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Tucker mayor says mask use has lowered COVID cases in DeKalb County

COVID-19 Tucker

Tucker mayor says mask use has lowered COVID cases in DeKalb County

Image taken from the city of Tucker's Facebook page.
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By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor 

Tucker, GA — Mayor Frank Auman opened the Aug. 10 Tucker City Council meeting with a slide presentation on COVID-19 data, commending mask wearers. Auman said he studies daily briefings provided by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH).

Unlike other cities, Tucker has declined to make masks mandatory, opting instead to promote mask usage through a public awareness campaign.

“The rate of spread is shrinking,” he said, citing the COVID Tracking Project which reported Aug. 10 that Georgia’s reproduction rate is .93. That means for every person who is positive for COVID-19, the disease is transmitted on average to less than one other person.

Amber Schmidtke, a public health microbiologist who runs a popular newsletter analyzing the state COVID data, said the reproduction rate hasn’t been a useful metric for studying the pandemic in Georgia.

“First Rt [reproduction rate] is a metric that makes sense on paper but hasn’t been very useful for predicting things in this pandemic so far, at least, not for Georgia,” she said. “For example, we have been at or near 1 this whole time, even as cases were growing exponentially. So I really don’t put much stock in it whatsoever.”

Data compiled by the DeKalb County Board of Health shows the Tucker zip code – 30084 — is no longer leads the county in COVID-19 cases. Since April, that zip code has dropped from No. 1 to No. 5. As of Aug. 9, the 30084 zip code recorded 816 cases, up 72 cases from Aug. 4. Early on in the pandemic, the number of long-term care facilities in Tucker accounted for many of the cases in the 30084 zip code. A list of cases by zip code appears at the end of this article.

Mayor Auman said he understands many lives have been impacted by COVID-19.

“As a council, as a mayor, we have to look at it from a public policy and public health point of view,” Auman said. “We talk about numbers and trends, not to be insensitive to the individual impact, but to get a sense of how things are going. There’s reason for encouragement.”

Auman pointed to Georgia DPH statistics that show DeKalb’s confirmed cases on a downward trend. Preliminary numbers show DeKalb’s confirmed cases on Aug. 1 were 46, while Aug. 10 is 0. The charts Auman used during his remarks were compiled by Tucker intern Harris Jamal.

But that decline in cases may be an illusion, Schmidtke said.

Schmidtke said the state as a whole hasn’t been aggressive in combatting the pandemic.

“We really haven’t done anything as a population to slow the spread of disease,” she said, noting the state hasn’t adopted a mask mandate and there’s been no discussion of reinstituting a statewide shelter-in-place order. “And exponential growth doesn’t just stop. I think the decline we are seeing in cases is an artifact of testing backlogs.”

While Tucker has not adopted a mask mandate, Auman said Tucker residents have been wearing masks, and it shows.

“We have a moral mandate to do the right thing. We have a social mandate to consider the person near us more important, having a priority over ourselves,” he said. “I’d be willing to bet, literally, that we have as much, if not more, compliance with mask usage in the City of Tucker as any city, anywhere, who claims to have a mask mandate.”

Auman is proud of Tucker. He encouraged people to continue wearing masks and to support businesses that require them.

“When you go in a business, wear a mask,” he said. “If there are other people not wearing a mask, ask them to or turn around and leave. It matters. It makes a difference, and we’re seeing a turn around.”

 

In other business:

– City council members voted unanimously to approve a traffic study of the triangular intersection at LaVista Road, Fellowship Road, and Chamblee Tucker Road near Tucker High School. City engineer Ken Hildebrandt presented a plan to pay CHA Consultants $52,300 to assess transportation problems and identify necessary improvements as part of Tucker’s transportation master plan.

– The city council also voted unanimously on an agreement with Tucker Summit Community Improvement District (CID) to conduct a traffic engineering study at the entrance to Smoke Rise Elementary School at Hugh Howell Road and Flintstone Drive. Mayor Auman said the project is urgent because Smoke Rise Elementary is on schedule to open fall 2021, if not before.

Tucker CID plans to contribute $20,000 and the City of Tucker will pay the remaining $24,000 to Atlas Technical Consultants, who plans to address a safe entrance to the school.

Because Hugh Howell is a state road, Tucker is working with Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), as well as DeKalb County Schools and adjacent property owners including Branch Properties.

– Rip Robertson, Tucker Parks and Recreation director, asked council members to approve a contract to spend $165,499, which includes a 10 percent contingency, for Steele and Associates Inc. to upgrade trails and repair or replace bridges at Henderson Park, Kelley Cofer Park, and Smoke Rise Park. Robertson also presented a contract with Keck and Wood Collaboration to develop construction plans for the field and infrastructure at the Fitzgerald Stadium for $105,500, which includes a 15 percent contingency. Council approved both items.

Robertson said contingencies were included in both bids because the city has not conducted geotechnical studies, used to survey land conditions.

DeKalb County COVID-19 cases by zip code:

ZIP

Previous Count August 4

Current Count August 9

% of Total

% Change

30058

1012

1110

7.9%

9.7%

30083

926
1020

7.3%

10.2%

30034

909

978

7.0%

7.6%

30032

801

868

6.2%

8.4%

30084

742

816

5.8%

10.0%

30329

731

783

5.6%

7.1%

30038

699

757

5.4%

8.3%

30341

691

734

5.2%

6.2%

30340

635

688

4.9%

8.3%

30087

543

605

4.3%

11.4%

30319

540

587

4.2%

11.4%

30021

443

480

3.4%

8.4%

30345

428

453

3.2%

5.8%

30088

403

448

3.2%

11.2%

30033

386

425

3.0%

10.1%

30035

370

399

2.8%

7.8%

30294

288

303

2.2%

5.2%

30360

263

299

2.1%

13.7%

30030

260

297

2.1%

14.2%

30338

265

293

2.1%

10.6%

30316

260

266

1.9%

2.3%

30350

143

171

1.2%

19.6%

30317

124

131

0.9%

5.6%

30346

86

93

0.7%

8.1%

30306

69

76

0.5%

10.1%

30307

71

75

0.5%

5.6%

30002

59

69

0.5%

16.9%

30324

60

60

0.4%

0.0%

30079

58

60

0.4%

3.4%

30288

32

35

0.2%

9.4%

30342

19

18

0.1%

-5.3%

30039

17

18

0.1%

5.9%

30031

16

17

0.1%

6.3%

30044

13

16

0.1%

23.1%

30047

14

15

0.1%

7.1%

30349

13

14

0.1%

7.7%

30093

11

14

0.1%

27.3%

30072

11

11

0.1%

9.1%

30318

11

11

0.1%

0.0%

30094

10

11

0.1%

10.0%

30043

7

11

0.1%

57.1%

30092

9

10

0.1%

11.1%

30012

6

10

0.1%

66.7%

30328

9

9

0.1%

0.0%

30308

9

9

0.1%

0.0%

30052

7

9

0.1%

28..6%

30322

7

8

0.1%

14.3%

30086

7

8

0.1%

14.3%

30016

7`

8

0.1%

14.3%

30331

7

7

0.1%

0.0%

30305

7

7

0.1%

0.0%

30096

6

7

0.0%

16.7%

30022

6

7

0.0%

16.7%

30315

6

6

0.0%

0.0%

Unknown

169

170

1.2%

0.6%

*Data cleaning may lead to reassignment of cases from one territory to another based on corrected addresses which may appear as “decreases” when compared to previous counts.  Zip codes with five or fewer cases were omitted from the table. Information provided by the DeKalb County Board of Health. 

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