Officials worry 60 vacancies on Fulton County Board of Health could impact possible coronavirus outbreak

The county is working on a contingency plan in case the virus spreads.

ATLANTA — Fulton County’s health director gave a presentation to Fulton County commissioners Wednesday afternoon, telling them there are 60 vacancies on the county’s board of health and they are worried how that could impact a potential coronavirus outbreak.

Fulton County Board of Health says they may come up with their own test for the coronavirus.

“Other state labs, our lab and other hospitals, will be able to develop an in-house test for the virus,” said Dr. David Holland with the board.

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Interim Fulton County Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Ford said right now, patients showing symptoms are tested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Once a vaccine is developed, Ford said the county may do drive-through clinics, like they sometimes do with the flu -- a virus with very similar symptoms to COVID 19.

“The only difference is with flu, you tend to have more body aches,” Ford said.

Right now, the board of health is putting out e-blasts and proactively working with high risk communities like the Fulton County Jail, homeless shelters and senior facilities.

But health workers are not going into communities due to a limited staff.

Fulton County resident Larry Gissentanna said that’s a worry.

“I think they need to hire some folks, because that’s very important because of the public health,” Gissentanna said.

Fulton County is currently making contingency plans in case the virus spreads, forcing its 4,000 employees to separate into temporary buildings.

“You could call it a temporary office. We’d have computers, we’d have communications, we’d have conference lines so that we could run the government a bit more virtually than we do today,” Fulton County Public Safety Director Alton Adams said.

The county also plans to wipe down machines and put out hand sanitizer as people go to vote later this month in the presidential primary.

The board of health urged those depending on hand sanitizer against the coronavirus to make sure that they’re using a solution that’s at least 60% alcohol, the minimum to be effective.