Life changed in Folkston after a resident from the town of about 3,300 people was hospitalized with the first known case of coronavirus in Charlton County several weeks ago.
The 29-year-old woman has been released from the hospital and is recovering, which is sending mixed messages to some in the community.
Charlton County Administrator Hampton Raulerson said the vast majority of residents are taking the health advisories seriously. But there are a handful of people who still aren’t practicing social distancing.
“People are still scared about it,” he said. “One of my concerns is the elderly in the county.”
Volunteers are delivering enough food to sustain elderly shut-ins for a week at a time to minimize their contact with the outside world.
County commissioners are still trying to decide how to hold their next meeting, which Raulerson said will likely be electronically, with a way for the public to participate. The agenda will only have essential business that needs to be discussed.
Another issue making some jumpy is all the people with sinus problems this time of year.
“There’s lots of pollen in the air,” he said. “Everyone’s looking at each other side-eyed if someone sneezes.”
In Hoboken, a town of 528 people, city clerk Linda Henderson said local residents are taking health advisories seriously.
“It’s like a ghost town,” she said. “This is so different.”
Most businesses are closed as a way to keep Brantley County from having its first case of the virus.
“The more you stay in, the less you have to worry about,” she said. “They’d rather be safe than sorry.”
Samantha Young, Woodbine city administrator, said nearly every business in town is closed.
“We have really been pushing the narrative to keep inside as much as possible,” she said. “Coming out of the house has to stop at this point. Our citizens are taking this very seriously.”
City hall is closed to the public and open part-time three days a week with only one person in the building at a time, she said. Public works, water and sewer, grass cutting, ditch maintenance and other essential city functions are still being conducted on a part-time basis as a way to protect city employees, she said. All city employees will receive a full paycheck despite working fewer hours until things return to normal.
There is no false sense of security because residents live in a small town with a population of about 1,400.
“We realize at this point we don’t know,” Young said. “It isn’t a matter of it not being here. I’m concerned for all of us.”