Forsyth County, Northside Hospital Forsyth staff and volunteers from around the community received a thank you from Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan on Wednesday, Feb. 10. Duncan toured Browns Bridge Church, a county public vaccination location, to see the efforts in administering the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible residents.
“To me, this is just one more reason why I’m proud to be from Forsyth County, why I’m proud I get to raise my family here, to be able to put on display this great example,” Duncan said. “I think this [vaccination] example that’s being held here is not just for Georgians to see and other communities to see, but for folks all around the country to watch.”
Duncan took a tour led by Forsyth County Manager Kevin Tanner and Emergency Management Agency Director Chris Grimes.
Cindy Jones Mills, District 4 commission chairwoman was also present for the tour.
After the tour, Duncan said each organization was demonstrating “teamwork in every sense of the word.”
Grimes spoke about the connections his EMA team members have been able to make before the vaccine distribution and how important it has been to make sure that each resident of Forsyth County that wants a vaccine feel the support.
“[Residents] don’t just feel like a number [at the vaccination events], they feel welcome,” Grimes said. “We want to make sure our folks know and our residents know … that they can count on us, that we’re going to be there and we’re going to help support them through times like this.”
As always, Grimes said it is his goal to make sure that each person who wants to receive the vaccine will have that opportunity.
He said that as of Tuesday, Feb. 9, over 5,000 people have been vaccinated at the county’s public vaccination events.
Lynn Jackson, chief operating officer of Northside Hospital Forsyth, thanked her many volunteers, saying “we will live in the future we build” and that health care workers are working to shape the future into a bright one by ramping up vaccinations and getting information to the public to help residents overcome vaccine hesitancy.
“I could think of no team more qualified to do this than the team we’ve been working with,” Jackson said. “And they have been able to provide a safe and efficient delivery plan for thousands of our most vulnerable and previously isolated community members and their caregivers. And it’s giving [those residents] an opportunity to envision a way back – a way back to a life that is more open, more available to them.”
Jackson said she was thankful to hear people at the public vaccination events talking about getting to see their families again and sharing in the joy of freedom being slowly brought back into daily life.
Duncan finished by expressing his pride in Forsyth County and pride in his home church for offering its facilities to the county.
He said that each November, Browns Bridge Church puts on an event called ‘Be Rich’ that teaches the importance of giving over getting. The church partners with local community organizations to help those that are homeless, battling hunger and addiction and those transitioning out of jail to serve the community and give back.
“And so that is really, really neat to be a part of [this vaccination event], and it’s humbling to know that this church is making this big of an impact,” Duncan said. “But you know what, I’ve just come to expect it. It’s one of the things that draws myself, my wife and my kids here every Sunday is just the outpouring of support for the community, and it’s great to watch this intersection of … churches and charities and corporations and just plain old citizens that want to make a difference.”
“Forsyth County has examples [of that] all over the place, this is just one of those examples. But it is certainly a proud moment for me,” he said. “Can’t wait to get back to coming to church here every Sunday.”
Duncan also answered comments from the crowd. One question centered around hospitals reporting that hospitalizations are down and if he thought that was a testament to the state’s vaccine rollout, particularly referencing events such as the public vaccination events that the county has been holding.
“I think there’s a culmination of folks social distancing, wearing masks in all the appropriate places and also, the vaccine’s starting to layer in,” Duncan said.
On the topics of masks, a question was asked about the consideration of a mask mandate due to the recent CDC study regarding double-masking.
“I think it’s an opportunity for us to continue to put personal responsibility at the forefront … I think at times, the mandate become a distraction, but ultimately, the right thing to do is to wear the mask when at all possible,” Duncan said. “The true reasons for the mask, as has been explained to me, is to prevent somebody else around you from being infected. So certainly, that’s something I take very seriously, and our family takes very seriously.”
Duncan thanked the countless volunteers from the Forsyth County staff, sheriff’s office, fire department and hospital for their continued time and efforts.
“Hopefully we can put on display for the rest of Georgia and the rest of the country what it truly can do when you partner as a team,” Duncan said. “I thank you to all volunteers, thank you to folks at the hospital that, over the last 12 months, have literally put their lives on the line.”
“[Forsyth County] is a vibrant community despite a pandemic,” he said.