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:
It was 97 degrees in Athens yesterday. You think that's bad? Just wait.
Greenhouse gas emissions are projected to cause an 8-degree jump in global temperatures over pre-industrial levels, and a group called the Union of Concerned scientists calculated what that would mean for individual counties..
Clarke County averages 61 days a year with a heat index above 90. (Sort of like wind chill, the heat index combines the temperature and humidity level into a number that expresses how hot it feels.) Nine days a year on average, it rises above 100 degrees, and twice, it hits 105.
If nothing is done about climate change, the heat index will hit 90 110 times a year by mid-century, and it'll hit 100 six times as often as it does now. For nearly a month out of the year—29 days—the heat index will be 105 or above.
Photo Credit: pruddle/Wikimedia Commons
The SEC has lifted its ban on selling alcoholic beverages at sporting events, but the average Dawg still won't be able to throw back a cold one in the stands at Sanford Stadium.
The new policy, approved Friday, requires conference members that wish to sell alcohol to set aside designated areas for consumption and prohibits drinking in seating areas.
"Our policy governing alcohol sales has been a source of considerable discussion and respectful debate among our member universities in recent years," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. "As a conference, we have been observant of trends in the sale and consumption of alcohol at collegiate sporting events and have drawn upon the experiences and insights of our member schools which have responsibly established limited alcohol sales within controlled spaces and premium seating areas."
Photo Credit: Ebyabe/Wikimedia Commons
Children growing up in Athens today won't have to move to Florida when they retire. Florida is coming to us.
A study recently published in Nature Communications by researchers from the University of Maryland and North Carolina State University modeled how the climate will change in 540 North American cities by 2080, then found cities where the current climate matches the model. For the average city, the climate 60 years from now will be like the climate is today more than 500 miles to the southwest. For those who don't want to wade through the entire study, Earther interviewed co-author Matthew Fitzpatrick.
If nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Athens' climate will most closely resemble that of Leesburg, FL's. Located near Tampa and Orlando, summers in Leesburg are now 2.4 degrees warmer and 78 percent wetter than in Athens.
Photo Credit: National Weather Service
Clarke County public schools will be closed Thursday and the University of Georgia will delay opening, officials announced as Hurricane Michael rampaged through the state Wednesday night.
UGA will open at 10 a.m., with the first classes starting at 11 a.m.
Gov. Nathan Deal extended a state of emergency to Clarke County on Wednesday afternoon. Forecasts call for 3–5 inches of rain and winds up to 30–40 miles per hour in Athens later tonight and Thursday morning, possibly downing trees and causing power outages.
Photo Credit: Athens-Clarke County Police Department
Public schools in Clarke and Oconee counties will be closed again Thursday, as any snow that melted and did not evaporate today will refreeze overnight, making roads treacherous.
Both the Georgia Department of Transportation and Athens-Clarke County government said crews have been working day and night to clear the roads, but warned people to stay home.
The ACC Police Department said officers had worked 84 wrecks today as of 3:45 p.m.
The Oconee County Sheriff's Office posted a similar, if more humorous, warning on Facebook:
Win or lose, Athens-Clarke County police want you to know there will be no riots in the streets of Athens tonight after Georgia plays in the college football national championship game.
The department called a news conference earlier this afternoon to discuss plans for public safety downtown. The game is in Atlanta, but local police expect a crowd along the lines of a typical UGA home game—potentially tens of thousands of people, according to Sgt. Epifiano Rodriguez.
Although her street was blocked by fallen trees, Flagpole photo intern Nicole Adamson ventured out Tuesday to snap some photos of damage along West Lake Drive.
Athens-Clarke County crews have removed many trees from roadways, but those that remain are entangled in power lines that must be removed by utility workers first. (Only about 1,000 Georgia Power customers in Athens remain without electricity.)
Apparently we have some local finalists for the Darwin Awards, because ACC felt the need to issue a press release warning people not to try to cut or remove those trees, or allow children to play around them.
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