In the Loop

  • Kemp Closes Schools Through Apr. 24

    kemp web.jpg

    Gov. Brian Kemp has ordered all public K-12 schools in Georgia to remain closed through Friday, Apr. 24.

    "I am deeply grateful to State School Superintendent Richard Woods, the Georgia Department of Education, superintendents, and parents for keeping us informed and helping us make the right decision for our students," Kemp said in a news release"Throughout this process, we will continue to seek the advice of public health officials, school leaders, and families to ensure the health and safety of the educational community. As we approach April 24, 2020, we ask for continued patience and flexibility since circumstances may change, but we encourage families to stay strong and follow the guidance of federal, state, and local leaders in the weeks ahead."


  • Athens Isn't the Only Georgia City Closing Businesses and Telling People to Stay Home


    Savannah Mayor Van Johnson.

    Savannah Mayor Van Johnson issued a shelter-in-place directive Tuesday banning people from going out in public except for essential services while also urging the governor to order more restrictions than he did Monday to stem the spread of COVID-19.

    Savannah, which imposed an initial round of COVID-19 regulations Saturday, is following the Georgia Municipal Association’s recommendations that local governments declare a public emergency so that cities are consistent in their approach to the rapidly spreading virus.

    The Association County Commissioners of Georgia, meanwhile, issued a statement late Tuesday saying it will defer to what local officials think is best for their community. So far, at least 70 counties have declared a public health emergency. The group has already canceled its plans for a late April convention typically attended by nearly 1,000 elected officials and staffers.

    The push from the association of Georgia’s thousands of city officials comes as Gov. Brian Kemp faces criticism for not taking stronger action on Monday when he announced a two-week ban on gatherings that don’t adhere to the six-foot separation rule, the closing of bars and nightclubs and a stay home order for the state’s most medically fragile residents.


  • Gun Store Challenges Athens Shelter-in-Place Law


    Athens gun store Clyde Armory filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Clarke County Superior Court seeking to overturn Athens-Clarke County's recently passed shelter-in-place ordinance.

    The ordinance closes many businesses through Apr. 7 and orders residents to stay in their homes whenever possible, with exceptions like going to work, grocery shopping, outdoor recreation and seeking medical attention.

    While gun stores are not specifically listed among the "essential businesses" that are allowed to stay open, county officials have said gun stores are exempt because closing them would violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms. But the lawsuit, filed by local attorneys Mo Wiltshire and Kevin Epps on behalf of Clyde Armory, says that such statements don't carry the force of law.


  • First Coronavirus Death Reported in Athens as Oconee Residents Press for Restrictions


    The Northeast Health District reported the first COVID-19 death in Athens today.

    The victim was a 67-year-old man who had an underlying medical condition, according to public health officials. The elderly and people with pre-existing heart or lung disease or diabetes are most likely to die from COVID-19.

    Overall, positive coronavirus tests in Georgia jumped to 1,026 today, with 32 deaths. Sixteen of those cases were reported in Clarke County and three in Oconee County.

    Medical professionals and others are pressuring Oconee County commissioners to pass a "shelter in place" ordinance similar to the one Athens-Clarke County approved last week.


  • Schools Closed Through Apr. 7 and More Coronavirus News


    As coronavirus continues to spread in Georgia, Clarke County public schools will remain closed through Apr. 7, interim superintendent Xernona Thomas told parents and staff over the weekend.

    Thomas cited Athens-Clarke County's shelter-in-place ordinance, which took effect Mar. 20 and requires residents to stay in their homes unless going out for essential business, like work or grocery shopping, although the ordinance specifically exempts schools.

    CCSD had originally planned to close for the week of Mar. 16. Last week Gov. Brian Kemp closed all K-12 schools statewide until the end of the month.


  • Commission Approves 'Shelter in Place' Ordinance

    City Hall dome.jpg

    The Athens-Clarke County Commission unanimously approved an emergency measure Thursday night requiring residents to stay in their homes with some exceptions, hoping to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases spread in the county.

    They also voted to spend at least $3 million to somewhat alleviate the economic impact of closing many businesses to the public, which will throw many local residents out of work.

    But the public health threat of coronavirus was deemed so serious that it justified harsher measures to ensure people are practicing social distancing whenever possible.


  • Commission Will Vote on Mandatory Shelter-in-Place Ordinance Tonight

    City Hall dome.jpg

    After voting unanimously Monday to ask Athens residents to stay at home as much as possible, the Athens-Clarke County Commission will vote tonight on making that request mandatory—with certain exceptions.

    First things first: This is not a reason to panic. You'll still be able to do most everything you need to do, such as go to work (if your employer is open), get food, groceries, medicine and other supplies, go to the doctor, walk your dog, take a jog or care for relatives.

    Hospitals, health clinics, doctor's and dentist's offices, pharmacies and other health care-related facilities can remain open. So can grocery stories, convenience stores, produce stands, farmers markets, banks, hardware stores, auto supply and repair shops, gas stations, social services, shelters, electricians, plumbers, exterminators, delivery services, laundromats, dry cleaners, child care facilities, lawyers, real estate agents, accountants and media outles. Restaurants can continue to serve food for takeout and delivery.


  • Athens Transit Reduces Service but Is Now Free


    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    To reduce transmissions of coronavirus, Athens Transit is switching to a weekend level of service and will stop collecting fares through Apr. 7.

    Nine routes will operate from 7:30 a.m. until 9:45 p.m.: 1 (North Avenue), 2 (East Broad/Nellie B), 5 (Beechwood/Baxter Street), 6 (Hancock/Abbey West), 7 (Prince Avenue), 8 (Barber Street/Newton Bridge), 20 (West Broad/Atlanta Highway), 25 (Lexington/Gaines School) and 27 (Barnett Shoals/Gaines School).

    Passengers can only enter and exit the bus through the rear door to ensure social distancing between the driver and riders. No youths under 18 are allowed to ride unless accompanied by an adult.


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