In the Loop

  • Northeast Georgia COVID-19 Cases Appear to Be Stabilizing

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    The Northeast Health District added 14 cases of confirmed COVID-19 with the 1 p.m. Department of Public Health Daily Status Report on Wednesday, and the seven-day rolling average of added cases dropped to the level it has maintained for the last week.

    The 10-county region added an additional death, of a 45-year-old female in Greene County with known chronic conditions, bringing the total number of deaths to 48 and holding the seven-day rolling average of added deaths at 1.1.

    The Department of Community Health Long-Term Care Facility Report issued late on Tuesday showed one additional death at a Walton County nursing home.

    That report also showed an increase in COVID positive residents at the area’s long-term care facilities and an increase in the number of COVID positive staff.


  • DA Candidate Sues Kemp Over Delayed Election

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    Deborah Gonzalez, a candidate for district attorney in Athens, sued Gov. Brian Kemp today seeking to have the election returned to November 2020.

    Former district attorney Ken Mauldin resigned in February, making his chief assistant, Brian Patterson, acting DA and triggering a special election in November. At that time, Patterson and Gonzalez were already running for the seat. Mauldin had previously announced he would not seek re-election.

    Under a little-known state law passed in 2018, if Kemp appointed a replacement for Mauldin within six months of he election, the election would be pushed back two years. That deadline came and went two weeks ago.


  • Some Parks Reopen, Early Voting Starts Today


    In-person early voting started today across Georgia, and Athens-Clarke County is reopening some parks as well.

    Ben Burton, Memorial and Virginia Walker (formerly Trail Creek) parks have partially reopened, and Sandy Creek Park will do so on Tuesday. Click here for information on what activities are allowed and which facilities remain closed at each park. Gatherings are limited to 10 people, and masks are recommended.

    In addition to the previously mentioned parks, Dudley Park, Firefly Trail, the Greenway and trails at Sandy Creek Nature Center remain open.


  • Kemp Orders Bars to Stay Closed Through End of May

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    Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order Tuesday telling bars, nightclubs and live performance venues to stay closed at least through May 31.

    "I know this extension is difficult for many Georgia business owners and communities that have music venues," Kemp said. "However, we believe that waiting a little bit longer will enhance health outcomes and give folks the opportunity to prepare for safe reopening in the near future."

    Kemp closed bars, restaurants and many other types of businesses on Apr. 2 as the coronavirus pandemic spread (pre-empting an earlier local order in Athens that was passed Mar. 19). He allowed some—including restaurants, movie theaters, bowling alleys, tattoo parlors and hair and nail salons—to reopen late last month, if they took safety precautions.


  • EMS Oversight Committee Stops Meeting Rather Than Meet in Public


    ACC Attorney Judd Drake.

    The EMS Oversight Committee has held closed door meetings in violation of the Georgia Open Meetings Act since its inception. That’s based on Athens-Clarke County Attorney Judd Drake’s legal opinion, which he delivered to the committee in December.

    After hearing Drake’s opinion, the EMS Oversight Committee stopped meeting altogether, even virtually, rather than allow visitors to attend their meetings.

    This means throughout the coronavirus crisis, National EMS, the for-profit EMS provider in Athens, has had no formal oversight of its performance whatsoever.


  • Oconee Sheriff Candidates Agree on Roundabouts

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    Photo Credit: Sarah Bell

    James Hale (left) and Jimmy Williamson.

    Oconee County sheriff candidates James Hale and Jimmy Williamson said they didn’t want to get involved in a dispute between the School Board and the Board of Commissioners and would continue to provide deputies to direct traffic at school entrances if elected and asked to do so.

    At the same time, they said that having deputies in the roadway is dangerous and that they are in favor of road infrastructure changes, including roundabouts, that remove the deputies from the school entrances.

    Both said they would be obligated to their deputies to help protect them by getting them out of the roadways when possible.


  • Health District Seeks PPE Donations

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    Elise Stafford (right) of PruittHealth-Athens Heritage receives donated supplies from Elisabeth Wilson (left), District E healthcare coalition facilitator

    The Northeast Public Health District is now accepting donations of personal protective equipment to distribute to area health-care providers and long-term care facilities.

    Needed items include N-95 respirators, surgical masks, cloth face coverings, eye protection (face shields/goggles/glasses), gowns, gloves (latex free), disinfectant wipes, shoe covers and hand sanitizer.

    Contact Elisabeth Wilson at 706-286-4684 or with questions or to donate supplies.


  • UGA Faculty and Staff Facing Furloughs


    University of Georgia faculty, staff and administrators will be furloughed over the coming year under a plan to deal with a looming state budget shortfall.

    The Board of Regents approved the plan proposed by University System Chancellor Steve Wrigley in a called meeting conducted via conference call this morning.

    The system's lowest-paid employees are exempt, but most employees will have to take four or eight furlough days, depending on their salary. Higher-paid employees will take 16 unpaid days off. The highest—Wrigley and college and university presidents—will take 26 days, the equivalent of a 10% salary cut.


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