Georgia National Guard troops spent part of Tuesday at a nursing home in Ellijay making sure it remains free of coronavirus.
It’s part of a statewide effort ordered by Gov. Brian Kemp to send troops to nursing homes and assisted living facilities where residents are at high risk of suffering serious effects of COVID-19.
So far there have been no positive cases at Parkside Ellijay, and Lt. Jacob Mizell wants to keep it that way.
“We’re taking these cleaning products that we were given and making sure we’re getting all the commonly touched areas… light switches, handrails--things of that nature that everybody would be touching,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.
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They are also cleaning common areas and even residents’ rooms.
The unit, based in Canton, is sending troops to two nursing homes a day to do the same thing.
“These sights are (at) the most high risk for the COVID-19, especially with the elderly and being in close proximity to each other. We just want to make sure these sights are taken care of and sanitized so that we protect the public and protect these residents as well,” says Mizell.
Besides cleaning, troops are also educating staff on how to property clean. Co-owner and manager Michael Feist says the facility has already been going to great lengths to keep its residents safe.
“There has not been a visitor. It’s been a steel trap. It’s like Fort Knox only it’s more important—it’s people and not money,” he says.
Staff members have been using Facetime to allow residents to communicate with family members and are also providing phones so they can talk and see each other through windows at the facility.
“We feel strongly that we have this under control. We’re happy to say that we have no people in the building that are symptomatic and nobody has tested positive from our staff or our patients,” says Feist.
Lt. Nathan Ballew, who with Mizell leads the cleaning team, says he never thought sanitization would be part of his duties in the Guard. But he says it’s just as important.
“That’s one of the most important parts of maintaining a National Guard—having that state-level entity to go and help whatever this situation is. So, we stay adaptable and flexible, train and educate, and then clean a little,” he says.