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Jessica Gurell

GPB News understands it’s a stressful time and we want to help provide some of the best practices to help protect you and your family, as well as the broader community.

 

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.

Brandi Kelsey

Every day, Emmaus House in Downtown Savannah feeds warm meals to around 150 people in their dining hall. Volunteers help serve them, and everyone who arrives for a meal gets one. But that process looks a little different these days.

 

“We just hand out these bags through our kitchen door. And that way we don't have clients inside,” said Ariana Berksteiner, the soup kitchen’s executive director. 

 

Much of the advice to stop coronavirus, such as avoiding others, washing hands and sanitizing surfaces, might be tough to follow for those who don’t have homes or rely on services like soup kitchens. On top of that, outreach groups like Emmhaus House are feeling the strain of supply shortages and strict health precautions.


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.

  • Georgia Sees Two More Deaths From COVID-19
  • Georgia Department Of Labor Eases Requirements For Unemployment Claims
  • Savannah Restaurants, Bars: 'We Will Not Survive' Without Government Action


Phoebe Putney Health System

More drive-thru testing facilities are opening in some Georgia communities but concerns remain over whether many of the state's residents have access to those tests.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 1500 Georgians have been tested, the Georgia of Department of Public health revealed in a daily update.

Ross Williams is a reporter for the Georgia Recorder who published a piece about COVID-19 testing in Georgia. GPB's Rickey Bevington spoke to him about that story.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.


Emily Jones / GPB News

A group of restaurant and bar owners in Savannah is asking Gov. Brian Kemp for help getting through the coronavirus crisis.

 

In an open letter, the owners requested specific action, including immediate unemployment benefits for furloughed workers, business interruption insurance, and rent and loan relief for those affected.

 

Green Truck Pub owner Whitney Shephard Yates said restaurants are trying to stay afloat and pay their employees despite seeing far fewer customers.

 

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. 

Georgia Aquarium Jellyfish Webcam

Although the Georgia Aquarium may be closed to visitors during the coronavirus outbreak, its fish and wildlife can still be observed online.

The world's largest aquarium, based in Atlanta, closed last Saturday to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but people may stream live webcams of their exhibits, including their piranhas, sea lions, beluga whales, penguins, and jellyfish.

Online visitors suffering from social distancing claustrophobia can tune into the fish feeds around the clock.

GPB News

Across Georgia and the nation, schools and businesses are closed, major events have been canceled and millions of people have been ordered to work from home to help mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. Life as we know it has been disrupted. 

Georgia Public Broadcasting’s new series “What You Need To Know: Coronavirus” provides fact-based information on getting through the virus with health and sanity intact. 

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.

Son Preston Wysocki (left) and mother Heather Wysocki visit the grave of brothers/son Austin Hart and Dustin Hart Saturday, March 14, 2020.
Ellen Eldridge / GPB News

Staying home while sick is exactly what gets addicts into trouble. The illness is addiction, and the cure for many recovering from drug and alcohol addiction is people. They fear what isolation could mean to their sobriety.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Two people have died in Southwest Georgia from COVID-19, taking the statewide tally of deaths from the pandemic to three.

A 42-year-old woman and a 69-year-old-woman both died in an Albany hospital, the Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed Wednesday. In addition to testing positive for COVID-19, each had existing medical conditions.

Both patients were people already being treated at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany for COVID-19 symptoms while waiting on their test results.

Donna Lowry / GPB News

Wednesday on Political Rewind, Gov. Brian Kemp has signed a mid-year budget funding the state through June that includes $100 million earmarked for fighting the coronavirus.

An additional $5 million is to go to support for rural hospitals as they contend with the disease.


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.

Bytemarks / Flickr

The Georgia Department of Labor is taking steps to make it easier for workers to access unemployment services.

The department is waiving any in-person requirements for the services it provides, including filing an unemployment claim without reporting to a career center.

 


Google images

Three residents and one employee of a senior living community in Canton are sick, and roughly 50 people are isolated, after COVID-19 appeared earlier this month.

Officials at the Retreat at Canton, a Phoenix Senior Living community, said Monday the coronavirus tests are presumptive positive, meaning the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not yet confirmed them.

AP

A coalition of immigration attorneys, judges and employees of Immigration Customs and Enforcement, or ICE, are asking that the nation’s immigration courts be suspended until coronavirus is no longer a danger.  

GPB News

Across Georgia and the nation, schools and businesses are closed, major events have been canceled and millions of people have been ordered to work from home to help mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus — or COVID-19. Life as we know it has been disrupted. People are scared and looking for solid information.

Georgia Public Broadcasting’s new series “What You Need To Know: Coronavirus” provides fact-based information on getting through the virus with health and sanity intact. 

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.

  • Staying Home Now Will Save Lives, Says Georgia's Top Public Health Official
  • Atlanta City Council Holds First Remote Meeting
  • Albany Becomes Focal Point For COVID-19 Cases In Georgia


Dr. Kathleen Toomey
Stephen Fowler/ GPB News

Georgia should expect many more COVID-19 cases in the coming days, warns the state's top public health official. 


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.

GPB

As efforts to contain the coronavirus continue to ramp up across the country, rumors and false information also continue to spread. In an effort to separate the falsehood and half-truths from the facts, we have started a new column to address some of the most pressing questions and concerns.

 

Donna Lowry / GPB News

We were joined by Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner, on Political Rewind Tuesday at the beginning of our show. We discussed Georgia's coronavirus response so far.

In one of his first acts since being granted new emergency powers by the General Assembly, Gov. Brian Kemp ordered all public schools in Georgia to shut down for the remainder of March. Before his order Monday, state universities had announced all instruction for the remainder of the current semester would be conducted online.


Sandy Springs Mayor's Office

Hospital networks across the state are not currently overwhelmed with coronavirus patients, according to Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul.

Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order to close all public schools in Georgia beginning Wednesday. Schools from elementary through college and technical schools are included in the order to remained closed from March 18 through March 31.

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. 

Donna Lowry / GPB News

The Georgia General Assembly has backed Gov. Brian Kemp’s declaration of a public health emergency for Georgia.

The move came during a special called session of the chambers and gives Kemp unprecedented, broad powers to assist health and emergency management officials with deploying resources for the “mitigation and treatment of COVID-19.”

Jeremy Polston / Georgia Ports Authority

Georgia's ports remain open for business but are taking precautions against the spread of the coronavirus, officials said Monday.

The Georgia Ports Authority has postponed in-person meetings and suspended employee travel, port tours and non-essential visitors.

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