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Live updates: Coronavirus in Georgia

We're providing facts, not fear. Find updates on the coronavirus outbreak impacting Georgia from Sunday, March 15-Tuesday, March 17.

ATLANTA — For the latest updates on coronavirus in Georgia, follow this new story: https://bit.ly/3b3Sltu

Editors note: This story shows updates about the coronavirus concerns impacting Georgia from Sunday, March 15-Tuesday, March 17.

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus and cases are spreading around Georgia since the virus arrived in the United States in February.

At 11Alive News, our coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit 11alive.com/coronavirus-covid-19  for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about Georgia specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. 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.

FACTS NOT FEAR: FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE 

RELATED: Tracking COVID-19: Georgia Coronavirus Interactive map

Key facts:

Credit: WXIA
Confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia as of March 17, 2020.

Tuesday, March 17

City of Woodstock announces some cancellations, closures

The City of Woodstock said they are open for business, but offices are temporarily closed to the public to limit exposure to the COVID-19.  A number of online options for interacting with the city are available and under development.

The March 23 Regular Meeting of Mayor and Council has been canceled along with the April 2 Planning Commission Meeting.

The public can watch council meetings and planning commission meetings online.

The April meeting of Woodstock Downtown Development Authority is canceled and the Georgia Municipal Association has postponed Georgia Cities Week to October 4-10 so the April 20 Town Hall Meeting and April 25 Touch-a-Truck have been postponed.  Get more information on the city's website.

Emory has personnel who has tested positive for COVID-19, spokesperson says

A spokesperson for Emory Healthcare released a statement Tuesday saying they have "personnel who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are self-isolating at home."

The spokesperson said they are adhering to the most stringent protocols for infection control 

"As the volume of patients continues to increase, and as our capacity to test both providers and our community members increases, we will see more positive results," the spokesperson said. 

They are also strongly encouraging the public to adhere to the guidelines for social distancing to help with flattening the curve of the pandemic. 

Fulton County Schools using funds to purchase devices as short-term solution for students

Fulton County Schools said it is purchasing 3,000 additional devices as a short-term solution for students while schools are closed. Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney said he used about $1.5 million in SPLOST funding designated for technology to make the purchases. 

In a special called meeting,  superintendent and board also discussed meal and device distribution that could be executed over the next few days. 

Governor Kemp directed all school systems in Georgia to stay closed through March 31. Dr. Looney said FCS is considering the appropriate time to reopen, whether that is March 31 or later. In consultation with public health officials and considering Spring Break is scheduled for the week of April 6-10, the district is considering the option of remaining closed until Monday, April 13.  

Athens-Clarke County has 3 COVID-19 cases

Athens-Clarke County officials said the Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed a new positive case of coronavirus in the county, bringing the total number of cases there to three. 

None of the individuals were hospitalized, and are all currently self-isolating at home.

"The first two cases over the weekend have no history of travel. Today’s case recently traveled between states," officials said in a news release.

Gwinnett County declares state of emergency

Chairman Charlotte Nash has signed a declaration of local emergency for Gwinnett County.

"The local state of emergency calls for all available resources of the county to be used as reasonably necessary to cope with the impact of #COVID19 on Gwinnett County," the county tweeted.

Atlanta City Council approves several legislative items 

The Atlanta City Council has approved a resolution ratifying Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ executive order to allocate up to $7 million to help those affected by COVID-19. 

The money would come from the general fund. Officials said the money would be for emergency assistance to children’s food programs, senior food programs, homeless preparedness & response activities, and to purchase the technology that would help the city do telework.

A part of the funds would also go towards supporting the city’s small business continuity and assisting the city's partners in the financial industry to provide assistance to employees and hourly-wage earners of businesses engaged with the city. 

The council also approved several resolutions.

“The Mayor and I acted quickly to draft legislation that passed unanimously today suspending rent from March 1st through June 30th for airport concessionaires and car rentals so they may stay open and pay their employees while sales are low do to extremely reduced air travel,” Councilmember Andre Dickens said.

In another resolution, council members are asking the governor "enact a concurring ban on the operation of bars and restaurants at an occupancy in excess of 50 people or such number and time period as the CDC may recommend in the future," according to the news release. 

UGA cancels spring commencement

The University of Georgia has canceled the school's spring commencement.

The school made the announcement on Tuesday, in an update posted on its website dedicated to the coronavirus. The directive applies for both the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies that were scheduled for Friday, May 8.

 "In keeping with directives from the state and federal government to suspend large events and promote social distancing, we have been instructed by the University System of Georgia that all public events for the remainder of the Spring semester have been canceled," the university said.

Read more about it here.  

Sandy Springs issues state of emergency

Sandy Springs City Council approved an ordinance declaring a state of emergency. This is in effect for 60 days.

The city said essential services will continue for residents.

Public hearings and meetings with city-affiliated boards are being postponed. The city council can conduct meetings through teleconference, officials said. 

"The state of emergency allows the city to do what we need to do to meet the needs of the community related to this emergency event. If there is an opportunity for reimbursement later on in this process through state or federal reimbursement, we have set procedures in motion to meet those requirements,” said Sandy Springs City Manager Andrea Surratt.

Braves create $1M relief fund to assist ballpark staff

The Atlanta Braves is creating a special disaster relief fund to help game-day workers and other affected members of the baseball community.

The Braves said they will create the fund through the Atlanta Braves Foundation. 

On Tuesday, it was announced that all 30 MLB teams would donated $1 million to assist ballpark staff impacted by the delayed start of 2020 MLB season due to the COVID19 pandemic.

East Point declares local state of emergency

The East Point City Council voted Monday to declare a local state of emergency. The city has enacted an emergency ordinance for the next 30 days.

“It is important that we implement this state of emergency to not only provide support for the health, welfare and safety of our residents, but to also support the operations of our local businesses which are the backbone of our community,” said Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham.  

The ordinance includes closing parks and playground facilities to the public. Bars, restaurants and other establishments that sell food or provide entertainment are limited to in-person dining, alcohol consumption or entertainment of a maximum of 50 people at one time. Food deliveries are still an option.

The city is not accepting applications or issuing permits for events that involves the gathering of more than the number of people recommended by the CDC. 

Rockdale County Schools extends system closure 

Rockdale County School Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts announced Tuesday that the schools and offices would remain closed until after Spring Break, with a planned reopening date of April 13, 2020.

Oatts said Independent Learning Day protocols and Be Bright Eat Right Rockdale meal delivery routes would continue through April 3, 2020. Spring Break is scheduled for April 6-10, 2020.

For additional details and information on meal delivery routes, please visit the school system's website at www.rockdaleschools.org/COVID19.

Griffin-Spalding Schools extends closure through April 3

The Griffin Spalding County Schools announced on Tuesday that in response to Gov. Brian Kemp's order to school districts around the state regarding the coronavirus pandemic, the school system will extend its closure of all schools and offices through Friday, April 3.

The district will be closed for Spring Break, as planned, the week of April 6-10.

All Griffin-Spalding students in grades 3-12 will move to all-digital learning from March 30-April 3. Additional details are available at the school system's website at www.spalding.k12.ga.us.

COVID-19 testing at Jim Miller Park

The coronavirus testing is by INVITATION only, and specifically for those with confirmation from medical professionals. It is NOT for the general public. 

The testing will begin on Wednesday, March 18. 

Authorities said the testing is being conducted by the Cobb-Douglas Department of Public Health. Cobb Police said the area where the testing is taking place will be completely closed to the general public.

Second patient arrives at Hard Labor Creek State Park for isolation

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) said a second patient who tested positive for COVID-19 arrived at Hard Labor Creek State Park in Morgan County. 

The first patient was released from isolation earlier this week. 

The current patient will be observed and monitored at the isolation unit by Ga. Dept. of Public Health. 

GEMA Director Homer Bryson previously said that seven emergency mobile units had been deployed to the park. He said the park was chosen specifically due to its remote location and capability to accommodate the emergency mobile units.

University of Georgia's G-Day canceled

The University of Georgia football team's annual G-Day scrimmage scheduled for Saturday, April 18, has been officially cancelled.

“The Bulldog Nation is fully focused on the health and well-being of everyone,” said UGA J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity. “By strictly following the guidelines of local, state and federal authorities, together we can defeat the virus! We look forward to returning to the campus activities we enjoy and cherish.”

Six Flags over Georgia donates unused food

Six Flags Over Georgia and White Water said they donated more than 1,600 pounds of fresh produce and milk to The Center for Children & Young Adults in Marietta. The park recently announced they were closing due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

“Six Flags Over Georgia and White Water are committed to serving our community through this unprecedented situation,” said Park President, Dale Kaetzel. “We are grateful for the partnership with The Center for Children & Young Adults and look forward to providing those living at the center with this nutritious food in a time of uncertainty.”

Governor provides update to citizens

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp took to social media to update the citizens. He said they've submitted a letter to the SBA to speed funding up from the federal level. 

He said they are hoping to have one testing facility in every region of the state within the next 5-7 days. He added that the Georgia Department of Public Health will be up to 200 tests per day by the end of the week. 

Kemp also said that GEMA, the National Guard, Georgia State Patrol and others are working to not only secure, but also deliver medical supplies. 

Kroger to adjust store hours

Kroger’s Atlanta Division, which includes Georgia, Eastern Alabama and South Carolina, will temporarily adjust store hours to balance the needs of customers and associates, they announced today. New store hours will be from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

DeKalb Schools to add more food locations

DeKalb Schools is working to ensure that all students in need of food while classes are not in session will get it. They announced on Tuesday that they're adding the following pickup locations: 

John R. Lewis ES - Region I
Avondale ES - Region II
Stephenson MS - Region III
Freedom MS - Region IV
Miller Grove MS - Region V
Peachcrest ES - Region VI
Cedar Grove ES - Region VII
 
With the additional sites, DCSD’s meal service sites to 21. In conjunction with DeKalb Government’s afternoon snack sites, there will be a total of 30 meal sites across the county.  

They said they'll also add school bus deliveries starting on Monday, March 23.

Visit https://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/  for more information.

APS to provide more food distribution sites, busing of food

Atlanta Public Schools (APS) announced today that it is increasing the number of food distribution sites and will be busing food to children 18 years old or younger while the district is closed.

Food distribution is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday through Friday at these five anchor sites:

  • Bunche Middle School - 1925 Niskey Lake Rd., SW, Atlanta, GA 30331
  • Cleveland Avenue Elementary School - 2672 Old Hapeville Rd., SW, Atlanta, GA 30315
  • Douglass High School - 225 Hamilton E Holmes Dr., NW, Atlanta, GA 30318
  • Phoenix Academy (formerly Alonzo Crim High School) - 256 Clifton St., SE, Atlanta, GA 30317
  • Sylvan Hills Middle School - 1461 Sylvan Rd., SW, Atlanta, GA 30310

Starting on Wednesday, March 18, these five additional sites will open:

  • Booker T. Washington High School - 45 Whitehouse Dr. SW, Atlanta, GA 30314
  • Hope-Hill Elementary School - 112 Boulevard NE, Atlanta, GA 30312
  • King Middle School - 545 Hill St SE, Atlanta, GA 30312
  • Thomasville Heights Elementary School - 1820 Henry Thomas Dr. SE, Atlanta, GA 30315
  • Young Middle School - 3116 Benjamin E Mays Dr. SW, Atlanta, GA 30311

APS will also begin food distribution on all middle school bus routes in the following clusters on Wednesday: Therrell, South Atlanta, Washington, Jackson, Mays, Douglass and Carver Cluster.

More information is available at: www.atlantapublicschools.us/coronavirus.


Atlanta mayor issues executive order to temporarily halt evictions, creates $7 million assistance fund 

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an executive order on Tuesday, calling on the Atlanta Housing Authority, Atlanta Beltline Inc., Fulton County / City of Atlanta Land Bank Authority, Invest Atlanta, Partners for Home and the City of Atlanta’s Department of Grants and Community Development to institute a temporary moratorium on residential evictions and filings for a period of sixty days. effective immediately. 

Bottoms also created a $7 million emergency fund to provide assistance to those impacted by the virus. The resources are designated to fund emergency assistance to food programs for children and seniors, homeless preparedness, support to small businesses, assistance to hourly wage earners and other areas adversely impacted by COVID-19, the order said. 

 The funds will be allocated as follows:

  • $1 million to provide emergency assistance to child food programs
  • $1 million to provide emergency assistance to senior food programs
  • $1 million to provide emergency assistance to homeless preparedness
  • $1.5 million to support small business continuity
  • $1 million for the purchase of technology to support the City’s full telework
    deployment
  • $1.5 million to assist hourly wage earners of businesses engaged with the City
    of Atlanta

Georgia Dept. of Public Health announces new cases of COVID-19

The Georgia Department of Health announced new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. As of Noon, there are 146 confirmed cases of the virus and 1 death reported. This is up from 121 confirmed cases that they announced on Monday.

Of the 146 confirmed cases, 33 are in Fulton, 25 in Cobb and 15 in DeKalb. 

They said 1 percent of those who tested positive are under the age of 17, 46 percent are 18-59 years old, 40 percent are over the age of 60 and 13 percent are unknown.

Matt Ryan donates $100K

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan announced this morning that he will be donating $100,000 to Atlanta-based organizations to help with relief during the coronavirus outbreak. A representative from his agency told 11Alive that the money will be equally distributed to two charitable organizations: Atlanta Community Food Bank, which provides foods to the needy, and Giving Kitchen, which offers emergency assistance to food service workers.

Regal and AMC close all theaters amid coronavirus outbreak

Regal announced on Monday that it will be closing all its theater locations starting Tuesday as a precaution amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

AMC also announced on Twitter Tuesday it would be closing all its theaters for at least 6 to 12 weeks.

Ponce City Market to temporarily close

Ponce City Market, the popular shopping, dining and entertainment district in Atlanta announced that it will close. 

"After much deliberation and in response," they said in a statement, the center will be temporarily closed as of 9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17th. 

"The health and safety of our visitors, tenants, employees, vendors, and residents continues to be our highest priority, and we will follow recommendations from local health authorities on a timeline for reopening."

Visit poncecitymarket.com for the latest information.

Gov. Kemp to hold news conference

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and state officials will give a media briefing digitally regarding COVID-19 response efforts in Georgia at 1 p.m. 

Along with Gov. Kemp, Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health and Homer Bryson, director of Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency will be on hand. 

You will be able to watch the briefing live on 11alive.com. 

Testing numbers from Ga. Dept. of Public Health released

The Georgia Department of Public Health told 11Alive's Joe Henke today that they performed 447 COVID-19 tests and tested 308 individuals at the Georgia Public Health Lab from March 5 to March 15. 

They said the total number of tests is higher than the number of individuals because initial testing under CDC guidelines required nasal and throat specimen (in person).  

Numbers beyond March 15 were not made available yet. The state's numbers don't include tests run by private labs or the CDC.

Red Cross faces severe blood shortage

The American Red Cross faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations in response to the coronavirus outbreak, they said. 

To date, nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses and schools amidst the coronavirus outbreak. These cancellations have resulted in some 86,000 fewer blood donations.

Individuals can schedule an appointment to give blood with the Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Some Atlanta airport checkpoints closed

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport announced the North and South Terminal checkpoints are closed.

A spokesperson for the airport said, "this change is based on demand." The spokesperson confirmed the checkpoints are not closed to help with coronavirus cleaning efforts. 

The tweet said passengers are being directed to the main checkpoint until further notice. 

Monday, March 16

State of Emergency declared for Douglas County

Douglas County Board of Commission Chair Dr. Romona Jackson announced Monday that she has declared a local state of emergency due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Officials are urging residents to monitor the county's website for updates and follow guidance of the Cobb and Douglas Public Health agencies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Atlanta Gladiators forced by coronavirus to end their season

Atlanta Gladiators team president Jerry James sent a letter to fans of the ECHL team on Monday, thanking them for their support during the season. 

"Although we looked forward to completing our regular season and competing in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, we will unfortunately be setting down our sticks until the fall," James said.

The minor league affiliate of the Boston Bruins, along with the other 25 teams in the ECHL were forced to step back from competitive hockey by the coronavirus outbreak which sidelined nearly all sports worldwide this month.

"Our team will take a nine-game home winning streak into Opening Weekend 2020," James said. "I speak for the entire Gladiators organization when I say we look forward to welcoming everyone back to Infinite Energy Arena to drop the puck this fall."

Atlanta mayor issue directive for program to continue to provide free meals to students

The City of Atlanta tweeted that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has issued a directive for Centers of Hope Afterschool Program to continue to provide free meals to all students who rely on them throughout the closure of schools.

They posted a list of meal site locations on Twitter.

Smyrna responding to COVID-19

The city of Smyrna is taking several actions to make changes to its operations to help protect the staff and citizens. City Hall and several other public building are closed. Essential services will still continue.   

Some meetings have been canceled.

"We will re-evaluate at the end of the month how we will proceed going forward, which may include meeting via teleconference," said Mayor Derek Norton.

A task force has been assembled to address COVID-19.

The city has also decided to suspend water disconnections for the next 60 days.

Norton said Georgia Power and Cobb EMC has suspended disconnections and collections for 30 days. "It is also my understanding based on conversations this afternoon that natural gas providers, including City of Smyrna partner Gas South, will suspend disconnections and collections for 30 days," he added.

The city is partnering with faith leaders and MUST Ministries to feed children in the Smyrna community. Tillman House on Concord Road will be the center of operations in Smyrna. Information on donations and how to volunteer can be found here.

Atlanta Mayor calls on Housing Authority to halt evictions

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tweeted, "We are calling upon our partners to halt evictions during this time," she said.

Bottoms tweeted a photo of the document, where she is calling on the Atlanta Housing Authority and others to "institute a temporary moratorium on residential evictions and filings for a period of 60 days."

Regal Cinemas closing all theaters starting Tuesday; AMC limiting seating

Regal Cinemas is closing all its theaters beginning Tuesday, March 17, until further notice, as a result of the coronavirus. Rival chain AMC Theatres is limiting seating to 50 percent of theater capacity, or no more than 250 persons in any case. 

Regal has 19 theaters around metro Atlanta, while AMC has 21 in the metro area, and an additional 13 theaters across the remainder of Georgia. 

RELATED: Regal closing all theaters starting Tuesday, AMC limiting seating amid coronavirus outbreak

Cobb County transitions to 'limited operational status'; events cancelled

Officials in Cobb County said on Monday that effective Wednesday, the county will transition to a "limited operational status," meaning that many publicly-accessible buildings will be closed, except for essential employees only. 

County services will continue to be maintained and public safety will remain fully staffed, according to county officials. 

Cobb Commission Chairman Mike Boyce canceled Tuesday's scheduled zoning hearing, saying that holding a meeting with a large group of people at this time would send the wrong message. 

Gov. Kemp closes all public schools in Georgia through March 31

Gov. Brian Kemp has ordered all public elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools in the state closed from March 18 through March 31, 2020.

"To keep our students, teachers, and administrators safe and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, I am ordering the closure of all public elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools in Georgia from March 18, 2020 to March 31, 2020," said Kemp in his order. "This measure is critical to reducing local transmission in communities across our state, and I ask Georgians to continue to follow best practices - washing their hands regularly, isolating the elderly and chronically ill, and avoiding large events if possible - in the days and weeks ahead." 

Many school systems had already closed, but this order closes the remainder of the public schools in the state as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

City of Duluth cancels city-sponsored events until May 10; Courts closed until April 13

Officials in the city of Duluth said Monday they are closing City Hall and city administrative offices to the public through March 27. 

In addition, officials said the city has decided to cancel all city-sponsored events through May 10 and the courts will be closed until April 13.

However, city officials said they want to reassure citizens that all emergency services will be maintained at a high level. For emergency services, please cal 770-476-4151 or 911.

Fulton County closing government center, satellite locations

Fulton County announced they are closing its offices in several public facilities (listed below) starting Tuesday, March 17, until further notice. They said this was "based on the latest guidance from federal and state agencies."

  • Fulton County Government Center, 141 Pryor Street, SW
  • 137 Peachtree Street, SW, Atlanta
  • North Fulton Service Center, 7741 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs
  • South Fulton Service Center, 5600 Stonewall Tell Rd # 114, Atlanta
  • Customer Service Center at Maxwell Road, 11575 Maxwell Road, Alpharetta

Essential public health and public safety services will continue, county officials said, with modifications.

Grady Hospital to restrict visitors

Grady Health System is implementing a stricter visitation policy at the hospital, effective immediately. No visitors will be allowed unless the patient meets limited exceptions, they said. 

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, it is imperative that Grady maintain the safest care environment possible for our patients and those who care for them. We appreciate the public’s understanding as we all adjust to these uncertain times,” said Dr. Robert Jansen, Grady Chief Medical Officer.

TSA screening officer at Hartsfield-Jackson tests positive for COVID-19

The TSA confirmed that one officer at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has tested positive for COVID-19. 

They said the person infected worked the morning shift as a screening officer in Terminal F and their last day of work was March 7. 

This is the seventh TSA screening officer to test positive, but the first at Hartsfield-Jackson. The others worked at Orlando International Airport, Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (4 cases) and Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

CDC employee tests positive for COVID-19

An employee at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tested positive for COVID-19, they confirmed on Monday. 

Laboratory testing done at the CDC confirmed this diagnosis. They said the person is in good condition and is isolated to prevent spread of infection to others.  

They said that the person with the virus was not involved in the COVID-19 response, has not been present in the CDC workplace since March 6, and was asymptomatic at that time.

Atlanta mayor changes order, limits crowds to 50

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a state of emergency for the city in an effort to slow down the spread of the coronavirus on Sunday. However, she changed the ban of large public gatherings from 250 people to 50 on Monday, based on the recommendation of the CDC. 

Atlanta Braves season pushed back 8 weeks

Major League Baseball will be delaying its season by eight weeks, in accordance with CDC guidelines to limit gathers of 50 or more people. On March 12, the league previously announced it would postpone opening day by at least two weeks. 

Clubs remain "committed to playing as many games as possible when the season begins," Monday's statement said. 

City of Brookhaven declares state of emergency, suspends dine-in service at restaurants and bars

Restaurants and bars in the City of Brookhaven are temporarily not able to provide dine-in service, the city announced on Monday.

Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst called a meeting of the city council for the purpose of an emergency declaration and suspending dine-in service for all restaurants and bars in the city limits.

“This is just the latest step in preventing the spread of this highly contagious virus. The CDC and Board of Health are advocating social distancing as a means of containing the Coronavirus, so we are requiring that Brookhaven restaurants and bars suspend dine-in service until March 30,” said Mayor Ernst.

City officials said delivery and takeout services are still allowed by establishments which are properly permitted and offer those services. 

In addition to food and beverage sales, any venue that provides on-premises entertainment is also suspended, whether or not food or beverages are sold, they said.

The Varsity suspends dine-in service

What'll ya have? From your car. 

The Varsity announced Monday they will only be serving customers in the drive-thru during business hours at all of its locations outside the metro Atlanta area. The Atlanta location will be serving customers in the drive-in as well as through limited, carry-out only counter service.  

"In addition to our normal intensive cleaning practices, we are taking even more steps to provide a safe environment, including appointing team members who are responsible solely for sanitizing all surfaces and items that come in contact by touch throughout the duration of service hours," they said on Facebook.

Dept. of Driver Services urging users to go online, giving extensions to some

The Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) said Monday they are urging all customers to consider using online services at dds.georgia.gov or the "DDS 2 GO" app to conduct their licensing business and not visit in person during this public health emergency. 

They also said they are granting a 120-extension to license and/or ID card holders who are 60 and older. DDS is contacting them directly to alert them that there is no need for them to visit in person.

Kroger hiring associated to help keep shelves stocked

Kroger’s Atlanta Division, which includes Georgia, Eastern Alabama and South Carolina, is hiring new associates to help keep stores stocked with fresh, affordable food and essentials, they announced on Monday. Those interested can apply at jobs.kroger.com. They also said that in Georgia, they are not limiting hours at this time.

“We want to emphasize that customers should not panic. The supply chain is strong and has not been interrupted,” said Felix Turner manager of corporate affairs for Kroger’s Atlanta Division.

Major spring festivals begin to see cancellations, postponements 

The Dogwood Festival, scheduled to take place April 17 – 19, will be postponed, organizers announced on Monday. The 3-day event has attracted as many as 200,000 of people from all over the region at Atlanta's Piedmont Park.  

“This was a difficult decision, but we feel it provides the highest level of safety for our artists, performers, vendors and attendees,” said Brian Hill, festival executive director. “We recognize that the Atlanta Dogwood Festival has been an important springtime tradition for more than eight decades, and our ultimate goal is to see this continue for the 84th year, once conditions improve."

The Inman Park Spring Festival & Tour of Homes, scheduled to take place April 24-26, will be postponed or cancelled, they announced. 

Georgia Dept. of Public Health announces new cases of COVID-19

The Georgia Department of Health announced new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. As of Noon, there are 121 confirmed cases of the virus and 1 death reported. This is up from 99 confirmed cases that they announced on Sunday.

Of the 121 confirmed cases, 27 are in Fulton, 22 in Cobb and 10 in DeKalb.

State school superintendent suspending testing administration, accountability requirements

State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced on Monday that he is suspending the following:

  • State assessment window/administration (including Georgia Milestones EOGs and EOCs, the Georgia Alternate Assessment/GAA 2.0, and all other required testing
  • Teacher and leader evaluation (TKES/LKES) requirements and reporting
  • State-level attendance-related consequences (including CCRPI, TKES/LKES, School Climate Star Rating, and make-up day requirements)

“Right now, schools’ focus needs to be on the safety of their students and staff,” Superintendent Woods said. “The focus should be first and foremost on health and safety, then on flexible and creative ways to keep learning and growing. It’s common sense: testing and accountability requirements should not place an additional burden on students, parents, and educators during this time, and they will not in Georgia.”

Georgia lawmakers grapple over emergency resolution

Georgia lawmakers fell into political disagreement Monday over ratification of a state of emergency declared by Gov. Brian Kemp. They convened in special session just after 8 a.m. Legislative leaders promised to conclude the session as quickly as possible. However, lawmakers lingered during extended recesses as legislative leaders tried to negotiate a compromise. 

Government official: Coronavirus vaccine trial starts Monday

A clinical trial evaluating a vaccine designed to protect against the new coronavirus will begin Monday. A government official says the first participant in the trial will receive the experimental vaccine that day. The National Institutes of Health is funding the trial that is taking place at a Kaiser Permanente research facility in Seattle. Testing will begin with 45 young, healthy volunteers with different doses of shots co-developed by NIH and Moderna Inc. Public health officials say it will take a year to 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine.

Sunday, March 15

2 Emory students being tested for coronavirus

Emory University has released information detailing two possible coronavirus cases in connection with students. In a release to the Emory University community, it said that two students in undergraduate housing are being tested.

The university also stressed that neither case is confirmed. However, both students are self-isolating in off-campus housing provided by the university. The move is out of an abundance of caution.

The students live in Dobbs Hall and at the Clairmont campus respectively. Their roommates have been notified and are being supported by student health services staff, the university said.

Meanwhile, their rooms have been cleaned and disinfected by personnel.

Chick-fil-A to temporarily close dining room seating

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A will be closing its dining rooms to help prevent person-to-person contact in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus in its locations nationwide.

The company said the move is only temporary and would take different forms at different locations. Some restaurants may only officer service through the drive-thrus while others may offer takeout, delivery or mobile order options.

On Friday, the company announced it would close its playgrounds and serve meals in carry-out packaging; though guests at that time could have still eaten at the restaurant.

The drive-thru also stopped offering a printed menu. The company said then that beverage refill service may also change though it's unclear what form that change could take.

Atlanta mayor prohibits public gatherings of more than 250 to slow coronavirus

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she is issuing a state of emergency for the city in an effort to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. However, the details of what that means may not be set in stone.

Mayor Bottoms initially tweeted a photo of the declaration Sunday evening saying that large public gatherings of more than 250 people were also prohibited. The executive order would be in effect through March 31.

A short time later, Bottoms acknowledged new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggesting public gatherings be restricted even further. 

Bottoms suggested that she and city officials "will continue to evaluate and adjust" policies.

Newton County Schools confirms employee diagnosed with virus

Authorities confirmed on Sunday that a Newton County School System employee who works at one of the schools has tested positive for coronavirus.

The school system released an update on its website that school officials were contacted by the Newton County School System about the employee. While they didn't identify the patient, they did say the employee works at Newton County Theme School.

The health department is now conducting an investigation and working to identify close contacts with that employee and is working to make sure it takes necessary precautions. Class in Newton County had already been canceled on the advisement of Governor Brian Kemp before the patient was ever identified.

During the time the school system is closed the school system is urging students to remain home to reduce the chance of getting the virus. Like many school systems across the state, schools in Newton County are closed indefinitely beginning Monday. During this time, the system will thoroughly clean schools and buses.


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: www.11Alive.com/Coronavirus.

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