Local elected officials attended Joe Diffie event 12 days before he died

Burnie ThompsonUncategorized

Local elected officials attended March 17 event with Joe Diffie

By Burnie Thompson

3-30-20

PANAMA CITY BEACH – At least six local elected officials attended a private men’s event hosted by GAC Contractors March 17 featuring country music artist Joe Diffie. 

Diffie died Sunday of complications from Covid-19. He was hospitalized Thursday and confirmed that he had contracted coronavirus on Friday. 

GAC President Derwin White hosted the monthly event at a property on John Pitts Road that included around 150 attendees. 

GAC employee Andrew Rowell sent an email yesterday to the attendees from a sign-in sheet advising them to see their medical providers if they have any concerns. 

Elected officials at the event include Bay County Commissioners Bill Dozier, Tommy Hamm, and Keith Baker. 

Baker did not attend the County Commission meeting in person on March 20, citing allergy-type symptoms. He participated by phone. 

Other elected officials at the March 17 event include Panama City Beach Councilmen Phil Chester and Paul Casto. 

On March 16 the CDC advised that “all U.S. events of 10+ people should be canceled” to slow the spread of Covid-19. 

White held another private event at his home on March 20 to meet Diffie. 

Earlier that day, the the Bay County Commission and Panama City Beach City Council voted to close the beach citing that people were continuing to gather in groups of 10 or more people.

Diffie wasn’t feeling well March 19 when he visited fans at Spicy Hot Chicken Coop, according to a Facebook post by owner and Country music artist Lorrie Morgan. 

No local elected officials have yet announced a self quarantine or their attendance at these events. 

Mike Jarman, candidate for Panama City Beach City Council Ward 4, also attended the March 17 event. 

** CORRECTION** Bay County Commissioner Phillip Griffitts called me and stated that he was not in attendance at the March 17 event. I’ll take his word for it.

# # # # 

Burnie Thompson is a political commentator whose radio show airs in Pensacola weeknights from 5-7 CST on Talk 103.7 FM / Talk 790 AM (WPNN). His Facebook show focuses on the Panama City Beach City Council. You can email him at burnie@burniethompson.com.