-wide email on Thursday, “GHC will continue to monitor developments surrounding COVID-19 while also working closely with the GDPH to take appropriate steps to mitigate the potential impact or risk of the virus in our communities.”

Meanwhile, the DPH is attempting to identify and contact anyone who may have been exposed to the patient.

Once identified, those who may have been potentially exposed to the coronavirus will be contacted directly by a GDPH epidemiologist and monitored for fever and respiratory problems.

Kathleen Toomey, Georgia’s public health commissioner, said the risk for an outbreak among the general public remains low, and there are no indications that the virus is spreading within local communities at this point.

As officials start to test more people arriving from other countries, Toomey said more cases could begin to surface.

“We expect we will ultimately find more positive cases,” Toomey said at a Thursday press conference. “The more you test, the more you find.”

Previously, two Georgians have tested positive for COVID-19: a 15-year-old enrolled in Living Science Homeschool Studies in Woodstock and the teen’s father. Both of them reside in Fulton County.

The Six Mile Post will continue to monitor the situation and bring coverage when new information is made available.