Blis Savidge

Digital Producer

A graduate of the University of Georgia, Blis started her journalism career at WXIA 11Alive News. Two and a half years and multiple broadcasting awards later, she moved to New Zealand where she worked, traveled and bungee jumped off bridges for eight months.  Now back in The States, she is excited to get back to her passion of storytelling and keeping communities informed.

Georgia residents are growing more concerned as parks and recreation areas across the state remain crowded despite government orders to practice social distancing. And Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for more than 30 years, warns deaths from COVID-19 could top 100,000 in the United States.

Here is the latest coronavirus news from Georgia for Sunday, March 28, 2020.

Lee State Prison in a 2017 photo. Courtesy of The Albany Herald.
Courtesy of The Albany Herald.

The first death of an infant from COVID-19 was reported Saturday, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Only 1% of Georgia cases involve people age 17 and younger.

“There has never before been a death associated with COVID-19 in an infant," IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. "A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of death. We must do everything we can to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. If not to protect ourselves, but to protect those around us.”

COVID-19 spreads through Georgia Correctional Facilities

A 49-year-old Lee State Prison inmate who had previously tested positive for COVID-19 died at a hospital in Albany, officials with the Department of Corrections said Friday.

While it is unknown exactly how the virus made its way to the prison, Lee State Prison is near one of Georgia’s coronavirus “hotspots” in  Albany, where hospital systems have been overwhelmed with cases and deaths related to COVID-19.

 

MORE: Albany Mayor Bo Dorough Addresses The Coronavirus Outbreak In Southwest Georgia

 

 

Here is the latest coronavirus news from Georgia for Saturday, March 28, 2020.

Atlanta Opera costume shop employees begin making masks for healthcare workers.
The Atlanta Opera

Performances may have been canceled, but the Atlanta arts community isn’t sitting idly at home during the pandemic. 

 

The Atlanta Opera and the Alliance Theatre have both started using their unique resources and talents to make face masks for local healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus. 

Ashley Rodgers owns and operates an organic farm in Douglasville, Georgia.
Rodgers Greens and Roots

Farmer Ashley Rodgers grows vegetables on her organic farm in Douglasville, but in her 11 years farming she has rarely seen such uncertainty as restaurants closed their doors and farmers markets shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Disruptions amid the coronavirus spread couldn’t have come at a worse time for her small farm, Rodgers Greens and Roots, Rodgers said. 

APD

An Atlanta Police officer has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement released by APD March 21, marking the department’s first confirmed case.

 

The officer works in the department’s headquarters, which has been undergoing frequent cleanings by a decontamination company.

 

APD said that the officer has not been at work since March 11. After receiving confirmation of the positive test Friday, the department thoroughly cleaned the officer's work space and notified other colleagues.

 

507 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Georgia with 14 deaths as of noon March 21.

Publix looks to hire thousands of new employees by the end of March.
Publix Corporate

As the United States attempts to slow the spread of COVID-19, businesses around the country have shut their doors not knowing when they might open next. Nearly 1 in 5 households has already experienced a layoff or a reduction in work hours, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll

There are, however, a few industries that need more help now than ever, such as supermarkets. 

 

The southeastern supermarket chain Publix announced it is looking to hire thousands of employees across their stores by the end of March.

Bottles of hand sanitizer produced by Old Fourth Distillrey in Atlanta.
Old Fourth Distillery

Georgia distilleries are stepping up to combat shortages and keep workers employed by switching production from spirits to hand sanitizer. As panicked people rushed to stores to stock up as the coronavirus warning spread, aisles in grocery and convenience stores and gas stations were quickly cleaned out of essentials like cleaning supplies, toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

It's a constant point of discussion among local distillers, according to Georgia Distillers Association Vice President Jim Chasteen.

 

"Dot" is available for adoption through LifeLine Animal Project.
LifeLine Animal Project

With no signs of COVID-19 slowing down any time soon, businesses and organizations are scurrying to find their new normal. 

LifeLine Animal Project manages DeKalb and Fulton County Animal Services and is one of the largest animal rescue organizations in the metro Atlanta area. Just last month they took in a total of 1,094 animals. 

The organization is anticipating a drop in the number of its employees and volunteers, but not animals in need. Now, they are urgently seeking adopters and fosters to avoid what it described as an “imminent space crisis.”

 

Inmates in the Fulton County Jail System.
Fulton County Sheriff's Office

The Fulton County Jail System is now evaluating inmates with a release date for early release as well as postponing persons serving intermittent sentences, also known as “weekends,” Senior Public Information Officer Tracy Flanagan said. 

 

These new actions are just a few of many steps the jail system is making to protect its employees and inmates from COVID-19. 

 

iServe Ministries prepares to give out 30,000 pounds of food through its mobile food pantry to families in need.
Blis Savidge / GPB News

Families trickled into an empty parking lot Saturday morning in Commerce hoping to pick up free food. Before the sun had even come up, more than 100 families had gathered. Christian rap music blared from speakers set on a makeshift stage as attendees settled in and prepard to wait their turn. Some wore masks or pulled jackets up to cover their mouths and noses, in response to coronavirus fears, while others seemed unconcerned. 

Blis Savidge / GPB News

The University of Georgia is collaborating with Rhode Island based company EpiVax to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.

Director of the Center of Vaccine and Immunology Dr. Ted Ross will head up the project at his lab in Athens. He and his team have received the COVID-19 virus and are ready to begin their work in a high-security containment facility to produce and test a possible vaccine.

Gov. Brian Kemp declares public health emergency at a press conference on March 14.
GPB News

The declaration is the first in Georgia history and comes after the largest increase of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a 24-hour period to date. Cases doubled overnight, Gov. Brian Kemp said Saturday.

The number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus has risen to 66, with one death. Stay up to date with the latest numbers here.

A person checks their temperature.
Polina Tankilevitch

Gov. Brian Kemp has announced the construction of a second quarantine space for patients who test positive for COVID-19 and are unable self-isolate.

The facility will be located at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center Campus in Monroe County and will be able to accommodate 20 temporary housing units, according to a press release from the governor's office.

Students go about their daily business during spring break at Georgia Tech.
Blis Savidge / GPB News

The University System of Georgia announced a suspension of classes for two weeks at all institutions effective Monday, March 16.

The announcement comes shortly after Gov. Brian Kemp announced Georgia's first death related to COVID-19.

Students wait for a bus as concerns about Coronavirus grow.
Blis Savidge / GPB News

Emory University joined the growing list of schools around the country and opted to discontinue in person classes due to growing concerns over COVID-19.

There are 31 confirmed and presumed positive cases of COVID-19 in 12 counties around Georgia, according to the state health department.

A statement announcing Emory's decision was sent to all students, faculty and staff on Wednesday, March 11 by Interim Provost Jan Love.