TIFTON — The Tifton City Council and the Tift County Board of Commissioners have both declared a local state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Mar. 20.

The city council held an emergency special called meeting via teleconference on Mar. 20. The county commission approved declaring a local public health state of emergency the same day.

Tifton Mayor Julie Smith and council members Jack Folk, M. Jay Hall and Johnny Terrell voted to approve the resolution.

The state of emergency follows the announcement of a confirmed COVID-19 case in Tift County earlier today.

Smith said that while they don’t yet know what measures the city will be taking to curb the transmission of COVID-19, having a local state of emergency declared will expedite the city’s ability to put protective measures in place.

“The City of Tifton has taken multiple measures to reduce the risk of the community transmission,” Smith said. “Additional measures will likely be required in the coming days and weeks to address the fluid situation. Such measures will likely need to be executed quickly and free of the usual formalities and procedures required for city action.”

The resolution allows the council and any city boards, committees or agencies to meet via teleconference; gives the city manager the authority to "take such actions deemed necessary or appropriate for the public health and safety of the citizens of the City of Tifton" with approval from the mayor; allows restaurants licensed for on-site beer and wine consumption to sell unopened bottles for take-out consumption; extends the due date and payment of alcohol excise taxes until June 30; suspends the bid and competitive portions of the city's purchasing policies; established the chain of authority within city management. Should City Manager Pete Pyrzenski be unable to perform his duties, Interim Deputy City Manager Bobby Bennett will assume those duties, with IT Manager Jonathan Taylor next in line.

City officials will hold a 5 p.m. press conference in conjunction with Tift Regional Medical Center.

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