All of Georgia’s 159 counties now have at least one case of COVID-19

The historic Peebles House in Glascock County, where there is now one reported case of COVID-19. Jennifer Brett/jennfer.brett@ajc.com
The historic Peebles House in Glascock County, where there is now one reported case of COVID-19. Jennifer Brett/jennfer.brett@ajc.com

Two rural counties learned of their first illnesses recently

And then there were none.

Tiny Glascock County recently learned a patient had tested positive for COVID-19 at a nursing home in Gibson, the county seat. That left just one of Georgia’s 159 counties without an illness, Taliaferro. But then Taliaferro officials announced this week that their county now has a confirmed case.

The highly contagious disease has spared no corner of Georgia. Not metro Atlanta. Not the state's coastal areas. And not its rural, out-of-the-way communities like Taliaferro and Glascock. As of Friday morning, 31,611 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Georgia and 1,352 people had died from the disease, according to Georgia Department of Public Health data.

Located about 35 miles apart from each other between Atlanta and Augusta, the two counties mirror each other in that they are both sparsely populated and heavily agricultural.

Willie Blockum Jr., chairman of the Taliaferro’s Board of Commissioners, announced his county’s first illness on Facebook Monday after learning about it from the state Public Health Department the day before. He said he does not know the identity of the person who has tested positive for the disease.

Named after an American Revolutionary War veteran and congressman, Taliaferro — pronounced “Tolliver,” which rhymes with “Oliver” — is home to about 1,600 people. It is known for being the home of Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy during the Civil War. A sprawling state park near the county seat of Crawfordville is named after him.

County officials did not see a need to announce curfews or other restrictive measures before Gov. Brian Kemp issued his shelter in place order, Blockum said, because residents have taken the outbreak seriously.

“We have been monitoring the city limits and the county, just riding around seeing how things are going,” said Blockum, who also serves as the county’s road superintendent and as a public school paraprofessional.

“Activity in the county kind of decreased. Traffic in the courthouse, business in town — everything decreased. We took that as people taking this situation – this pandemic – very seriously and, like I said, staying at home.”

The state Public Health Department posted Glascock's first confirmed COVID-19 illness — and a death — on its website this week. A patient with the disease is being treated at Gibson Health and Rehabilitation, which offers help with recovery from injuries, hospice care and other services, said Lori Boyen, chairman of the county's Board of Commissioners. The nursing facility did not respond to a request for comment this week.

The death reported for Glascock on the state agency’s website is erroneous, added Boyen, who said she has checked with local and state public health officials about it.

“They are correcting it,” she said in an email Thursday.

Bounded on its western end by the Ogeechee River, Glascock is named after a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Seminole War. Once roamed by Creek Indians, the area’s first white settlers were German immigrants. About 3,000 people live in Glascock today.

County officials have closed school classrooms and government offices and encouraged people to take precautions during the pandemic. Local churches have shut their doors.

“There has been no panic that I know of,” Boyen said. “That has been our saving grace all along.”