Candidate forum linked to COVID-19 spike in Hartford; city hall closed


HARTFORD, Ala. (WDHN) — A campaign event on July 23 has been linked to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the city of Hartford.

Eric Johnson, director of the Geneva County Emergency Management Agency, said seven new cases have been associated with the event, which was a candidate forum held by the Hartford Chamber of Commerce at Ketchem’s Restaurant. The EMA provided masks at this event.

The restaurant made a statement on the situation.

The Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce held a meet and greet for all the candidates running for city Council and the Mayor of Hartford at Ketchem’s Restaurant on July 23. As many of you are aware there have been several people who were in attendance at the meeting that has tested positive for Corona Virus. We have taken cleaning precautions and will continue to do so. Jason and I felt it was our responsibility to inform everyone that we are aware and are making adjustments as needed. If anyone that is employed with Ketchem’s and has a family member that has tested positive then they will not be back at work for 14 days. I had someone ask me if we were going to close. We are not going to close because at some point EVERYONE is going to come in contact with the virus. We however realize it will effect our business and that’s okay. We will be prepared for more to go orders along with curbside. I would like for everyone to respect my page and not leave negative comments. I have always welcomed negative and positive feedback from our customers and this is not an exception. Please feel free to call or text me at 334-798-9274 with any suggestions or concerns you may have. This virus is here to stay and at some point we will all come in contact with it and probably test positive for the virus. Jason and I were at the meeting and we have no symptoms. We are actually out of town until Wednesday.

Ketchem’s Restaurant, Catering and Venue

Since the spike, the Hartford City Hall and several businesses have closed down or adjusted their practices.

The following have announced complete or partial closures:

  • Hartford City Hall
  • Dalton Pharmacy of Hartford (Drive-through is still open)
  • First National Bank of Hartford’s lobby (Drive-through and ATMs still operational)
  • McGregor – McKinney Public Library (Curbside service still available via phone.)

The Geneva County Health Department will also be holding a drive-through testing site at James S. Radford Recreation Park on 238 Rec Park Road this Thursday. It will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Appointments are not required, but you must meet the following criteria:

  • Persons with symptoms
  • Healthcare facility workers, workers in congregate living settings, and first responders with symptoms
  • Persons without symptoms who have underlying medical conditions or disability placing them at a higher risk of complications or screening of other asymptomatic individuals based on a case-by-case review and approval by the state health department or local health jurisdiction

Symptoms of COVID-19 now include

  • Cough or shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Loss of taste or smell.

Geneva County has 194 total confirmed cases and one probable death that is being looked into.

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