Report businesses for COVID-19 violations, urges Macon-Bibb Board of Health  

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Liz Fabian

The Macon-Bibb County Board of Health urges everyone to report violations of COVID-19 guidelines to curtail the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Local union president Alexander Perkins fears hundreds of factory workers are in danger of catching and spreading COVID-19.

Perkins, who heads the United Steelworkers Local 572, warned the Macon-Bibb County Board of Health that some manufacturers are not following Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive orders to curtail the spread of coronavirus.

“Take a look at reckless companies, like Kumho,” Perkins said at the start of Monday’s teleconference. “These are trying times and we want to do all we can to protect people.”

Perkins cited recent reports that anti-bacterial soap is not available at the tire manufacturing plant in the south Bibb County.

The governor’s order mandates employee screening, social distancing, enhanced sanitation and disinfecting, among other things.

Attempts were unsuccessful to reach a Kumho representative by phone or leave a voicemail in the automated answering system that would not enable connecting to an operator.

Kumho executives later disputed Perkins’ claims by inviting the Center for Collaborative Journalism to tour the plant in south Macon-Bibb County.

OSHA designated Kumho a “severe violator” last year after 22 other safety and health violations, Perkins noted.

Dr. Renee Haynes, district health director for the North Central Health District that includes Macon-Bibb, told the board local NCHD regulators only have jurisdiction over businesses they typically regulate, such as restaurants, not industries.

The governor’s Coronavirus Task Force is coordinating the response to other complaints and could call in the Department of Public Safety, which includes the Georgia State Patrol.

Board members worry that workers and other people in general are getting too relaxed about the deadly virus.

“I’ve brought to the attention of managers of restaurants that masks are under the chin. I don’t think people are taking it seriously anymore,” board member Ethel Cullinan said. “We should be doing everything we can do to draw attention that it’s more important than ever that these procedures stay in place. The casual attitude some businesses and companies have taken is really deplorable.”

Commissioner Elaine Lucas, who represents Macon-Bibb County on the board, said she hears a lot from workers.

“They don’t feel secure in knowing what these companies are doing on their behalf to ensure their safety,” Lucas said. “All they know is they are required to go to work.”

The board of health approved a resolution to inform the public how to report violations and encourages them to do so.

The board called for all businesses, establishments, non-profits and organization “to observe strictly the requirements of Executive Order 06.11.20.01 and where practicable, to institute all recommended, permissive precautions for the health, safety and wellness of their employees, volunteers, customers and other visitors and for the greater protection of public health.” They implore all citizens to report any suspected violations.

Violations can be reported by calling toll-free 844-442-2681 or filing an online complaint at https://gov.georgia.gov/contact-us/constituent-services.

The governor’s order to shelter-in-place extends until June 30 for individuals with underlying health conditions that put them most at risk.

The order states that after at least two citations, law enforcement can close any business or organization that is not in compliance, but reasonable notice of the violation must be given.

“A lot of people are taking this thing as if it’s over. People walking around with no mask,” Lucas said. “A lot of folks are acting as if it’s over and it most certainly is not.”

Contact Civic Reporting Senior Fellow Liz Fabian at 478-301-2976 or [email protected]