ATLANTA — UPDATE THURSDAY, MARCH 12: 11Alive is tracking updates at a new page, which you can visit here
Cases of COVID-19, a new strain of coronavirus, have begun spreading in Georgia after arriving in the United States in February.
State and federal officials with the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are continually monitoring the spread of coronavirus in the United States. They are also working hand-in-hand with the World Health Organization to track the spread around the world.
We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page.
FACTS NOT FEAR: FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE
Wednesday, March 11
Latest Case Count
Gov. Brian Kemp's Office has released the latest number of coronavirus cases in Georgia. There are now 12 confirmed cases and 19 presumptive positive cases.
The confirmed cases are in the following counties: Three (3) in Fulton County, two (2) in Floyd County, one (1) in Polk County, two (2) in Cobb County, three (3) in Bartow County, one (1) in Lee County.
The presumptive positive cases are in the following counties: Three (3) in Fulton County, six (6) in Cobb County, one (1) in Fayette County, four (4) in DeKalb County, two (2) in Gwinnett County, one (1) in Cherokee County, one (1) in Charlton County, and one (1) in Lowndes County.
Atlanta mayor issues order halting water service disconnections
Thorough hand washing is one of the best practices for prevention of the novel coronavirus.
To make sure everyone has access to water over the next two months, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an administrative order to halt water service termination for any Watershed Management customer due to non-payment.
The administrative order is effective immediately.
College students 'may have been exposed'
Gordon State College in Barnesville reports two of their students "may have been exposed to" COVID-19.
In a post to the college's website, the school gave few details, but said the possible exposure came while the students were working at an off-campus location.
The school does not say whether the students are reporting any symptoms and said "the overall risk of COVID-19 to students at Gordon State College is low."
Kemp Requests $100 Million to fight COVID-19
Gov. Brian Kemp sent a letter Wednesday to Speaker of the House David Ralston and Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, requesting $100 million be drawn from the Revenue Shortfall Reserve (RSR) to combat the spread of COVID-19.
"Ensuring that Georgia has the resources at hand to enable us to respond quickly and thoroughly to prevent its [COVID-19] spread within our borders is paramount to keeping our citizens safe, maintaining the health of our health network, and mitigating impact to our economy," Kemp said. "The spread of the coronavirus represents an immediate and unforeseen threat to the state."
Atlanta Mayor to fund Coronavirus team
Mayor Bottoms issued an Administrative Order directing the Chief Financial Officer to coordinate with the Chief Health Officer and Director of Emergency Preparedness to develop a financial framework to identify funds to implement the activities and needs of the Mayor’s Coronavirus Pandemic Coordination Team.
“While facing the coronavirus health threat, this Order will ensure the City is in its best posture to conduct day-to-day operations without disruption,” said Mayor Bottoms. “This funding framework will be used to guarantee the City of Atlanta is positioned to deliver services and conduct operations in a seamless manner regardless of what we as a community may face in the days and weeks ahead.”
Last month, under the direction of Mayor Bottoms, the Mayor’s Pandemic Coordination Team was created to lead the City’s strategic plan to ensure minimal impact to the City of Atlanta in the case of a COVID-19 pandemic. The team is led by the City’s Chief Health Officer, Dr. Angelica Geter Fugerson, and the City’s Director of Emergency Preparedness and former FBI Special Agent, Felipe den Brok. The Work Group is an inter-departmental effort with the mission of ensuring City operations continuity and public safety readiness.
You can view Mayor Bottoms’ Administrative Order at this link.
Men's Final Four in Atlanta to be held without fans, NCAA president says
The NCAA president announced Wednesday that all upcoming championship events will be held without fans, including the Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments. The men's Final Four was scheduled in Atlanta on April 4 and 6.
"The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel. Based on their advice and my discussions with the NCAA Board of Governors, I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance," NCAA President Mark Emmert said.
Positive Case of Coronavirus at Cobb Elementary School
The Cobb County School District has confirmed a positive case of coronavirus at Kincaid Elementary School. As a result, the school will be closed for the next 14 days, staring on March 12.
The district said it will follow Department of Public Health guidelines to thoroughly clean and sanitize the entire campus and buses within 48 hours of closing.
No other Cobb schools are closed at this time.
A second Fulton County School System employee has coronavirus
Fulton County Schools officials announced on Wednesday that another employee has COVID-19, or coronavirus.
The school is already closed because a different employee who served that school, and Bear Creek Middle, previously tested positive.
Woodland Middle School was scheduled to re-open on March 17 based on the exposure in the first case; however, the second employee with the virus was last in school on March 9 and the date to re-open is being moved to Monday, March 23, which is the same as Bear Creek Middle School.
South Georgia patient tests preliminarily positive for coronavirus
11Alive's news partner First Coast News reports a Camden County, Georgia patient has tested preliminarily positive for COVID-19. Another is being tested for the disease.
Cartersville Medical Center announces first patient tests positive for COVID-19 virus
Cartersville Medical Center in Cartersville, Ga. announced that a patient tested tested positive for COVID-19. They also said three patients are awaiting test results.
"We are following infection prevention protocols for COVID-19 patients, including isolation, to help ensure the safety of our colleagues, patients and visitors, and we continue to work closely with the CDC and health department," the hospital said in a statement.
Cartersville Medical Center said they are implementing a screening protocol at hospital entrances and puts masks and other supplies at entrances for potential patients to use.
Cruise passengers arrive at Georgia airbase for quarantine
From the Associated Press: Military officials say some of the passengers from a cruise ship in California that carried people infected by the new coronavirus have arrived at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia.
A statement from the airbase says passengers from the Grand Princess arrived early Wednesday and will now begin a 14-day quarantine at the base in Cobb County, just northwest of Atlanta. Base officials have prepared to house dozens of people there.
For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. But it can cause severe illness in older adults and people with existing health problems.
Latest Case Count
The Georgia Department of Public Health announced five new presumptive cases late Tuesday night, bringing the state's total to 22 confirmed and presumptive cases.
Six of those cases are CDC-confirmed: 3 in Fulton County, 1 in Floyd County, 1 in Polk County and 1 in Cobb County.
The other 16 await final confirmation from the CDC. This is their geographic breakdown: Cobb County (6), Fulton County (3), DeKalb County (2), Gwinnett County (2), Fayette County (1), Cherokee County (1), Charlton County (1).
Tuesday, March 10
First coronavirus patient at Hard Labor Creek State Park
Gov. Brian Kemp's office confirmed Tuesday night that a COVID-19 patient from Cherokee County has been isolated at Hard Labor Creek State Park in one of the mobile units located there.
"The individual was not able to isolate at their primary residence and was not in critical condition requiring any hospital admittance," the statement said. "State public health officials determined that a specific part of Hard Labor Creek State Park would be best suited for isolation as the individual is treated by medical professionals."
On Monday, Kemp and members of the Coronavirus Task Force said state officials would prepare the state park as a destination for patients who have been exposed to the virus. Officials had already delivered and installed seven emergency trailers at the park.
The isolated site at Hard Labor Creek State Park is closed to public access and closely monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week by state law enforcement, officials said.
KIPP South Fulton Academy will remain closed Wednesday
KIPP South Fulton Academy will be closed on Wednesday, March 11.
School officials said all KIPP Metro Atlanta schools within Atlanta Public Schools district will resume full operations on Wednesday.
North Georgia Teacher, Student Quarantined for coronavirus exposure
Murray County School officials say a teacher and another elementary school student are under quarantine after being around people diagnosed with the COVID-19 strain of the coronavirus, according to reports.
Study Center That Closed Following Coronavirus Exposure set to reopen
A Cherokee County study center that closed down amid exposure to the coronavirus outbreak is set to reopen, the school says.
The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) told the study center for homeschooled students it did not have to close its campus, but would voluntarily do so, until March 12.
Holi Festival in Cumming canceled
Organizers with the 15th annual Sewa International USA Holi Festival have decided to cancel this weekend's event in Cumming, as concerns grow over the spread of coronavirus.
The annual Hindu festival was scheduled for Sunday, March 15 at the Cumming Fairgrounds.
Fulton County Schools to remain closed through Thursday
All but two Fulton County Schools will remain closed through Thursday. School officials announced classes would remain closed on Wednesday after school leaders learned an employee tested positive for Coronavirus.
Students and teachers will return to school on Thursday, March 12, with the exception of Bear Creek Middle School and Woodland Middle School, they said.
Rep. David Scott postpones Jobs Fair
Congressman David Scott (GA-13) announced that he is postponing his 17th Annual Jobs Fair, which was scheduled to take place Friday, March 27 at the Georgia International Convention Center.
“In response to recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the coronavirus, I have decided to cancel our 2020 Jobs Fair," the Congressman said in a statement.
West Cobb Library Closes Temporarily
Cobb County has closed the West Cobb Library after an employee was possibly exposed to a coronavirus patient, County officials said.
"The worker has not been diagnosed with the virus but under an abundance of caution the worker was sent home and a cleaning company has been contracted to work on the facility. We do not know how long that cleaning will take," a release read.
An outside cleaning company was contracted to do the cleaning and there is no timeline on how long it will take. A SPLOST open house scheduled at that library has been canceled. However, the SPLOST open house scheduled for the Acworth library will go on as planned.
Waffle House Employee Tests Positive
An employee at a Waffle House has tested positive for coronavirus, according to the restaurant. That employee works at the restaurant at 1849 Marietta Highway in Canton, Georgia and the location is temporarily closed.
“During the restaurant closure, we sanitized the restaurant thoroughly, using methods specifically designed to clean and disinfect,” Waffle House Director of Public Relations Njeri Boss said in a statement released to 11Alive.
Waffle House said the employee last worked on March 1 and that the 12 co-workers who worked with that person were instructed to self-quarantine at their homes through Saturday, March 14.
Georgia Legislature Page Program suspended
The Georgia Legislature confirms they are temporarily suspending its House Page program in light of the spread of coronavirus with the metro Atlanta area.
The Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston said he is not at the point of considering suspending the legislative session and "hopes it doesn't come to that later."
Emory confirms treatment of coronavirus patient
Emory Healthcare confirms it has admitted their first patient who has tested positive for COVID-19.
They did not give specifics on which hospital the patient was admitted nor how they may have contracted the illness.
"The Coronavirus situation remains fluid and we are prepared to see more admissions and ambulatory visits moving forward," a hospital spokesperson said. "We are following all protocols and safety measures to ensure patients, their families and our health care community remain safe and we will continue to keep the public educated and informed."
Though the hospital is reporting the case, the Department of Public Health has not yet confirmed it as an official positive case.
DeKalb Leaders to Host Coronavirus Virtual Town Hall
Amid public health concerns, the DeKalb County government is shifting its town hall meeting format to a virtual one.
DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond, the Board of Commissioners, District Health Director Dr. S. Elizabeth Ford and DeKalb County School District Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson will host a virtual town hall meeting about the coronavirus and the county’s preparedness measures.
The virtual town hall meeting will be Wednesday, March 11, from 7 to 9 p.m., and can be accessed via:
Questions are being accepted now and during the town hall via:
Fayette County Schools Respond
After state officials announced presumptive cases in Fayette County, the school district responded. They said none of those cases are Fayette County employees or students, according to a recent message sent out by the district.
Latest Case Count
Late Monday night, Gov. Brian Kemp provided an update on the latest number of cases in Georgia. There are six cases confirmed by the CDC, and 11 more positive tests that have been sent to the CDC for final confirmation.
That brings Georgia's total to 17 confirmed and presumptive cases.
Delta Alters Plans
Delta said this morning it would institute a hiring freeze, offer voluntary leave to employees and reduce capacity (cancel flights or use smaller planes) on both domestic and international flights.
See here for the full story: Delta announces hiring freeze, capacity reduction over coronavirus
Paulding School Employee Under Self-Quarantine
An employee at McGarity Elementary School was informed they have been in contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus in an adjacent county Monday morning, according to a notice sent to Principal Karla Dodgen.
"Even though the employee shows no symptoms of COVID-19, as someone who has been in contact with a confirmed case the employee has been advised to self-quarantine for the next 14 days as a precaution. The employee will not be at school during this time," Dodgen said. "Out of an abundance of caution, once we were made aware that the employee had possibly been in contact with a potential case, custodial staff fumigated at McGarity on Sunday with an anti-viral disinfectant."
Dodgen went on to reiterate there are no cases of COVID-19 coronavirus at McGarity Elementary or in any Paulding County Schools at this time.
City of South Fulton Delays Opening
The City of South Fulton announced that they will delay opening to the public until noon on Tuesday. According to the City of South Fulton Facebook page, employees will report to work at 10 a.m.
Monday, March 9
Kipp Metro Atlanta Schools Closed Tuesday
"Out of an abundance of caution, all KIPP Metro Atlanta schools will be closed tomorrow, March 10, 2020," KIPP Metro Atlanta said in a tweet. "We will send out more updates by 6 p.m. tomorrow."
Daycare teacher tests positive for coronavirus
The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning has confirmed that a teacher at a Childcare Network location in Acworth has tested positive for coronavirus.
Monday night, DECAL sent a statement to 11Alive saying that the location, which is on Baker Grove Road, would be closed on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, and Wednesday, March 11, 2020.
Piedmont Healthcare treating patient with possible coronavirus
Piedmont Healthcare confirmed it is treating a patient at its Fayette County location who is presumptive positive for the virus, but they are still waiting for the state's department of health to confirm it.
“Piedmont Healthcare is treating a patient who is presumptive positive for COVID-19 and is waiting for confirmation from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). The patient’s clinical presentation is consistent with COVID-19 and all other clinical explanations for the patient’s diagnosis have been ruled out. All testing and isolation protocols were followed in the care of this patient. As the situation evolves, we continue to work closely with the CDC and DPH to follow protocols for protecting our patients and employees.”
Rep. Doug Collins possibly exposed
"This afternoon, I was notified by CPAC that they discovered a photo of myself and the patient who has tested positive for coronavirus," he tweeted. "While I feel completely healthy and I am not experiencing any symptoms, I have decided to self-quarantine at my home for the remainder of the 14-day period out of an abundance of caution."
At the time, Collins was not showing symptoms, and the odds of spreading the virus when a person is not showing symptoms is very low.
Coronavirus in school
The Fulton County School District said they have been informed that an employee with the district has tested positive for COVID-19.
"Based on this concern, we’ve decided to enact immediate dismissal at the impacted schools," the district said in a statement.
According to the district, the employee worked at two schools - Bear Creek Middle School in Fairburn and Woodland Middle School in East Point. Both were released early. Creekside High School was also released early because of its close proximity to Bear Creek Middle School, and because families have students in both schools.
Another private school in Fairburn, Arlington Christian School, said it would also be closed Tuesday until further notice and cancelling after school activities. The school stressed there are no instances of coronavirus at the school, but noted they are closing because they have "scholars who have family members who work in Fulton County Schools."
"Thus, our closing is a precautionary measure to keep us all safe," the school said.
All Fulton County Schools and offices will be closed March 10, the district said.
MARTA Prepares for COVID-19
Atlanta's transit agency said it is carefully monitoring the coronavirus situation and making informed decisions based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
"The safety of MARTA customers and employees is our top priority and the Authority is taking appropriate measures to prevent the potential spread of the virus," a MARTA spokesperson said.
MARTA said it will continue to thoroughly clean its facilities, rail stations, buses, and trains, with a focus on high touch areas such as handrails, elevator buttons, escalators, and Breeze machines. Antibacterial and antiviral cleaners are used in the clean-up of bodily fluids.
Tips for preventing the spread of the virus have been distributed to all MARTA employees and placed in all MARTA facilities.
Gov. Kemp announced Monday that state officials are working to prepare Hard Labor Creek State Park in Morgan County as a destination for any patients who have been exposed to COVID-19, or coronavirus.
The governor's office said this is being done "out of an abundance of caution" and that "no patients are currently scheduled to be transferred to this location."
Hard Labor Creek State Park is a 5,804 acre state park located in Rutledge, Georgia.
State insurance commissioner encourages companies to ease access
Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner said in a release he had issued a directive to encourage insurance companies to "take proactive steps to better provide access to care for their customers" during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
This directive asks companies to waive what patients pay for in-network visits to offices, urgent care centers and emergency rooms when testing for coronavirus.
It also asks hospital networks to provide in-network rates to people carrying out-of-network health insurance for such procedures.
Sunday, March 8, 2020
No more Delta flights from Atlanta to Italy
Delta said over the weekend it would temporarily discontinue its flight from Atlanta to Rome starting on Wednesday in the latest repercussion the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus is having on international travel.
Dela issued a release on Sunday that said the route between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome would be suspended until the end of April.
Delta customers who are affected by changes can obtain a change fee waiver in order to book a new trip.
Four new presumptive cases in Georgia
The Georgia Department of Public Health announced an additional four "presumptive cases" of coronavirus in Georgia. In a press release from spokesperson Nancy Nydam, the department said testing was completed Sunday on the four cases, which are now being sent to the CDC for verification.
One new case is in Fulton County, another is in Cherokee County and two are in Cobb County bringing the number of presumptive cases up to six. The other two presumptive cases are in Fulton and Gwinnett counties.
Nydam said the new cases have no connection to one another and all individuals are hospitalized. The sources of their infections aren't yet known.
Cruise ship passengers
Gov. Brian Kemp announced that 34 Georgians and an unknown number of other Americans currently quarantined aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship off California will be coming to Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta in the coming days.
More than 3,000 people have been kept aboard the ship, which has not been permitted to dock in California after 21 people tested positive for coronavirus.
In a release, Kemp said that the passengers would undergo testing and be quarantined for "possible exposure to COVID-19. They are expected to arrive at Dobbins late Monday, March 9 or early Tuesday, March 10."
Dobbins is one of four military installations where the persons currently onboard the Grand Princess are going to be quarantined. The other locations include Travis AFB and MCAS Miramar in California and Lackland AFB in Texas.
A short time after the governor's announcement, Cobb County Commission Chairman Mike Boyce and Dr. Janet Memark, district health director for Cobb & Douglas Public Health, released a video to Cobb County citizens reassuring them that the operation at Dobbins is a self-contained "low-risk" operation that has been in the planning stages for weeks.
Saturday, March 7
Three more confirmed cases in Georgia
Three more cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the state - one each in Cobb, Fulton, and Polk counties. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Georgia to five.
The Polk County resident had previously been reported by health officials as being from Floyd County and has been in isolation at Floyd Medical Center in Rome.
In addition, the state department of health on Saturday said they were awaiting confirmation on a presumptive positive test for a resident in Gwinnett County and another resident in Fulton County.
Friday, March 6
Also accompanied by HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC director Robert Redfield, Trump, Azar and Redfield outlined details of the lab where the materials that go into the diagnostic test and vaccines are generated.
Wednesday, March 3
We discovered that the two confirmed coronavirus cases were from a 56-year-old father and his 15-year-old son from Fulton County.
In addition, their household includes a wife and a 12-year-old second child. The remaining family members were described by health officials as "slightly symptomatic," and were being monitored.
They were all instructed to self-quarantine at home.
Tuesday, March 2
Georgia's first coronavirus cases
In a late-night news conference, Gov. Brian Kemp announced the first two confirmed cases of coronavirus in Georgia.
The two cases were from a father and son in the same household, according to Gov. Kemp and Dr. Kathleen Toomey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health during the news conference.
Toomey said the two were suffering mild symptoms, that they had been diagnosed at a local health provider and instructed to self-quarantine at home.
Toomey said one of the family members had visited Italy and that the other person had contracted the illness upon the first family member's return to Georgia.
School systems prepare
Metro Atlanta school systems have started to announce plans regarding their response in the event of a widespread outbreak in the metro Atlanta area.
In a conversation with 11Alive's Jeff Hullinger, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen said they are monitoring the situation closely and, if necessary, they anticipate relying on its APS WeatherWise online learning platform.
Other metro Atlanta school systems have similar plans, which include varying forms of e-learning for their students.
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