Healthy people, families, and communities.



GEMA Masthead

Severe Weather Preparedness Week Starts Feb. 3


(ATLANTA) – Governor Brian Kemp, in coordination with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) and the National Weather Service (NWS), issued a proclamation calling on Georgians to educate themselves and understand the threats of severe weather during Severe Weather Preparedness Week, which will take place from Feb. 3 to Feb. 7.

Spring is traditionally a period where the threat of high winds, hail and lightning from tornados and severe thunderstorms greatly increases. Severe Weather Preparedness Week serves as a reminder to review emergency procedures and prepare for weather-related hazards.

  • Monday, Feb. 3Family Preparedness/NOAA Weather Radio Day: Purchase a life-saving NOAA Weather Radio and choose an out-of-state friend as a “check-in” contact to call if your family gets separated.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 4 – Thunderstorm Safety: Learn the difference between a thunderstorm watch and a thunderstorm warning.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 5 – Tornado Safety (and PrepareAthon! drill for tornado safety at 9 a.m.): Determine in advance where you will take shelter in case of a tornado warning.
  • Thursday, Feb. 6 – Lightning Safety: Learn the 30/30 rule. If after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder, go indoors. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Friday, Feb. 7 – Flood Safety: Copy important documents, seal them in a watertight container and add them to your Ready kit.


Severe weather preparedness week isn’t just for individuals and their families. GEMA/HS highly encourages schools, businesses and other organizations to use this as an opportunity to evaluate their preparedness for a severe weather event.

For more resources on how you can prepare your home, school or business for severe weather emergencies and other disasters, visit and follow @GeorgiaEMA on Twitter for preparedness tips and emergency information.

As part of the Office of the Governor, GEMA/HS works with local, state and federal governments, in partnership with the private sector and faith-based community, to protect life and property against man-made and natural emergencies. In addition, GEMA/HS employees are on 24-hour call statewide to assist local authorities when disaster strikes. GEMA/HS’s “Ready Georgia” campaign helps Georgians prepare for disasters. Visit  for more information.



For information about Emergency Preparedness at the North Georgia Health District, click HERE.

CarSeat Convertible Seat Rearfacing tot

 Buckle Up Right, Every Trip, Every Time


North GeorgiaAll six county health departments in the North Georgia Health District were awarded the 2020 Car Seat Mini-Grant by the Georgia Department of Public Health, Injury Prevention Program.

Through the Mini-Grant, the county health departments and collaborating partners work together to provide car seats and education to financially eligible families in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield counties.

This program is funded by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to help ensure Georgia’s children are safe while riding in motor vehicles.

And it works! Since 2007, the education, car seats and booster seats provided through the Mini-Grant prevented serious injury or death and saved over 300 Georgia children who were involved in crashes.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car seats reduce fatal injuries by 71 percent among infants and by 54 percent among children ages 1 to 4 years in passenger cars. Car seats offer the best protection for children in the event of a crash, and they are most effective when installed and used correctly. However, nearly three out of every four car seats are not used properly, placing children at unnecessary risk.

The Car Seat Mini-Grant provides grant recipients the training and resources needed to help protect children from serious injuries or death in motor vehicle crashes.

In Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield counties, health departments and collaborating partners, such as law enforcement, EMA, EMS, fire departments and other organizations, educate parents and caregivers on how to properly install and use car seats, offer car seat inspections and provide car seats and booster seats to financially eligible families.

Through the Car Seat Mini-Grant, agencies supporting more than 120 counties are working to keep Georgia’s children safe. These programs help families get their children buckled up right, every trip, every time.

For more information about the car seat program at county health departments in North Georgia or to contact the health departments, click the LOCATIONS tab near the top of this page.

For information regarding other Georgia counties involved in the program, please contact the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Child Occupant Safety Project via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 404-463-1487.

DPH masthead

UPDATE: 2/26/2020



February 26, 2020

DPH Preparations for Potential Spread of COVID-19

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is working closely with the CDC, and state partners to prepare for a potential outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S., including Georgia. The goal is to quickly identify cases of COVID-19 and take the appropriate public health action to reduce its spread and protect the general public. It is important to note that at this time, the overall risk of COVID-19 to the general public remains low.

“We urge Georgians to prepare for hurricanes or flooding or take measures to prevent flu, so preparing for an outbreak of COVID-19 is no different,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., DPH commissioner. “DPH is working to make sure our health systems, first responders and county health departments have the resources they need to respond to a COVID-19 outbreak.”


DPH already has a detailed pandemic flu plan that was developed in partnership with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the Georgia Department of Education and other state agencies, and will be adapted for a COVID-19 outbreak in the state. DPH has responded to other serious disease outbreaks, including Ebola and Zika virus and each instance has provided new insight and guidance and highlighted the need to be as prepared as we can be.


DPH Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) is providing CDC information and guidance about COVID-19 to all health care and hospital facilities throughout Georgia, and holding weekly calls with the entire public health and hospital/health care community to update information and answer questions.


DPH epidemiologists are on-call 24/7 to help health care providers evaluate individuals presenting with symptoms of COVID-19 to ensure that possible cases are managed safely, support laboratory testing and implement recommendations from the CDC. In the event of COVID-19 in Georgia, epidemiologists would also be monitoring outbreaks and recommending control strategies, including guidance regarding testing and isolation.


Should it become necessary, DPH may recommend appropriate community mitigation measures for affected communities, such as temporary closure of child care facilities and schools/colleges and universities, school and workplace social distancing measures, and postponement or cancellation of mass gatherings. Additionally, businesses should consider ways to implement strategies to reduce the impact of a potential COVID-19 outbreak on their workforce, including teleworking and cross-training employees on essential job functions.



The same measures that are urged to prevent the spread of any respiratory virus are increasingly important for all Georgians:


    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.


The best prevention against the flu is vaccination. Flu is still widespread and active in Georgia - it’s not too late to get a flu shot.


Passenger screening at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport is ongoing. This is to identify people coming from China who may have been exposed to and are at risk of developing COVID-19, and to provide appropriate assessment and monitoring to protect the general public.


COVID-19 is rapidly evolving and guidance is subject to change. The preparations currently underway in Georgia are based on the best scientific information we have from the CDC. DPH will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation, and work with state partners and health care communities to incorporate the most up to date guidance in our planning and preparation efforts.


DPH will continue to update Georgians through our website, our Facebook page and our Twitter account. It is important to remember that the most accurate and timely information regarding this outbreak is available through DPH or the CDC’s website



UPDATE: 2/11/2020



Feb.11, 2020

Travelers Returning to Georgia from China Self-Monitoring for

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptoms

ATLANTA – Under the supervision of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), about 200 individuals who have recently returned from China are self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). These travelers arrived in the U.S. from mainland China outside Hubei Province with no known high-risk exposure. These individuals are asymptomatic (no symptoms) and are self-isolating at home.

DPH receives a list every day from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with the names of Georgia travelers coming from China. DPH epidemiologists contact the individuals by phone to establish a plan for self-monitoring and provide instructions on how to contact DPH before seeking health care if they develop fever, cough or shortness of breath.

There are no Georgia travelers who have returned from Wuhan or Hubei Province requiring quarantine.

To slow the potential spread of COVID-19 to the United States, on January 31, President Trump issued a federal proclamation that included a travel ban for non-U.S. citizens entering the country from China and funneling flights from China to one of 11 airports in the U.S., including Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.

In addition, the proclamation requires mandatory 14-day quarantine for returning travelers who have been in the Hubei Province (high risk) and 14 days of supervised self-monitoring for returning travelers from anywhere else in China (medium risk).

The CDC says the overall risk of coronavirus to the general public is low, but the best way to prevent infection of any respiratory virus is:


    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.


Flu is still widespread and active in Georgia. The best prevention against the flu is vaccination – it’s not too late to get a flu shot.

For more information about coronavirus, log on to

or Guidance for travelers can be found at



UPDATE: 1/27/2020


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                 

Jan. 27, 2020                                                                                             


DPH Release of Coronavirus Information

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Public Health, in consultation with the CDC, is evaluating patient information received from healthcare providers about potential cases of coronavirus. To date, DPH has not confirmed any cases of coronavirus in Georgia, however the situation could change as additional patients are evaluated.

DPH will not provide information about the number of patients being tested for coronavirus, but will release limited information about confirmed cases of coronavirus in Georgia. This is a fluid situation where numbers will change and may not reflect the level of risk to the general public, which at this time remains low.

Advice to the general public is the same as every cold and flu season. Wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, and stay away from people who are sick. If you’ve traveled from Wuhan City, China into the U.S. and you have symptoms of coronavirus (runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, a general feeling of being unwell), seek advice from your health care provider. If you don’t have a health care provider, contact your local health department.



UPDATE: 1/24/2020


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                 

Jan. 24, 2020                                                                                     

DPH Working to Identify and Prevent Spread of Coronavirus in Georgia

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is closely monitoring the outbreak of  2019-nCoV (coronavirus) occurring in China and regularly coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. DPH has not confirmed any novel (new) coronavirus cases to date, however the situation could change.

DPH is advising healthcare providers statewide to be alert for patients who have traveled from Wuhan, China and present with fever and respiratory symptoms. The Department sent out a detailed medical advisory to healthcare providers on reporting, testing, specimen collection and healthcare infection control recommendations for potential coronavirus cases. Healthcare providers who suspect 2019-nCoV infection in a patient should report them immediately to DPH by calling 1-866-PUB-HLTH (1-866-782-4584).

To detect possible cases of coronavirus infection early and prevent further spread, the United States began actively screening incoming travelers from Wuhan at five select airports, including Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. DPH has protocols for transport, evaluation and testing of potential coronavirus patients, and will work with the airport quarantine station to facilitate and coordinate referrals.

This outbreak of coronavirus began in Wuhan, China in December 2019 and continues to spread. The outbreak now includes hundreds of confirmed infections and a growing number of deaths in several countries. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. The beginning of this outbreak has been linked to a large seafood and animal market in Wuhan. A growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to the animal markets and many healthcare workers have become infected, indicating person to person spread is occurring.

Because this is a novel coronavirus, we do not know everything about it yet. Based on patients with confirmed coronavirus, symptoms include fever and signs of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); case-patients also develop pneumonia. The CDC says symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after exposure. There is currently no specific antiviral treatment for 2019-nCoV infection or vaccine to prevent coronavirus infection.

Currently there are two confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States (Illinois and Washington) and more cases are expected. The CDC says the overall risk of coronavirus to the general public is low, but the best way to prevent infection of any respiratory virus is:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

For more information about coronavirus, log on to Guidance for travelers can be found at


See Attached Press Release in PDF


About the Georgia Department of Public Health

The Georgia Department of Public Health is the lead agency in preventing disease, injury and disability; promoting health and well-being; and preparing for and responding to disasters from a health perspective. For more information about DPH, visit

DPH Letterbottom image

Published on the World Health Organization (WHO) website on December 26, 2019 
Whatever your New Year’s Resolution, a healthy and balanced diet will provide many benefits into 2020 and beyond. What we eat and drink can affect our body’s ability to fight infections, as well as how likely we are to develop health problems later in life, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and different types of cancer. 
The exact ingredients of a healthy diet will depend on different factors like how old and how active we are, as well as the kinds of foods that are available in the communities where we live. But across cultures, there are some common food tips for helping us lead healthier, longer lives.

Top 5 tipsempty plate


Eat a variety of food

Balanced diet
Our bodies are incredibly complex, and (with the exception of breast milk for babies) no single food contains all the nutrients we need for them to work at their best. Our diets must therefore contain a wide variety of fresh and nutritious foods to keep us going strong.

Some tips to ensure a balanced diet:
    • In your daily diet, aim to eat a mix of staple foods such as wheat, maize, rice and potatoes with legumes like lentils and beans, plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and foods from animal sources (e.g. meat, fish, eggs and milk).
    • Choose wholegrain foods like unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat and brown rice when you can; they are rich in valuable fibre and can help you feel full for longer.
    • For snacks, choose raw vegetables, unsalted nuts and fresh fruit, rather than foods that are high in sugars, fats or salt.

Cut back on salt


Too much salt can raise blood pressure, which is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Most people around the world eat too much salt: on average, we consume double the WHO recommended limit of 5 grams (equivalent to a teaspoon) a day. 
Even if we don’t add extra salt in our food, we should be aware that it is commonly put in processed foods or drinks, and often in high amounts.

Some tips to reduce your salt intake:
    • When cooking and preparing foods, use salt sparingly and reduce use of salty sauces and condiments (like soy sauce, stock or fish sauce).
    • Avoid snacks that are high in salt, and try and choose fresh healthy snacks over processed foods.
    • When using canned or dried vegetables, nuts and fruit, choose varieties without added salt and sugars.
    • Remove salt and salty condiments from the table and try and avoid adding them out of habit; our tastebuds can quickly adjust and once they do, you are likely to enjoy food with less salt, but more flavor!
    • Check the labels on food and go for products with lower sodium content.


Reduce use of certain fats and oil

Trans fat

We all need some fat in our diet, but eating too much – especially the wrong kinds - increases risks of obesity, heart disease and stroke.  Industrially-produced trans fats are the most hazardous for health. A diet high in this kind of fat has been found to raise risk of heart disease by nearly 30%.

Video: Zero trans fat: Eat less fat … live a healthier life!
WHO Zero Trans Fat Video image
 Some tips to reduce fat consumption:
    • Replace butter, lard and ghee with healthier oils such as soybean, canola (rapeseed), corn, safflower and sunflower.
    • Choose white meat like poultry and fish which are generally lower in fats than red meat, trim meat of visible fat and limit the consumption of processed meats.
    • Try steaming or boiling instead of frying food when cooking.
    • Check labels and always avoid all processed, fast and fried foods that contain industrially-produced trans fat. It is often found in margarine and ghee, as well as pre-packaged snacks, fast, baked and fried foods.


Limit sugar intake


Too much sugar is not only bad for our teeth, but increases the risk of unhealthy weight gain and obesity, which can lead to serious, chronic health problems.

As with salt, it’s important to take note of the amount of “hidden” sugars that can be in processed food and drinks. For example, a single can of soda can contain up to 10 teaspoons of added sugar!

Some tips to reduce sugar intake:

    • Limit intake of sweets and sugary drinks such as fizzy drinks, fruit juices and juice drinks, liquid and powder concentrates, flavoured water, energy and sports drinks, ready-to-drink tea and coffee and flavoured milk drinks.
    • Choose healthy fresh snacks rather than processed foods.
    • Avoid giving sugary foods to children. Salt and sugars should not be added to complementary foods give to children under 2 years of age, and should be limited beyond that age.

Avoid hazardous and harmful alcohol use

Friends celebration

Alcohol is not a part of a healthy diet, but in many cultures celebrations and social gatherings are associated with heavy alcohol consumption. Overall, drinking too much, or too often, increases your immediate risk of injury, as well as causing longer-term effects like liver damage, cancer, heart disease and mental illness.

WHO advises that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption; and for many people even low levels of alcohol use can still be associated with significant health risks .

    • Remember, less alcohol consumption is always better for health and it is perfectly OK not to drink.
    • You should not drink alcohol at all if you are: pregnant or breastfeeding; driving, operating machinery or undertaking other activities that involve related risks; you have health problems which may be made worse by alcohol; you are taking medicines which directly interact with alcohol; or you have difficulties with controlling your drinking.
    • If you think your or someone you love may have problems with alcohol or other psychoactive substances, don’t be afraid to reach out for help from your health worker or a specialist drug and alcohol service. WHO has also developed a self-help guide to provide guidance to people looking to cut back or stop use.

Watch: Facebook live on healthy diets

Facebook live healthy diets


Want to read more?

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month 2020 web

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and the North Georgia Health District, including your county health department in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens or Whitfield County, wants you to know that there’s a lot you can do to prevent cervical cancer. Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity, and it causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected.

The good news?Cervical Cancer prevention2

    • The HPV vaccine (shot) can prevent HPV.
    • Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests and follow-up care.


In honor of National Cervical Health Awareness Month, the North Georgia Health District encourages:

    • Women to start getting regular cervical cancer screenings at age 21
    • Parents to make sure pre-teens get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12


Teens and young adults also need to get the HPV vaccine if they didn’t get it as pre-teens. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.

Thanks to the health care reform law, you and your family members may be able to get these services at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to learn more.

Taking small steps can help keep you safe and healthy. Click above on the name of your county health department and connect today to arrange for your cervical cancer screening and/or to get the HPC vaccine for your pre-teen!

For more information about Cervical Cancer Screening from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), please go to   What Should I Know About Screening?