Clarke County now has 54 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with seven residents dying from the disease, according to the latest numbers from the Georgia Department of Public Health.
In Georgia, 5,348 cases have been confirmed, with 163 deaths.
Those who have died in Clarke County range from age 60–89, according to DPH. At least four had underlying conditions making them more susceptible to the disease.
At least 15 University of Georgia students and employees have tested positive. They include one student worker who helped hundreds of fellow students move out of the dorms late last month, after UGA canceled in-person classes for the semester, according to the AJC. UGA said it has notified coworkers and students who checked out during times the student who tested positive was working.
Many probably saw this coming, with just four weeks between Gov. Brian Kemp's projected return date of Apr. 27 and the end of the Clarke County school year May 21, and no end to the coronavirus pandemic in sight, but Kemp announced today that he will keep public K-12 schools in Georgia closed for the rest of the 2019–2020 school year.
CCSD shifted to online learning three weeks ago and had planned to keep it up at least through the end of the month. The latest announcement, though, throws activities like proms and graduation ceremonies in doubt.
Athens bars and restaurants can now sell unopened bottles and cans of beer and wine to go during the coronavirus emergency after Athens-Clarke County Manager Blaine Williams signed an order Friday suspending certain provisions of the local alcoholic beverage ordinance.
The ACC Commission essentially shut down bars and restaurant dining rooms when it limited public gatherings to less than 10 people on Mar. 16, then officially closed them to the publicon Mar. 19, although restaurants can still do take-out and delivery.
Ordinarily, businesses with a license to serve alcohol on the premises can't sell it for consumption off premises, and vice versa.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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