Two people in Athens have been tested positive for coronavirus, according to an Athens-Clarke County commissioner.
Commissioner Russell Edwards told Flagpole that a public health official told him Saturday night about the positive tests, and posted that information on social media, which quickly spread.
Flagpole has not been able to confirm the report. When reached by phone, District 10 public health director Whitney Howell declined to comment.
Mayor Kelly Girtz was also unable to confirm the report. However, he said that given Athens' population and status as a popular destination for visitors, it was only a matter of time before coronavirus made an appearance.
"We just know that it's coming," Girtz said. He made similar comments earlier today in a joint statement with Athens' state legislators after a meeting with hospital officials.
Georgia is postponing early voting in the Democratic presidential primary and pushing Election Day back from Mar. 24 to May 19 due to fears of voters and poll workers spreading coronavirus.
May 19 is also the date of Democratic and Republican primaries for seats in Congress and the state legislature, as well as nonpartisan local races such as the Athens-Clarke County Commission and Clarke County Board of Education.
Early voting will resume at some point before May 19, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In addition, Mayor Kelly Girtz, state Reps. Spencer Frye (D-Athens), Houston Gaines (R-Athens) and Marcus Wiedower (R-Watkinsville), and Sens. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) and Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) issued a statement today saying that they except to see COVID-19 cases in Athens.
The University of Georgia announced today that it will be suspending classes for two weeks and told students not to come back from spring break or leave campus Friday.
From USG Executive Vice Chancellor Teresa MacCartney:
The State Elections Board voted today to sanction Athens-Clarke County for using paper ballots instead of the new voting machines the state recently sent Georgia counties.
After a hearing held at UGA that lasted nearly eight hours, the state board voted to require the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections to cover the $2,500 cost of the investigation into the decision. The state board will also fine the local board $5,000 for each day it continues to use paper ballots.
ACC could have faced a fine of over $5 million—$5,000 for each of the more than 1,000 paper ballots that had already been cast.
The qualifying period to run for local, state and federal offices ended today. Here's a list of who's running in Athens. (D) and (R) indicate party affiliation; most local races are nonpartisan. Asterisks indicate incumbents.
Athens-Clarke County Commission
District 2: Mariah Parker*
District 4: Michael Stapor, Allison Wright*
District 6: Jesse Houle, Jerry NeSmith*
District 8: Andrea Farnham, Kamau Hull, Andrea Farnham
District 10: Mike Hamby*, Knowa Johnson
Antonio Derricotte will be the principal of the Athens high school where he graduated.
Derricotte, one of two acting co-principals at Cedar Shoals High School, has been named principal at Cedar Shoals High School by interim superintendent Xernona Thomas. The Clarke County Board of Education approved the move at its Thursday meeting.
"Mr. Derricotte is student-focused and values collaboration," Thomas said in a news release. "I am confident he and the Cedar Shoals team will work very well together to set high expectations and provide strong academic instruction and support for students."
Thousands of readers to infinity and beyond voted in this 10th year of the Flagpole Athens Favorites contest. Congratulations to all of the Athens businesses who won or were chosen runner-up in over 100 categories!
Thanks to the out of this world Flagpole staff who made this issue possible. The cosmic theme, layout and designs were created by Larry Tenner and his crew, Chris McNeal and Cody Robinson. Anita Aubrey and Jessica Mangum are the hard-working ground control of the Flagpole advertising department. The intergalactic photos of our space model, Mark Weathersby, were taken by Jason Thrasher. A special thanks to our E.T. model, Scarlett Alston, for her fierce poses. Photos of our celestial winners were captured by Flagpole photographer Whitley Carpenter.
A big thanks to the terrestrial photo locations: Hotel Indigo, Half-Shepherd Market and Cheese Shop, Marti’s at Midday, The Law Office of Sam Thomas, Creature Comforts and Cine.
And finally, congratulations to all the winners! A full list is below.
Allison Wright will run for a third term on the Athens-Clarke County Commission, she announced today.
Wright, a medical illustrator, has represented District 4, the Five Points area, since 2013.
In her announcement, she took partial credit for a number of initiatives during those seven-plus years, including fare-free transit for children, seniors and the disabled; affordable housing; police body cameras; and addressing discrimination at downtown bars.
She said she wants to continue to expand transit, provide training on discrimination and sexual assault to bar employees, and address poverty and the aging population.
Athens-Clarke County has received a $750,000 U.S. Department of Transportation grant to help bring commercial air service to Athens Ben Epps Airport.
An airline hasn't flown out of Ben Epps since 2014, when Congress cut the Essential Air Service subsidy for small airports.
County officials are currently negotiating with American Airlines to fly 50-passenger jets twice a day between Athens and Charlotte, according to Commissioner Jerry NeSmith, who serves on the Airport Authority. ACC is also offering other incentives, such as no landing fees for the first year.
"I'm confident we can convince them to do this," NeSmith said.
Whitehead Road Elementary assistant principal Laura Kraus will serve as interim principal at Chase Street Elementary through the end of the school year, Clarke County School District interim superintendent Xernona Thomas announced today.
Kraus will replace Nikki Hittle, who abruptly resigned Monday.
"As a strong instructional leader who understands the importance of building a collaborative culture, Mrs. Kraus enjoys and values making connections with students and families," Thomas said in a news release and note to parents. "I am confident in her ability to lead the Chase Street Elementary community until a permanent replacement is selected."
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