A State of Emergency has existed in Chatham County since March 22, but today Chatham County Commission Chairman Al Scott announced new measures intended to keep the COVID-19 virus from entering the county and spreading.
"This amendment goes a step further — it's a step that the mayors couldn't take on their own," he said.
Specifically, anyone entering the County by airplane, bus, train, or at the port will be given a "preliminary test on the way in. We will be checking their temperatures and they will fill out a questionnaire," Scott said.
This will include all those coming in on commercial airline flights.
"All persons entering Chatham County who have been on a cruise ship, airplane, bus or train are required to self-isolate for the next 14 days," said CEMA Director Dennis Jones.
"Any person showing fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 is required to seek immediate medical attention," Jones said.
"This may go as far as anything we've done locally, with the exception of canceling the St. Patrick's Day Parade," Chairman Scott said.
The March 22 declaration already required social distancing measures in county restaurants outside the City of Savannah, which has restricted restaurants within City limits to takeout only.
Bars are now closed throughout Chatham County and all municipalities within it.
Dr. Lawton Davis of the Coastal Georgia Health Department said Chatham County has seen a 300 percent increase in confirmed cases in just the last week.
"Some who focus on the numbers seem to believe we've been relatively lucky so far," Davis said. "Maybe we have, but we must not be complacent."
Davis said COVID-19 typically takes 3-6 weeks to show an "explosion" in cases after initially confirmed in an area.
"Our first cases were confirmed about a week and a half ago. I fully expect our numbers to increase very rapidly over the next several weeks," he said. "And that only represents positive tests, where testing has been very limited."
Davis concluded with a cautionary note.
"To those of you who seem to think you're invincible, or that this is just a joke, please wake up."