Stephen Fowler

Political Reporter

Stephen Fowler is an award-winning reporter and photographer for GPB News covering state and local politics. His work focuses on voting and elections, state government, legal issues and the 2020 election.

He got his start with GPB's All Things Considered in Atlanta, where he helped create live shows everywhere from a brewery to a baseball game to a rooftop midway, was part of award-winning hurricane coverage and (occasionally) filled in as the afternoon news host. In college, he served as the Executive Digital Editor of The Emory Wheel and was part of the inaugural cohort of the Georgia News Lab, a yearlong investigative journalism program.

His reporting takes him many places, like a chicken processing plant in southeast Georgia, fishing in the Flint River, a soul food restaurant in the mountains and protests in the streets of downtown Atlanta. His stories have appeared on Marketplace, Here and Now, All Things Considered and NPR’s national newscasts, as well as ProPublica and the Columbia Journalism Review.

Ariel Schalit / AP

Georgia now has more than 100 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 and over 3,000 confirmed cases as we approach the end of March. Meanwhile, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms warns the city’s hospitals could be over capacity by the first week of May.

As of noon Tuesday, March 31, there are 3,817 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in nearly 140 of Georgia’s 159 counties with 108 reported deaths. Over 16,000 tests have been performed by state and commercial labs. The state also says 818 people have been hospitalized so far.

Here is the latest coronavirus news from Georgia for Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources will now begin enforcing social distancing at state parks and on lakes after reports of weekend parties large in scale and close in proximity.

Meanwhile, a Facebook post from a top aide to the governor decried “overreach” by cities and counties ordering tougher restrictions – the very same restrictions Gov. Brian Kemp encouraged local leaders to take.

This type of incongruous messaging has led to further calls for Kemp to issue a statewide edict to keep people indoors as cases of coronavirus continue to spread across the state.

As of 7 p.m. Monday, March 30, there are 3,032 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in over 120 of Georgia’s 159 counties with 102 reported deaths. Over 13,000 tests have been performed by state and commercial labs. The state also says 772 people have been hospitalized so far.

Here is the latest coronavirus news from Georgia for Monday, March 30, 2020.

Georgia Statewide Town Hall

In an unprecedented statewide televised town hall Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp explained his rationale for holding off on a statewide lockdown while urging Georgians to stay at home and follow social distancing guidelines to stop the virus’ spread.

Meanwhile, an outbreak in southwest Georgia is straining the community’s health care system and accounts for 10% of cases and 20% of deaths in the state.

Creative Commons

Gov. Brian Kemp has ordered the state's public school system to remain closed through April 24 out of concern for the spread of coronavirus. 

In an executive order, Kemp said that further action was needed to slow COVID-19's spread through the state. All public K-12 schools will be closed until April 24, 2020, with limited exceptions, such as meal preparation and distribution or other necessary functions.

Health worker testing patient for COVID-19
Phoebe Putney Health System

Some people are waiting over a week to get test results for COVID-19, hospitals around the state are already approaching maximum capacity of intensive care beds and the number of Georgians impacted by the virus grows daily.

As of 7 p.m. Thursday, March 26, there are 1,643 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in over 100 of Georgia’s 159 counties with 56 reported deaths. Nearly 9,000 tests have been performed by state and commercial labs. The state also says 509 people are hospitalized, a newly-reported measure of the virus' severity.

Here is the latest coronavirus news from Georgia for Thursday, March 26, 2020.

WellStar Health System has built temporary extensions to their emergency departments to handle the growing number of patients coming in with flu-like symptoms.
WellStar Health System

The attorney general’s office is warning Georgians to watch out for scammers and misinformation surrounding coronavirus and announced a new partnership to combat price gouging of essential supplies.

Attorney General Chris Carr said Tuesday his office is working with companies like Amazon, eBay, Walmart and Facebook directly to tackle complaints about sellers overcharging for goods or scammers taking advantage of consumers.

Speaking via Skype, Carr said there are a number of ways Georgians can protect themselves from rumors and scammers.


Georgia Department of Public Health

A COVID-19 outbreak in southwest Georgia has one of the highest per capita infection rates in the country as cases continue to rise. State elections officials are making it a little bit easier to minimize coronavirus exposure at the polls in May, and more Georgians are under some sort of restrictions as local governments step up to stop the spread of the virus.

As of 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, there are 1,387 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in more than half of Georgia’s 159 counties with 47 reported deaths. About 6,200 tests have been performed by state and commercial labs. The state also says 438 people are hospitalized, a newly-reported measure of the virus' severity.

Here is the latest coronavirus news from Georgia for Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said his office will mail an absentee ballot request application to 6.9 million active registered voters in Georgia for the May 19 primary election, making it easier for people to vote from home as coronavirus spreads.

In a statement, Raffensperger said the move is an extraordinary effort to ensure all Georgians can vote “without fear for their health.”

Stephen Fowler / GPB News

Gov. Brian Kemp is ordering “medically fragile” residents to stay at home while making everyone else keep their distance, but concerns about coronavirus has the city of Atlanta and others taking stronger action.

As of 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, there are 1,097 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in more than half of Georgia’s 159 counties with 38 reported deaths. About 5,500 tests have been performed by state and commercial labs. The state also says 361 people are hospitalized, a newly-reported measure of the virus' severity.

Here is the latest coronavirus news from Georgia for Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

GPB

Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday several statewide restrictions to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, ordering "medically fragile" Georgians to shelter in place for two weeks while closing bars and nightclubs and banning most public gatherings over 10 people.

In a Monday briefing, Kemp also empowered the Georgia Department of Public Health to close businesses or nonprofits that violate the order.

Kemp said the shelter in place order becomes effective noon Tuesday through noon Monday, April 6.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp took some steps to restrict the size of public gatherings and quarantine medically vulnerable Georgians Monday afternoon in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus. Meanwhile, local governments have taken various measures to create their own plans.

The Georgia Department of Public Health is releasing COVID-19 updates twice a day as more test results start rolling in.

As of 7 p.m. Monday, March 23, there are 800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in nearly 70 of Georgia’s 159 counties with 26 reported deaths. Just over 5,000 tests have been performed by state and commercial labs. Today's big jump in testing number is "reflective of improvement in electronic reporting efficiency from commercial laboratories," state health officials say. 

Here is the latest coronavirus news from Georgia for Monday, March 23, 2020.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

Every major metropolitan city in Georgia except Macon has restricted dining and public gathering to curb the spread of coronavirus, 42% of cases are in Georgians younger than 60 and funeral homes are making difficult changes to keep people safe.

The Georgia Department of Public Health is releasing COVID-19 updates twice a day as more test results start rolling in.

As of 7 p.m. Sunday, March 22, there are 620 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in more than a third of Georgia’s 159 counties with 25 reported deaths. Just over 4,000 tests have been performed by state and commercial labs.

Health worker testing patient for COVID-19
Phoebe Putney Health System

A member of the governor’s coronavirus task force is now the second lawmaker with COVID-19, the first cases of the illness have been reported inside a Georgia prison and state epidemiologists will travel to Albany to combat an outbreak. 

The Georgia Department of Public Health is releasing updates twice a day as more test results start rolling in.

As of 7 p.m. Saturday, March 21, there are 555 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia with 20 reported deaths. Just over 3,600 tests have been performed by state and commercial labs.

Worldwide, more than 280,000 cases and 12,000 deaths have been reported, as well as 87,000 reported recoveries.

Here is the latest coronavirus news from Georgia for Saturday, March 21, 2020.

Stephen Fowler / GPB News

Gov. Brian Kemp has no plans to enact a statewide quarantine or shutdown of public gatherings while cities and counties across the state place restrictions.

Meanwhile, the death toll from coronavirus rises as both the number of confirmed cases and testing capacity grows.

As of 7 p.m. Friday, March 20, there are 485 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia with 14 reported deaths. Just under 2,400 tests have been performed by state and commercial labs.

Worldwide, more than 250,000 cases and 10,000 deaths have been reported, as well as 87,000 reported recoveries.

Here is the latest coronavirus news from Georgia for Friday, March 20, 2020.

Elijah Nouvelage / AP

There are no plans currently to ban public events, institute a mandatory quarantine or shut down businesses in Georgia as both confirmed cases and testing capacity for COVID-19 continues to grow, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday.

However, the governor outlined a new reality for many Georgians in his digital briefing.

“As you all know, life has drastically changed over the past few weeks here in our state, across our country, and certainly across the world,” he said. “Our Georgia children are now at home, many Georgians are working remotely, our public gatherings are few and far between, and that’s for a very good reason."

As of noon Thursday, 10 people have died from COVID-19 with nearly 300 cases across 36 counties reported, according to information released by the Georgia Department of Public Health. Four deaths are in Dougherty County, two are in Fulton County, and Cobb, Early, Fayette and Floyd have reported one death each.

John Amis / AP

Read the latest coronavirus coverage from GPB News here.

The death toll from COVID-19 in Georgia has risen to 10, the Georgia General Assembly has been asked to self-quarantine after a state senator was diagnosed and Georgia health officials have finally released numbers for how many tests have been performed across the state.

As of noon Thursday, March 19, there were 287 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia, and just over 1,800 tests have been performed by state and commercial labs.

Here is the latest coronavirus news from Georgia for Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Georgia State Senate

Members of the Georgia General Assembly are being asked to self-quarantine until the end of the month after State Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) told leadership he tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday.

GPB News

An employee at one of Georgia's state prisons has tested positive for COVID-19, the Georgia Department of Corrections said Wednesday. 

While the GDC did not disclose which of the 34 state prisons the affected employee was assigned to, the department said there are no positive cases reported among the prison population. The GDC is working to mitigate spread of the virus, the statement added. 

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Congressman Doug Collins says Georgians need to follow precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, even if they feel healthy.

The Gainesville Republican was in self-quarantine earlier this month after being notified he might have come in contact with someone who tested positive for the illness at a conference.

He spoke to GPB News via FaceTime Tuesday afternoon to urge people who might still be following their normal routines to consider the impact on those around them.

This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

CDC

There are 197 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia as of noon Wednesday, March 18.

In total, more than 1,500 tests have been performed by state and commercial labs. Just under 450 have been done by the Georgia Department of Public Health while the majority of results, 1,065 tests, have come from other laboratories.

87% of the total COVID-19 tests done in Georgia have not come back as positive for the illness.

The daily update comes as health officials seek to ramp up testing capacity, setting up drive-through testing sites across the state.

Stephen Fowler / GPB News

The spread of coronavirus is changing the way we vote in Georgia, coming at a critical time for elections officials.

Voters are being encouraged to use mail-in absentee ballots and the March 24 presidential primary is postponed until May. Counties also could face a shortage of poll workers as people choose to stay home for their health.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Georgia has ordered thousands of pieces of life-saving medical equipment and is expanding state testing as officials continue to urge residents to stay home and minimize the spread of COVID-19.

In a digital briefing with reporters Tuesday, Gov. Brian Kemp warned of potential strains on Georgia’s health care system, including medical supply shortages.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger answered questions Monday about the now-postponed presidential primary, including the status of hundreds of thousands of ballots already cast.

In a live-streamed press conference, Raffensperger said that the rollout of the state’s new $104 million voting system was going well, but ultimately his office decided to delay in-person voting until the May 19 primary for state and federal offices as the threat of coronavirus spread continues to grow. 


Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Georgia’s presidential primary will be postponed until May 19, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Saturday, in an effort to protect poll workers and voters traveling to the polls.

In a statement, the top election official said it was a decision to mitigate higher risk, especially since Georgia’s poll workers average 70-years-old.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Gov. Brian Kemp has declared Georgia will be under a state of public health emergency to aid in combatting coronavirus, effective Saturday, March, 14.

The unprecedented action will require a special session of the Georgia General Assembly to ratify the action Monday morning, and comes following President Trump's declaration of a national emergency.

Stephen Fowler / GPB News

The Georgia General Assembly is suspending the 2020 legislative session indefinitely after Friday, March 13, out of an "abundance of caution and in the interest of health and safety" threatened by coronavirus.

The state House and Senate will finish out Crossover Day Thursday and then conduct legislative day 29 out of 40 before the hiatus.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Gov. Brian Kemp said people who are older or who have chronic health issues should avoid large crowds while encouraging many state employees to work from home as the footprint of coronavirus spreads in Georgia.

Kemp said the message to combat COVID-19 is largely the same, like wash your hands and avoid large events if you’re sick.

But the newest guidance from the governor’s office and top health leaders is for those who have the highest risk of illness need to take higher precautions.

Stephen Fowler / GPB News

Gov. Brian Kemp announced on Thursday Georgia has its first confirmed death from COVID-19. 

Kemp said the 67-year-old man was hospitalized at WellStar Kennestone Hospital after testing positive for COVID-19 March 7, and had underlying medical conditions.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

It’s Crossover Day at the Georgia State Capitol, where House and Senate lawmakers will race against the clock to get legislation out of one chamber or the other by day’s end.

Day 28 of the legislative session will feature debate on dozens of bills that are fresh from committee hearings, as well as higher-profile measures that have dominated the Gold Dome.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

After a marathon hearing in Athens Wednesday, the Georgia State Election Board has ordered Athens-Clarke County to cease using hand-marked paper ballots and return to using the ballot-marking devices or face further sanctions.

The five-member board, chaired by Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also voted to impose a $2,500 fine to cover part of the costs of investigating the violations, plus a $5,000 a day fine if the switch is not made. Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said her staff would make the change Thursday morning.

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