HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — As the numbers spike, Houston County now has the most COVID-19 cases here in Central Georgia.
Houston County Fire Chief and EMA Director Christopher Stoner said that number keeps climbing because more tests are available in Georgia.
"I think we can attribute a lot of the increase yesterday to increased testing and finally getting some of those results back."
He said in Georgia alone, there have been about 15,000 tests.
With 30 cases and 3 deaths, Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms said if people don't start taking the virus seriously, the city may need stricter rules.
"People are not taking the personal responsibility to do what they know they need to do, either that or they’re not taking it seriously enough, and I’m telling you that with the numbers that Houston County has right now, this is serious," said Toms. "So am I considering a shelter in place? I suppose. Am I considering a curfew? If I really though a curfew would be the answer, then I wouldn’t be opposed to a curfew."
He said he is having those discussions with the other mayors in Houston County, in Perry, and Centerville to make sure they're all on the same page, but he thinks stronger enforcement of what's already in place might help.
"Some of the stores, they start out good and then they start to slip and they… before you know it, everybody is jumbled up. I mean, there is a thing called personal responsibility and I just don’t think there’s enough people in our communities that are taking it seriously," said Toms.
He said he continues to see people gathering in parks and football fields playing touch football and basketball, so he has decided to take down the basketball rims on courts around the city to cut down on the crowds.
He said cracking down on the rules laid out in the emergency declaration might make them take it seriously.
"I think as we go forward, yes. I think there needs to be some kind of dread to the orders that are in place," said Toms.
Warner Robins Police Chief John Wagner said having a curfew in place would be difficult with Robins Air Force Base because of late shifts.
"It's just unique in that we are a 24-hour city as far as works goes or industry goes," said Wagner.
He said they have code enforcement officers out with them checking up on stores and making sure they understand the order.
Wagner also said they've gotten a few calls about people gathering in large groups, but for the most part he thinks people have done a good job self-policing their social distancing.
"There’s definitely people that are calling about that. We’ll go out there and remind the crowds or the groups and ask them to disperse," said Wagner.
But he said if it comes down to it, they'll start writing more citations.
"If it continues on there are steps that we are able to go on further with and have a little bit stronger response on it."
Violation of the Emergency Declaration could result in a $1,000 fine.
Mayor Toms said he doesn't know what it's going to take for people to understand that the virus is serious.
"It’s causing people to get sick. It’s causing people to die, so if I thought a shelter in place would, and 2 weeks of it would stop all of this, no questions asked. I hope every elected official feels the same way... we would do it, but we don’t know how long this thing is going to last."
FACTS NOT FEAR | At 13WMAZ, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the coronavirus. To see our full coverage, visit our site section here: www.13wmaz.com/Coronavirus.
STAY UPDATED | Click here to subscribe to our Midday Minute newsletter and receive the latest headlines and information in your inbox every day.
Have a news tip? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our Facebook page.