2020 coronavirus pandemic in Georgia (U.S. state)
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|Location||Georgia, United States|
|First outbreak||Wuhan, China, China|
|Arrival date||March 2, 2020 (3 weeks and 5 days ago)|
|Confirmed cases||2,198 (as of March 27, 2020[update])|
|65 (as of March 27, 2020[update])|
The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic was first detected in the U.S. state of Georgia on March 2, 2020; the state's first death came ten days later on March 12. Governor Brian Kemp on March 23 banned gatherings of over 10 people, ordered bars and nightclubs to close, and issued a shelter-in-place order for the "medically fragile". Kemp previously declared an "unprecedented" public health emergency on March 14 and ordered on March 16 that all public schools, colleges, and universities in the state close from March 18 through the start of April. COVID-19 was first detected in a prison inmate on March 20.
Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on March 23 signed a 14-day stay-at-home order to direct all city residents to stay at home except for performing essential tasks through April 7. This followed a city-wide state of emergency on March 15 "[prohibiting] large public gatherings of more than 250 people" and a March 20 order for businesses to close. The city of South Fulton instituted a curfew on March 17, requiring residents to stay at home from 9:00 PM to 7:00 AM (with work and medical exceptions) and barring gatherings of more than ten people. On March 23, DeKalb County enacted a "voluntary curfew".
One of the hot-spots in the state for the coronavirus is Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, located in Albany in southwest Georgia, where as of March 20, 57 tests have come back positive, four patients have died, and six hospital workers have been infected. The hospital also received media attention after CEO Scott Steiner said they exhausted five months of medical supplies in just six days, experienced price gouging from medical suppliers, and had plans for staff workers to manually sew respiratory masks. In response, Albany and surrounding Dougherty County declared a shelter-in-place order lasting two weeks on March 20.
Grand Princess and rising cases
On March 8, Governor Brian Kemp announced that a number of Americans on the cruise ship Grand Princess — including 34 Georgians — would be "securely transferred" to Dobbins Air Reserve Base for testing and quarantine on March 9 or 10. That night, Kemp said four currently hospitalized Georgians had been tested for COVID-19, with the Georgia Department of Public Health waiting for confirmation from the CDC; one person was a resident of Cherokee County, two were residents of Cobb County, and one a resident of Fulton County.
On March 10, the Department of Public Health reported five additional cases, bringing the state total to 22. The majority of cases were in Cobb County (7 cases) and Fulton County (6 cases). On March 11, the state announced nine more cases, making the total 31 presumed, with twelve confirmed.
On March 12, the state of Georgia reported its first death related to the pandemic, according to a statement from the governor's office. A dining facility worker at Moody Air Force Base, near Valdosta, tested positive for the virus, prompting temporary closure of the facility for cleaning.
Emory University became the first state college to close its campus and move classes online for the remainder of the semester. The University System of Georgia announced that its 26 public institutions would remain open based on the current advice of the Georgia Department of Public Health. Three hours later the decision was reversed and the University System of Georgia has temporarily suspended instruction for two weeks starting on March 16. On March 14, Gwinnett Technical College decided to close both of its campuses from March 16 through March 22, after announcing on March 13 that from March 23, to resume all currently 100% online courses as usual, and to convert all other courses to online instruction where possible.
Also on March 12, many school districts in the state of Georgia made the decision to cancel classes for at least two weeks, such as Cobb County School District, who had an elementary school teacher test positive for the coronavirus.
States of emergency
On March 15, Atlanta mayor Bottoms declared a state of emergency in the city, and banned public gatherings of more than 250 people.
|Cobb County, Georgia||March 24, 2020||Until April 15, 2020|
Senator Kelly Loeffler, after a private briefing on the coronavirus from the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on January 24, 2020, began to offload various stocks — by February 14, she had sold between $1.2 million and $3.1 million worth of holdings. These actions attracted widespread condemnation — Democratic Senate contender Raphael Warnock called her actions "unconscionable", US Representative Doug Collins said he was "sickened just thinking about it", and Georgia Speaker David Ralston said he was "absolutely worried about the down-ticket damage".
On February 28 Loeffler said on Twitter that "Democrats have dangerously and intentionally misled the American people on [coronavirus] readiness".
All state lawmakers and their staff members were urged to self-quarantine on March 18 after state Senator Brandon Beach tested positive. Beach had displayed symptoms for nearly a week, and despite knowing his coronavirus test was pending, he went to work at the state capitol on March 16 when emergency legislation was passed. Beach explained in an interview that he "was cleared to go back to normal duties" and added that "[i]n no way, shape or form would [he] ever intentionally expose anyone". Governor Kemp, who was also potentially exposed, said he would not self-quarantine or be tested because his time around others was "severely limited" and he "never interacted with any legislators".
On March 9, Governor Kemp announced the preparation of Hard Labor Creek State Park, located in Morgan County, as a quarantine destination for diagnosed individuals "without other options". On March 10, a coronavirus patient from Cherokee County, who did not need hospitalization but lacked adequate quarantine conditions at home, became the first to be relocated to the park; he was released on March 15. A second person arrived on March 17. Georgia stopped using this location on March 24.
A second quarantine site was constructed at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, Monroe County. The area houses twenty trailers with room for up to 40 patients. This site opened on March 24, replacing the old site.
The Georgia Department of Corrections (DOC) suspended visitations and announced additional sanitation measures, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that inmates had seen no extra soap. A prison worker was confirmed to have the coronavirus on March 18 — the DOC, citing "security and HIPAA restrictions", declined to name the affected prison. The first detected case on COVID-19 in a prison inmate was at Lee State Prison two days later, on March 20.
Department of Public Health
The Department of Public Health (DPH) releases daily coronavirus statistics, including the number of confirmed cases, deaths, positive tests, and total tests, as well as breakdowns by age, sex, and county. DPH recently began releasing numbers twice a day at 12:00 pm and 7:00 pm, and starting on March 24 included the number of hospitalizations. On March 27, the DPH updated the state map on its website.
|Laboratory||Positive tests||Total tests|
|Georgia Public Health Laboratory||265||1,746|
County and city governments
In addition to Atlanta, the cities of Brookhaven, Clarkston, Sandy Springs and Dunwoody have approved plans to ban dine-in service at restaurants. Clarkston also banned gatherings of more than ten people. South Fulton on March 17 instituted a curfew from 9:00 PM to 7:00 AM, with work and medical exceptions.
Six Flags Over Georgia announced that the theme park would close temporarily from March 13 to April 1. Emory Healthcare announced the postponement of "all inpatient and outpatient elective surgical and procedural cases" starting on March 16. Furry Weekend Atlanta, a furry convention held in Atlanta, announced that the 2020 iteration of the convention scheduled for May had been cancelled in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Other attractions in Atlanta that have closed temporarily include the Children's Museum of Atlanta, the World of Coca-Cola, the College Football Hall of Fame, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Georgia Aquarium, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and Zoo Atlanta.
In an effort to reduce exposure between bus drivers and riders, MARTA starting requiring passengers to use the rear door. Since the fare box is at the front near the driver, MARTA stopped collecting fares on buses.
By the end of March, ridership on trains had fallen 67% and bus ridership dropped by 55% compared with the previous month, reflecting national trends. A coalition of public transportation systems across the country — MARTA, along with Bay Area Rapid Transit, the Chicago Transit Authority, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, King County Metro, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, NJ Transit, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority — requested at least $25 billion in relief from the federal government.
The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation announced on March 20 that it would donate $5 million to an Atlanta coronavirus fund set up by United Way of Greater Atlanta and Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, in addition to $400,000 in other grants for non-profits in Georgia and Montana.
During the week of March 16–20, unemployment benefit filings in Georgia increased by 400%.
Georgia's Democratic presidential primary elections were originally scheduled for March 24, 2020, but they were moved to May 19. On March 24, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced that all registered voters would receive absentee ballot request forms in the mail.
Most of the state's sports teams were affected. Several leagues began postponing or suspending their seasons starting March 12. Major League Baseball cancelled the remainder of spring training on that date, and on March 16, they announced that the season will be postponed indefinitely, after the recommendations from the CDC to restrict events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, affecting the Atlanta Braves. Also on March 12, the National Basketball Association announced the season would be suspended for 30 days, affecting the Atlanta Hawks.
In college sports, the National Collegiate Athletic Association cancelled all winter and spring tournaments, most notably the Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments, affecting colleges and universities statewide. On March 16, the National Junior College Athletic Association also canceled the remainder of the winter seasons as well as the spring seasons.
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- Bluestein, Greg (March 14, 2020). "UPDATE: Kemp declares public health emergency; 66 coronavirus cases in Ga". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
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- Fox 26: Six Flags Over Georgia closing through end of March
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