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Coronavirus real-time updates: March 18, 2020

We're providing facts, not fear. Find updates on the coronavirus outbreak impacting Georgia for Wednesday, March 18.

For the latest updates on coronavirus in Georgia, visit this link for March 19: https://bit.ly/3deiBDt 

Below is an archive.

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At 11Alive News, our coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in facts, not fear.

Have a question? Text it to us at 404-873-9114.

State and federal officials with the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are continually monitoring the spread of the virus. They are also working hand-in-hand with the World Health Organization to track the spread around the world and to stop it.

We will continue to track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information.

Key facts:

Credit: WXIA
Confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia as of March 18, 2020.

 

Wednesday, March 18

Dunwoody halts dine-in eating citywide

The city of Dunwoody has decided to restrict dine-in eating at all restaurants in the city after a unanimous vote by the city council.

In an emergency ordinance, the city advises establishments to cease dine-in services. However, enforcement won't begin until March 20 at 9 p.m. to allow each business time to prepare.

“This is an extraordinary measure, but these are extraordinary times,” said Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch. “I empathize with restaurant owners. This is crushing to me. But we are in the middle of a public health crisis. We need to encourage people to stay home and discourage them from gathering.”

The emergency ordinance still allows bars, restaurants and other businesses that sell food or beverages to offer delivery or takeout instead.

Establishments that can sell beer or wine on-premises will be allowed to sell unopened beer and wine for takeout while the ordinance is in effect.

State senator from Alpharetta says he has coronavirus

Just hours after Lieutenant Governor Jeoff Duncan and members of the Georgia state senate announced they were going into self-quarantine following contact with a state senator who tested positive, a state senator has stepped forward saying he has coronavirus.

State Senator Brandon Beach of Alpharetta announced on Wednesday evening that he would be in self-quarantine for the next 14 days. Beach was last at the Capitol during Monday's special session.

"After experiencing a fever and cough, I sought medical attention last week," Beach said. "The diagnosis I was given was not coronavirus, but I did get tested for it on Saturday."

He said that with medication, he felt better by Monday and thought he "was clear."

"Today, however, my test came back positive," he said.

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan self-quarantine as precaution

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan has announced he will self-quarantine after a member of the Georgia State Senate tested positive for COVID-19.

Duncan said that he was told to self-quarantine for the next 14 days because he may have had contact with the senator.

"I rest easy knowing that suspending the 2020 session was the right call," he wrote. "We want to protect our members, their families and the individuals they come in contact with daily."

His letter added that "these are difficult times and there is a lot of uncertainty" but that he is "proud of Georgia's response to COVID-19."

I encourage all of us to continue to heed the warnings of Gov. Brian Kemp and President Donald Trump's administration. 

Minutes later, State Senator Renee Unterman announced that she would be taking similar action while wishing the unnamed state legislator in question a speedy recovery.

4th death from coronavirus confirmed in Georgia

A fourth person has died from coronavirus in Georgia, authorities announced late Wednesday. 

Emory Healthcare announced that one of its patients who had a confirmed case of COVID-19 died "despite the heroic efforts of our physicians, nurses and care team."

The hospital declined to provide more information on the patient citing confidentiality.

"For this patient's family, this is an incredibly sad day," the hospital said in a statement.

SBA declares statewide disaster, opens small business loan applications

Small businesses in any of Georgia's 159 counties now have the opportunity to apply for an emergency loan following an update from Gov. Brian Kemp.

Kemp announced that Georgia had received a statewide disaster declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The declaration will provide assistance in the form of SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans to small businesses.

Kemp described the declaration as great news for small business owners, allowing them to apply for "much-needed funding to continue operation and pay their employees."

The application is now live and Georgia business owners can go directly to the SBA by visiting www.disasterloan.sba.gov for further information.

Lawrenceville declares state of emergency

The city of Lawrenceville has issued a local state of emergency to help combat the spread of coronavirus in Gwinnett's county seat.

The declaration will allow the city to meet by teleconference, make purchases of emergency provisions, waive certain ordinances and regulations to allow business and allow the city manager, with approval to take other actions in the interest of public health.

The business allowances would permit businesses with a beer or wine license to sell unopened bottles of beer or wine with food purchase, delay the due date for alcohol excise tax payments for restaurants and create a drive-thru or pick-up lanes for restaurants on the downtown square.

The declaration is in effect until April 17.

Forsyth County declares second case of coronavirus

Forsyth County announced on Wednesday that there was a second resident in the county that had caught coronavirus. The county said it is implementing guidelines and recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Simon properties, including Lenox Square, Mall of Georgia to close

Simon properties said that they are closing all of their retail properties, including Malls, Premium Outlets and Mills in the U.S. starting at 7 p.m. today through March 29.

"The health and safety of our shoppers, retailers and employees is of paramount importance and we are taking this step to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities," said David Simon, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Simon.

This includes the Mall of Georgia, Lenox Square, Phipps Plaza, Town Center Cobb, Sugarloaf Mills, North Georgia Premium Outlets and Calhoun Outlet Marketplace. 

City of South Fulton implements curfew

City of South Fulton Mayor William “Bill” Edwards issued a state of emergency on Wednesday, which includes a 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew. 

The curfew requires all residents to be in their homes with exceptions for people going to and from medical facilities, work, responding to emergencies, emergency and public safety personnel, essential city personnel, people traveling through the city to a destination outside the city and/or making deliveries within the city, the resolution said. 

The resolution also prohibits all public gatherings of 10 or more people within the City of South Fulton.

Chick-fil-A in Rome, Georgia closes as 'one or more' employees experience COVID-19 symptoms

Truett’s Chick-fil-A in Rome has temporarily closed "out of an abundance of caution," general manager Greg Major said on Facebook. He said "one or more" restaurant employees experienced symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

No employees at the restaurant have been diagnosed with COVID-19 at this time. 

On Facebook they said: "Thank you for your patience as we navigate this unprecedented situation, and we look forward to serving you again soon!”

Hotel in Marietta to be used as quarantine site

City of Marietta officials confirmed that an old Radisson Hotel off of Parkway Plaza is being leased by the Federal Government. 

A city council member confirmed to 11Alive that the hotel was going to be used as a quarantine site for people who test positive for COVID-19, but don't necessarily need hospitalization. 

A similar area is set up at Hard Labor Creek Park for those whose housing situations may not warrant them to be isolated (children in home, roommates, etc.).

Delta flight capacity to be cut by 70%, nearly 10K employees take unpaid leave

In a letter from Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, he announced a capacity reduction and pullback of 70 percent system-wide "until demand starts to recover." He said that the international operation will be taking the largest reduction with over 80 percent of flying reduced over the next two to three months.

He said roughly 10,000 Delta employees have volunteered to take unpaid leave. Those employees still have access to health and flight benefits while on leave, Bastian said.

State prison employee tests positive

The Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) announced that an employee at one of the 34 state prisons has tested positive for COVID-19, the first confirmed case. They said no inmates have tested positive.

"The GDC is proactively taking all necessary precautions to mitigate any potential spread of the virus, to include continual screening of anyone entering a facility," they said in a news release.

Without releasing the name or prison they worked at, they said the person last reported to work on Thursday, March 12.

Employee in UGA athletics department tests positive

A staff member who works in the athletics department at the University of Georgia has tested positive for COVID-19, the school said in a letter to students. The individual was last on campus on March 6 and he is being treated in a local hospital, they said.

The university said another member of the athletics department who had contact with the individual is under self-quarantine at home with no symptoms at this time.

We do not know if this individual is a coach.

2 more patients die in Georgia

Two more people in Georgia have died after contracting the coronavirus.  Phoebe Putney Health System said the patients were being cared for at Memorial Hospital in Albany.

The victims were a 42-year-old woman and a 69-ear-old woman - both of which died at an Albany hospital and had existing medical conditions in addition to COVID-19.

This brings the state's total to three deaths.

University of West Georgia faculty members tests positive for the virus

A faculty member at the college of education has tested positive, the school said in a note to the campus. Their last day on campus was March 11, according to the school.

Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Georgia

The Georgia Department of Health announced new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. As of Noon, there are 197 confirmed cases of the virus and 1 death reported. This is up from 146 confirmed cases that they announced on Tuesday.

Of the 197 confirmed cases, 49 are in Fulton, 28 in Cobb, 19 in Bartow and 18 in DeKalb. For a breakdown by county, view the 11Alive interactive map.

Of the confirmed cases, 2 percent are between the ages of 0-17, while 43 percent are 18-59 years old, 39 percent are over 60 and 16 percent are unknown. 

Shaky Knees music festival postponed

One of Georgia's major spring music festivals has been postponed until October. Shaky Knees Fest, a 3-day event at Atlanta's Central Park, was originally scheduled for May 1-3, 2020. It is now taking place Oct. 16-18.

Organizers say that headliners The Black Keys, The Strokes and The Smashing Pumpkins are scheduled to perform on the rescheduled dates. More information about the full lineup will be announced soon, they said. 

Visit https://www.shakykneesfestival.com for more information. 

Georgia Dept. of Driver Services suspends road testing

The Georgia Dept. of Driver Services is following the recommendation of public health authorities regarding social distancing and has suspended all road-testing, they announced on Wednesday.

They also said some DDS customer service centers have closed due to workforce shortages. Visit www.dds.georgia.gov for updates.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park closes all buildings

The buildings within the Martin Luther King Historical Park in Atlanta are closed until further notice, the National Parks Service announced on Wednesday. 

This includes the visitor center, Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, fire station #6, King’s birth home, and the Eastern National Bookstore. The outdoor spaces in the park will remain open and visitors are free to walk around the park.

Rural hospitals to receive $5M to 'stabilize' the facilities

The amended 2020 fiscal year budget will contain $5 million directed at struggling rural hospitals, the Georgia Senate press office said in a release on Wednesday.

“In light of the recent flooding at Grady Hospital in Atlanta and the outbreak of COVID-19, it has brought to the forefront the need to have a stable safety net in place for health care,” said Rep. Terry England (R - Auburn). “Our rural hospitals are the backbone of that network even though we do not always think about them that way. These funds and the strike team will help stabilize those facilities in an immediate and long term fashion."

They said the funds would be distributed based on the number of beds.

Georgia ports are open, despite social media post, governor says

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said the ports are open in the state, despite what a viral post on social media says.

"Sadly, misinformation is rampant in times like these. If you see this picture on social media, ignore it. It’s fake," he tweeted. 

University System of Georgia cancels all spring graduation commencements

A letter from Georgia State University's president told students on Wednesday that all spring commencements across the University System of Georgia (USG) were canceled due to coronavirus. 

"...the University System of Georgia has informed USG institutions we will not be conducting graduation ceremonies this spring," GSU president Mark Becker said.

The schools that are a part of the University System of Georgia, which is home to four research universities, include:  Augusta University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, University of Georgia, Georgia Southern University, Kennesaw State University, University of West Georgia, Valdosta State University, Albany State University, Clayton State University, Columbus State University, Fort Valley State University, Georgia College & State University, Georgia Southwestern State University, Middle Georgia State University, Savannah State University, University of North Georgia, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Atlanta Metropolitan State College, College of Coastal Georgia, Dalton State College, East Georgia State College, Georgia Gwinnett College, Georgia Highlands College, Gordon State College and South Georgia State College.

Becker said that they are going to find another way to honor the students at a later date. 

"To our graduating students, the university fully understands how profoundly disappointing this news is for you," Becker said. "I know how meaningful and important a commencement is, and we want to celebrate your achievements in an appropriate fashion. We are committed to finding ways to honor you at a time when large gatherings are once again safe."

Home Depot adjusting store hours, provide additional time off to employees

Atlanta-based Home Depot is joining the list of retailers adjusting hours as consumers adjust their daily lives. 

Starting Thursday, March 19, stores will close daily at 6 p.m., while opening hours will remain unchanged. 

The retail giant also announced that all hourly, full-time associates will get an extra 80 hours of paid sick or personal time, and part-time hourly associates will receive an additional 40 hours -- which can be used anytime from now until the end of the year. 

They added that if an associate is diagnosed with COVID-19 or advised by health or government officials to self-quarantine due to direct exposure, they will continue to be paid during that time.

The Cobb-Douglas Department of Public Health to offer invite-only COVID-19 testing 

The Cobb-Douglas Department of Public Health said they will host coronavirus testing, but there's one catch -- it's invite-only. Police tweeted that it will happen at Jim Miller Park in Marietta on Wednesday. This testing is not open to the public. Officials said this testing is only for people who medical professionals determined could have the virus. Cobb County Police said they will be on scene to handle any traffic or safety issues in the park or on the roadway.

Major Makeup stores to close until further notice

Sephora, Ulta and many other makeup stores are temporarily closing due to the coronavirus. The stores said they will be closed until the end of the month. All orders will be strictly online after March 19 at 6 p.m. for most of the beauty retailers.

At 11Alive, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: 11alive.com/coronavirus-covid-19.

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