CAIRO — Mayor Howard Thrower urged local business leaders Monday night to implement more stringent safety guidelines to protect employees and members of the public from the novel coronavirus amid an apparent surge of cases in the area.

Cases of COVID-19 are reaching all-time highs in Grady County. The Southwest Georgia Public Health District is reporting 348 cases of the virus have been identified as of Tuesday late morning, with more than a dozen new diagnoses over the weekend, and Thrower said the time has come for residents to take the virus seriously.

“Many people are just refusing to take any safety precautions for various reasons,” the mayor said near the end of Monday’s meeting of the Cairo City Council. “There are people who are carriers of this virus and do not know it and do not take it seriously.”

The mayor then cited a passage from the Bible.

“Don’t be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves,” he said, quoting Philippians 2:3. “So I’m asking folks to forget false pride and ego, and let’s work together to beat this virus.

“One easy way we can do it is to wear a mask,” said Thrower, who wore a face covering throughout Monday night’s meeting.

Aside from wearing masks, Thrower also said employees should be required to frequently sanitize their hands and practice social distancing — and that customers should be encouraged to do the same. The mayor also suggested that business owners and managers be tested for the virus at the Grady County Health Department, which is conducting specimen collection tests every Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon.

“Our Health Department is very efficient with this process,” Thrower said.

Appointments can be made by calling (229) 352-6567 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays or between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturdays. Patients can also visit and select “Take the Screening Questionnaire” to begin the application process.

Visit to see the full testing schedule for all southwest Georgia counties.

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