Eyewitness News at 6, 1-11-13

6:57 PM, Jan 11, 2013   |    comments
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From the office breakroom...to your own desk...we're looking at where the flu lives.

That as the Center for Disease Control releases new numbers for our state.

Good evening, and thanks for joining us. I'm Leah Johnson.

And I'm Frank Malloy.

The latest CDC report shows we may finally be turning a corner in this year's hard-hitting flu season.



While flu activity remains high across the U.S.... it may be waning in some of the hardest hit areas.

here in Georgia... The CDC says... this is one of the worst bouts with flu germs in about a decade... and is officially calling it an epidemic.

There have been about 330 hospitalizations in the state so far.

There have also been two adult deaths.

And... this is an early flu season according to the CDC and the North Central Health District.

It's about five weeks ahead of previous years.

We know that the flu is contagious... and that it can project as far away as six feet from a sick person.

But even if you steer clear of that coughing, sneezing, hacking coworker... that doesn't mean you're in the clear.

We brought in Denise Leaptrot.

It's her job to make sure nurses and staff at Coliseum Medical Center protect themselves from germs and other airborne viruses.

She showed 13WMAZ's Tom George just how close the germs are to all of us.

< So with cold and flu season upon us, you hear people coughing and wheezing and often our office can be the biggest culprit for people getting sick, and we here at 13WMAZ aren't immune ourselves, so we're joined by Denise Leaptrot. She is the Infection Control Specialist at Coliseum and she's here to bring her sanitizer and the white glove here to our newsroom to find out to find out how we're stacking up. You ready to get to it .. Let's do it! >

< Should we check out the fridge? Oh, I don't know ... Babble about fridge...>

Next stop ... The breakroom sink...

< My first thought would be that somebody needs to be sure that this area is cleaned at least on a daily basis. In a office setting, nobody really thinks that's part of their job so nobody does it.>

<some of us, we're not morning people, we have to have our coffee, so over there, this coffee handle, is that a cause for concern? Anything that your hands touch if your hands are not clean will become contaminated ... So 48 hours of you picking up the creamer and sugar and drinking coffee in a newsroom offers a significant amount of repeated exposure >

And all that was BEFORE we got to the newsroom...

<So what are you seeing? You know it's a pretty large space, but again, if you've got anybody who's not feeling well, and they're coughing, you're going to get a pretty heavy germ load. .. Most of the colds and flus are going to fall out somewhere around 3 to 6 feet of the infected person. >

And what's at your cubicle might not be helping.

<ok, so if you look at your monitor, look at all that dust. What's in the air falls out, and that's the risk .. Keyboards, plastic, they're gonna hold flu virsuses.. >

And it looks like my desk was no exception...

So how often do you clean up your keyboard? Sometimes I just go like this .. Well you're looking reasonably healthy for now ... For now .. And we want to keep it that way ...

So she had some advice...

<this is just an alcohol and you can clean the keyboard .. By just wiping it like this... And that is definitely holding some germs along with the dirt...>

And her last stops ... Two reporter essentials --- the news truck...

< If you don't cover your mouth, where are your germs going to go if you're driving and you're coughing .. .Right on the steering wheel>

...And our iPhones...

< They make themselves sick by repeated sick by repeated exposure to the same stuff .. So clean your phone! >

So with the tour over, it was report card time...

< I'll give you a solid C, as my daughter would say ... That's better than a C minus or a D...>

Tom George, 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.

In our 13WMAZ Web poll today...we asked, do you go to work when you're sick?

77 percent of you say yes!

23 percent say no.

To vote now in that question... Visit 13WMAZ.com.

Look for the question on the right side of the homepage.

So, assuming you work with some of that 77 percent... keeping your surroundings clean can help you stay well, but doctors say the absolute best way to avoid getting sick is a flu shot.

But we know a lot of people might hesitate to roll up their sleeve.

So...Keith Whitney, from our sister station WXIA, set out to stick a needle in some of the biggest flu shot myths.

<By now.. Most of us should know.. That you can't get the flu from the flu shot... (The virus used is dead).

But can you get the flu.. "after" you get the flu shot... Well.. The chances are slim.. But yes you can.. So that's true...

"the elderly the infirm the people with weakened immune systems are less likely to get protected by the vaccine..."


so if you're healthy.. You don't really need the shot...

This is false...

Because actually.. The shot works best in healthy people.. Who often spread it to those more vulnerable.

"they're the people who get the flu and transmit it to the person for whom the vaccine is not working..."


kids don't need to be vaccinated.

That used to be true.. Now it's false.. Except for babies under 6-months.

"(it's really important that the kids get the vaccine because the kids are one of the major ways the virus gets spread so) immunizing kids is hugely important to keep the spread of the virus down....."


the flu vaccines are all the same... This is both True and false...

While all The vaccines use the same three viral components...

The shot uses dead virus...>

the nasal mist uses live virus.

"a nasal spray that actually does have a live virus in it one that's weakened that you can give to younger healthy people so those vaccines are different."


so how do they decide what to put in the flu shot?

Aren't they just guessing?


While the flu can be unpredictable.. It can also be predictable.

And there's a lot of science that goes into

"so based on what's going on in other parts of the world.. What's happening at the end of our flu season here the experts figure out what three strains of flu to put in the vaccine."

Health experts say, it's also not too late to get vaccinated.

Your doctors office, some pharmacies, and your local health department can help you with that.

A man...already charged with burglary...now faces charges of murder ...in a case dating back to 2010.

He is David Allen Steward... 38 years old, from Lizella...

And the Bibb County Sheriff's office says he stabbed William Lord to death in his home more than two years ago.

Tonight, David Steward remains in the Bibb County L-E-C

The Sheriff's Department asks anyone with information to call (478) 621-5650.

Again, that's 478-621-5650.

Some mental health services in central Georgia say they have less money ...And more patients than ever.

So 13WMAZ's Katelyn Heck went out in the field today to find out how caseworkers are juggling the load...on a tight budget.

A few years ago... Lamonte Havis lived on the streets... while his mind lived somewhere else.

<I was thinking and constantly living every day thinking about going somewhere and being a millionaire or something, and had more than millions, and a mansion waiting for me or something like that>

Now... Havis says he has something he can't put a price on... He has help.

He's one of 75 Bibb County patients served by River Edge's Assertive Community Treatment team... funded by the state.

It's a group of medical professionals who provide home care to the mentally ill.

<and transportation back and forth to stores, to the doctors>

There are 22 of the so-called ACT teams throughout the state... For each team, it costs 700-thousand dollars a year to serve patients... That includes staff salaries and everything else.

But River Edge Director Shannon Harvey says they still need more.

<georgia ranks, depending on which study you read, 46th or 47th in funding for mental health services, but we rank 9th in population. So, though we served thousands upon thousands of people last year, there are thousands and thousands more who need services who struggle to get them because resources are limited.>

Even though there's less money...the mission every day is still the same. But program directors tell us...they could visit even more patients...if they just had the financial backing.

And it's not just the ACT Program feeling the crunch.

In 2011... The state cut all funding for the central Georgia chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.... A setback of over 150-thousand a year.

<so we've been struggling to offer all the services we've been offering>

They rely heavily on donations... Like the 300-thousand given by someone in Warner Robins to build this 12-person group home.

They will also have a room for things like life-skill classes.

Director Jeane Bauer says it's a big help for her organization... But just a small step to treating the thousands of central Georgians like Havis.

Katelyn Heck 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.

Bauer hopes to open the new group home by the end of the month.

She says she's also been working with local legislators to get back some of her state funding.

After a surprise decision...by a Fulton County judge...the dispute over a swath of land between Monroe and Bibb continues.

Judge Kelly Amanda Lee ruled in a favor of Monroe...shifting the border south...to include dozens of homes that are in Bibb County now.


But if the ruling is upheld...what does that mean for those people's property taxes.

Austin Lewis breaks it down for you, Austin?

<We crunched the numbers.. and found that those property owners would pay less if they end up crossing the county line into Monroe.

Here is how we broke it down..


According to census data.. the median home value for both Bibb and Monroe counties is a market value of $132,450.

In both counties.. you are taxed on 40% of the value of your home, that's taxable value.

If we take that average home value - $132,450 - you would pay $1,737.59 in taxes in Bibb County.

In Monroe, that same house it would be about $1,307.18 in taxes.

That's a difference of about 8 mills or $430.31 a year...or $35.87 a month.

I talked to Mindy Attaway...a local realtor off Bass Road...who says if the change goes through...it could add to the popularity of that area.

<Mindy Attaway: Whenever you have that's just in the Monroe County line, but you are going to pay these lesser taxes you still have the easy access to the North Macon amenties like River Crossing and shopping and restaurants and all that, it's a really desirable area to be in especailly if your taxes are going to be on average a 1,000 dollars less than they would be if you were in the city of Macon or Bibb County>

She also says in her experience property taxes play a role when people are looking to buy a home.

Austin Lewis 13WMAZ eyewitness news. >

We could not calculate how this could effect these homeowners under a consolidated Macon and Bibb County...because those tax rates haven't been set yet.

The Judge's official order could come down next week.

Wanted: Bibb County student with a clear vision for their future and serious goals for success.

MTV Producers for the show "MADE" interviewed students this week...

including this bunch at the Hutchings Career Center. There they are with teacher John Bernard Roberts on the right.

The show focuses on a student and something he or she is working hard to accomplish, be it a career goal, something academic, or personal.

Interviews wrapped up today.

Bibb schools spokeswoman Josephine Bennett says students should learn in about 3 weeks whether they've been chosen.

Thanks for joining us. We'll be back tonight at 11.

But remember... The news is always on at 13WMAZ.com.

The evening news is up next.

Have a safe night everyone.


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