The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

Coweta casual


  • By Clay Neely
  • |
  • Mar. 30, 2020 - 2:18 PM

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Last week, local leaders signed off on restrictions to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in our community, but has it really made an impact?

On Saturday, the parking lot Sellers-Smith Funeral Home was reportedly filled with at least 40 cars of those attending a service inside.

The city contacted the funeral home, which cited ignorance about the newly enacted ordinance pertaining to gatherings of 10 or more people set by the city and county last week.

Gov. Brian Kemp issued an earlier executive order last Tuesday limiting gatherings to 10 or more – if people were required to be closer than 6 feet from each other.

Local ordinances took effect Thursday and go a step further, limiting gatherings to 10 – no matter how close or far apart people may be.

According to Benjamin Smith, the funeral home was operating under the CDC’s previous guidelines that limit gatherings to 50 people.

Once contacted by the city, the funeral home said they would take care of it.

This oversight is particularly alarming in wake of the current COVID-19 outbreak in Albany where officials said they believe a large number of cases in Dougherty County are linked to two funerals.

Mayor Keith Brady said he’s been both pleased and extremely disappointed in the public’s reaction to the ordinance set by the city council last week.

“There are those who are actually aware of the world around them, and for some reason, Sellers-Smith isn’t,” he said. “It’s hard to believe someone in that business didn’t know.”

Across town, many businesses have shut their doors or altered the way they’re doing business.

Waffle House, a mainstay for the 24-7 business model, has shifted to providing not only curbside service for their food – but also groceries to go.

Brady said he’s disappointed in those refraining from social distancing and cramming the parking lots of Walmart and Lowe’s on a Saturday afternoon, perusing the garden section.

“What does it take for someone to listen and understand the seriousness of the situation?” Brady asked.

Cobb, DeKalb, and Gwinnett are among several counties that have issued “stay at home” orders to residents. Residents can only leave to conduct activities that are essential to their health and safety.

In light of the way Cowetans are handling the ordinances, Brady expects further action will be needed in order to make an impression. Presently, the ordinance does not provide a specific criminal violation.

“We’re looking at the next step to see what we need to close in order to get people’s attention,” he said.

Since our governor has essentially left all decisions regarding health up to Georgia’s local leaders, it’s crucial they take immediate action to curtail the harm COVID-19 could potentially bring to our community.

If our leaders take these issues seriously, hopefully, the public will follow.