Coronavirus:

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    UPDATE [7 p.m.]: The Georgia Department of Public Health on Friday night reported one more death due to COVID-19 since noon, bringing the state’s toll to 65. The state had topped 2,000 cases at noon, and the DPH recorded an additional 197 cases since then, bringing the total to 2,198. Of those patients, 607 are hospitalized, which is about 27.6% of all cases. Friday’s update was the first time the DPH had released data on where people died. Dougherty County led the count with 13 deaths, followed by Fulton with 12 and Cobb and Lee each with five. Nearly 10,000 tests have been conducted across the state. About 22.2% of those returned positive results. Chattahoochee and Hart counties recorded their first cases Friday, bringing the number of counties affected to 104. Habersham had its only case removed, and it’s unclear whether that was a false positive or if it was moved to a different county’s count. Fulton County saw the largest increase in new cases with 40, followed by DeKalb at 38 and both Cobb and Gwinnett with 19. Fulton still leads the state in cases with 347. As of 7 p.m. Thursday, there were 219 cases in DeKalb, 163 in Cobb, 121 in Gwinnett, 107 in Bartow, 53 in Clayton, 50 in Cherokee, 44 in Henry, 32 in Douglas, 30 in Hall, 22 in Fayette, 21 in Forsyth, 16 in Rockdale, 15 in Newton and 13 in Paulding. Patients between the ages of 18 and 59 make up the majority of cases at 56%, while those 60 and older make up 34% of cases. The DPH does not release compiled data on how many patients have recovered. For the full update, click here. ORIGINAL STORY [noon]: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia surpassed 2,000 Friday as the death toll continues to climb. At 2,001, the cases reported by state health officials have increased 150% since the start of this week. On Monday, the number of confirmed cases across the state was fewer than 1,000. At least 64 Georgians have died as a result of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to the latest data from the Georgia Department of Public Health. Eight more deaths were reported since late Thursday night.   Of those infected, less than one-third are hospitalized across the state, according to health officials.  » COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia For most, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and those with existing health problems are at risk of more severe illnesses, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover in a matter of weeks. » DASHBOARD: Real-time stats and charts tracking coronavirus in Georgia » MORE: Map tracks coronavirus globally in real time The virus has now affected two-thirds of the counties in the state, with the greatest impact to those in metro Atlanta. Georgia ranks 10th nationally in number of confirmed cases. It is sixth in number of deaths caused by COVID-19, according to the latest available data. About 3.2% of Georgians who have tested positive have died. » AJC IN-DEPTH: In hard-hit Georgia, virus expected to linger Habersham County reported its first case Friday and Upson reported its first two, further widening the gap between counties affected by the virus and those untouched. Only 56 of Georgia’s 159 counties do not currently have coronavirus cases.   The situation in Dougherty County is worsening. The southwest Georgia county of about 90,000 people reported 29 new cases since late Thursday night, according to health officials. Its total of 193 confirmed cases falls behind the much larger Fulton County but ahead of all other metro Atlanta counties. Considering the latest figures, Dougherty has the state’s highest concentration per capita of patients known to be infected with COVID-19.  » MORE: City under siege: Coronavirus exacts heavy toll in Albany Of the metro Atlanta counties, there are now 307 cases of the virus in Fulton, 181 in DeKalb, 144 in Cobb, 102 in Gwinnett, 98 in Bartow, 55 in Carroll, 46 each in Cherokee and Clayton, 40 in Henry, 27 in Douglas, 24 in Hall, 16 in Rockdale, 15 in Newton and 12 in Paulding. The number of confirmed cases has multiplied rapidly as the virus spreads and testing capacity has ramped up. As of Friday, nearly 10,000 tests had been conducted across the state, and about 20% of those returned positive results.  As numbers balloon, Gov. Brian Kemp has renewed his call for Georgians to stay home and practice social distancing. At a town hall broadcast Thursday night, Kemp urged residents to heed directives to avoid more restrictive measures, like a statewide stay-at-home mandate. » RELATED: Kemp urges Georgians to heed virus warnings but balks at drastic steps Bars and nightclubs remain closed across the state, many public gatherings are banned, and the elderly and medically fragile are ordered to shelter in place. » PHOTOS: Metro Atlanta adjusts to shifts in daily life amid coronavirus crisis Many Georgia cities, including several in metro Atlanta, have issued their own stay-at-home orders to residents, shutting down nonessential businesses and imposing curfews. On Thursday, Kemp extended the closure of public schools into late April. » MORE: Georgia families brace after Kemp extends closure of schools Those who believe they are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility. Georgians can also call the state COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681 to share public health information and connect with medical professionals.  — Please return to AJC.com for updates.
  • The University of North Georgia says it will adopt a distance-learning model for the remainder of this year’s spring semester classes.   From the UNG website… The University System of Georgia (USG) has determined that all 26 institutions, including UNG, will move to online instruction for all courses for the remainder of the semester with extremely limited exceptions. This action comes following last week’s decision to suspend instruction for two weeks to ensure business and instructional continuity, and to allow further state assessment of COVID-19. In the end, we want to ensure that our faculty, staff and students are safe; that we do our part to help stem the spread of the coronavirus in Georgia; and that we fulfill our mission to graduate our students even in the face of these challenging times.  Based on the March 16 announcement from the USG                  , students will not be allowed to return to campus until they receive permission from the university, which will be forthcoming soon. Additionally, residence halls will be closed, with minimal exceptions for students unable to return home or who cannot find housing elsewhere. We will make every effort to accommodate those students who are unable to depart campus.  We will send specific instructions to students regarding when they can return to campus to retrieve their belongings from residence halls. Students will be expected to follow those instructions. We will provide additional information on refunds for housing, dining, and other services, as we receive additional guidance from the USG. Students should wait for university officials to contact them.  The university will remain open, with minimal staff physically on-site, to ensure continuity of certain services.  We know that students, faculty and staff will have many questions based on this announcement. We will be providing more detailed information to you frequently in the days ahead. 
  • With schools in Athens and around the state not re-opening until April 27 at the earliest, the Clarke County School District continues to provide meals for students.  From the Clarke Co School District… The CCSD will provide free meals for students beginning Tuesday, March 17. Meals will be available for pick up during weekdays at two locations (Hilsman Middle and Oglethorpe Ave. Elem) and delivered to select neighborhoods via school bus (along existing bus routes).  Click here to view community food resources. Pick-up Locations (Hilsman Middle and Oglethorpe Ave. Elementary) Meals will be available for pickup between 8:00 a.m. – Noon at the following locations:  Hilsman Middle School – 870 Gaines School Rd, Athens, GA 30605  Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School – 1150 Oglethorpe Ave, Athens, GA 30606 Bus Delivery Routes to Select Neighborhoods (along existing bus routes) - Updated 3/26/20 Following are links to the delivery schedule to select neighborhoods. A CCSD school bus will make scheduled stops to deliver meals. Click on a neighborhood location to view the bus delivery routes:  Route 1: BETHEL HOMES, PARKVIEW, ROCKSPRINGS & BROAD ACRES  Route 2: VINE & HERMAN ST., NELLIE B., SPRING VALLEY ESTATES, HALLMARK MHP  Route 3: HIGHLAND GREENS MHP, PINEWOOD MHP, & COUNTRY CORNERS MHP  Route 4: PINEWOOD APTS, CLARKE GARDEN APTS, TOWNE VIEW PL  Route 5: ATHENS GARDEN, DEER PARK, FIREWOOD, & BIG OAK CIR  Route 6: KNIGHTS BRIDGE MHP, STONEHENGE, CREEKSIDE MANOR, INTOWN SUITES, & OGLETHORPE ELEM  Route 7: COLUMBIA BROOKSIDE, UNIVERSITY GARDENS, SYCAMORE DRIVE  Route 8: SOUTH RIDGE, ROLLING RIDGE, & KATHWOOD  Route 9: HIGHLAND PARK & COLLEGE GLEN  Route 10: WESTCHESTER & TALLASSEE  Route 11: KNOLLWOOD APTS, OLD HULL RD. & FOURTH ST.  Route 12: SPRING VALLEY MHP, SARTAIN DR,& WINTERVILLE RD  Route 13: GARNETT RIDGE, CHATHAM PARK, VINEYARD  Route 14: BURKLAND DR, DANIELSVILLE RD., FOREST ACRES, FREEMAN DR.  Route 15: CREEKSTONE, NORTH BLUFF, SLEEPY HOLLOW MHP  Route 16: CAMPBELL DR., NELLIE MAE DR. Service Guidelines To ensure the safety of all our students, we request the following guidelines be followed:  Students must be present to get their meals.  At this time, adult meals are not available for purchase.  Students must take the entire meal – choices will not be provided.  Follow the directions of the meal service monitor. Be patient as a line may develop, but we will serve students in a timely and safe fashion.  Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.  Avoid close contact with people who are sick.  Cough or sneeze into an elbow or use a tissue and place immediately in the trash.
  • Athens-Clarke County has been served the lawsuit filed by Athens gun shop owner Andrew Clyde. Clyde, who is a candidate for Congress in Georgia’s 9th District, has filed suit seeking an injunction of enforcement of a 24-7 shelter in place order issued by Athens-Clarke County Commissioners last week. His attorney says the coronavirus-inspired measure is vague and overly broad and, even though it does not appear to order the closure of gun shops, is adversely impacting Clyde’s business on Atlanta Highway in Athens. Attorney Mo Wiltshire says lawyers are trying to arrange a hearing via video conference, and he says other Athens business owners are also expressing concerns about the County’s coronavirus ordinance. 
  • The latest numbers from the state Labor Department do not reflect the impact of Athens’ coronavirus-inspired economic lockdown: the February jobs report shows a 3.3 percent unemployment rate for Clarke, Oconee, Oglethorpe, and Madison counties. The metro-Athens jobless rate was 3.1 percent in January. From the Ga Dept of Labor… According to preliminary data, the four-county metropolitan statistical area (MSA) also showed a jump in employment for the month and the year.    In Athens, the unemployment rate increased 0.1 percentage points in February, reaching at 3.3 percent. A year ago, the rate was 3.7 percent.    The labor force increased in February by 967 and ended the month with 100,244. That number is up 510 when compared to February of 2019.    Athens ended February with 96,600 jobs. That number increased by 700 from January to February, but went down by 300 when compared to the same time last year.    Athens finished the month with 96,973 employed residents. That number increased by 889 over the month and is up by a significant 883 when compared to the same time a year ago.    The number of unemployment claims went down by about 25 percent in February. When compared to last February, claims were up by about 41 percent.   The four-county MSA includes Clarke, Madison, Oconee, and Oglethorpe counties.
  • A woman from Athens and a man from Banks County man are among the nine people facing insurance fraud charges: Jillian Anderson, Terrance Bradshaw, and the others are accused of running a food poisoning scam, filing bogus insurance claims after falsely claiming to have contracted food poisoning at north Georgia restaurants.  From the Ga Insurance Commissioner’s Office…   Special Agents with the Criminal Investigations Division of the Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner’s Office have recently taken out warrants on ten individuals who are believed to have played a role in a food poisoning insurance fraud ring. One suspect, Christian Walls, was arrested on March 17 by the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office and remains in the Gwinnett County Jail facing a $22,400 bond. What started as an investigation into two subjects expanded into what was discovered to be a ring of individuals allegedly using the guise of a food allergy compliant at local restaurants throughout six Georgia Counties to defraud medical insurance companies. The individuals would state they ordered chicken dishes, but found shrimp in their food, leading to an allergic reaction. They would then file false insurance claims and submit false medical records and medical billing statements to obtain money from insurance companies for medical treatment that was not sought. The medical records and medical billing statements were allegedly falsified and altered to reflect the name of the suspects, their date of birth, and multiple different medical facilities. “This elaborate and carefully orchestrated ring stole nearly $25,000 from Georgia insurance companies. These types of schemes have proven to lead to higher insurance rates for every family in our state,” said Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King. “If you have any information on the whereabouts of these individuals, please call our Criminal Investigations Division at 404-463-6363.” The following warrants were obtained on March 9, 2020: Spalding County Kevion Young (DOB 8/24/1992) - 1 count Insurance Fraud; 1 count Forgery  Clayton County David Lilly (DOB 9/5/1992) - 1 count Insurance Fraud; 1 count Forgery  Cobb County Alicia Nelson (DOB 5/27/1992) - 1 count Insurance Fraud; 1 count Forgery Demond Hewlett (DOB 7/19/1996) - 1 count Insurance Fraud; 1 count Forgery Ricardo Hamlin (DOB 11/1/1994) - 1 count Insurance Fraud; 1 count Forgery Mikayla Flonnoy (DOB 2/18/1992) - 1 count Insurance Fraud; 1 count Forgery  Gwinnett County Bradley Bland (DOB 5/14/1992) - 1 count Insurance Fraud; 1 count Forgery Christian Walls (DOB 5/16/1991) - 1 count Insurance Fraud; 1 count Forgery (In Custody)  The follow warrants were obtained on March 11, 2020:  Clarke County Jillian Anderson (DOB 8/29/1992) - 1 count Insurance Fraud  Banks County Terrance Bradshaw (DOB 11/25/1991) - 1 count insurance Fraud; 1 count Forgery    Insurance fraud is a felony punishable by imprisonment for two to ten years, or by a fine of up to $10,000.00, or both. To report suspected insurance fraud, contact the Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner’s Office at 800-656-2298. Callers can choose to remain anonymous. ###   
  • The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is looking for suspects in vehicle thefts reported from an auto sales lot in Commerce.    From the Jackson Co Sheriff’s Office…   Between 03/20/2020 and 03/23/2020, three vehicles were stolen from Gary Motors & Auto Parts in Commerce, GA. Two of the vehicles have been recovered in Banks County. A 2008 Tan GMC 4-door truck is still missing. Below are actual pictures of the truck. The fender with the damage has been replaced with a black fender. The vehicle has been entered on GCIC. Any contact with this vehicle please contact Investigator Joey Chastain @ 706-387-6042
  • Oconee County Commissioners have declared a local state of emergency as cases of coronavirus continue to spread across Georgia.  From the Oconee Co government website… The Oconee County Board of Commissioners has issued a Local Emergency Order under the Emergency Management Ordinance, in accordance with Governor’s Kemp’s executive order, which remains in effect through April 6. The Oconee County Emergency Order will take effect at 5 p.m., Thursday, March 26, and remain in effect until Monday, April 6, at noon. When Governor Kemp issued a state-wide state of emergency, Oconee County’s Emergency Management Ordinance was activated, placing Oconee County in a local state of emergency. During this state of emergency under this order: Restaurants and other eating establishments within Oconee County will cease offering dine-in and/or outdoor/patio service, and may continue to prepare and offer food to customers through delivery, takeout, and/or drive-thru service only. This is in accordance with guidance provided by the Department of Public Health: https://www.oconeecounty.com/DocumentCenter/View/9985/COVID-19-Guidance-for-Restaurants_3232020-. All persons ordered by the Department of Public Health to isolate, quarantine, or shelter in place within their homes or place of residence shall comply with such executive order or administrative order. In accordance with the Governor’s executive order, the following populations are specifically included: residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities, those with chronic lung disease, individuals undergoing cancer treatment, those with confirmed or suspected cases of Coronavirus, or those who have had contact with an individual diagnosed with Coronavirus. No business, establishment, corporation, non-profit, or organization shall allow more than ten people to be gathered at a single location, unless individuals can maintain six feet of separation at all times. This applies to all businesses and organizations, including gyms. All residents of Oconee County are strongly urged to remain at home unless they are engaged in necessary and vital business. We encourage all citizens to follow CDC and national taskforce recommendations on limiting groups to no more than ten people, maintaining at least six feet of separation and utilizing drive-through, pick-up, or delivery options for food. We urge all residents to remain in their home except to conduct vital business. With the closure of restaurant dining areas, park recreational fields and additional businesses such as movie theaters closing, Oconee County no longer has areas of significant public gathering. We support Governor Kemp’s order and we will work to make the order successful. The restrictions on gatherings of groups larger than ten and the requirement of social distancing with a six-foot minimum will, along with the order for medically fragile individuals to shelter in place, help prevent the transmission of this virus, especially to those who are most vulnerable. We have and will continue to collaborate with other governments in the region, including Barrow, Jackson, Walton, and Gwinnett, to develop a regional strategy to combat COVID-19 and support Governor Kemp’s Executive Order. Please continue to visit our website www.oconeecounty.com and our social media channels for updates on this evolving situation. Please also sign up for CodeRED emergency updates at: https://tinyurl.com/oconeega. Complaints about restaurant operation can be directed to Environmental Health at 706-769-7060. Parks: All use of recreational fields and courts at Oconee Veterans Parks, Herman C. Michael Park, Bogart Sports Complex and Heritage Park, including soccer, softball, baseball, tennis courts, basketball courts, disc golf and playground is prohibited. Staff have posted closure signs on the facilities. Park walking trails will remain open provided social distancing requirements are maintained. Additionally, patrons in parks are required to adhere to national recommendations of limiting groups to a maximum of ten people and maintaining six feet of separation. All other pickup recreation games in park spaces are also prohibited. Failure to comply with these rules after staff enforcement may result in being banned from all Oconee County parks for a period of one year. Restaurants and Businesses: We want the community to continue to support local businesses, but in a responsible manner. The Tourism and Visitors Bureau has developed an evolving list of restaurants offering drive-thru/pick-up/delivery options to limit social interactions. Please see the link below: https://www.facebook.com/107016329327480/posts/3396839740345106/?d=n Additionally, we will be waiving penalties on late Occupational Tax Certificates until May 1 and deferring payment of alcohol excise taxes until September 1. Solid Waste Collection Site/ Recycling Centers: All Oconee County solid waste collection sites/recycling centers have been operating on a limited schedule since Friday, March 20. The sites will be open for self-service on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In order to limit contact between sanitation personnel and the public, attendant assistance and Pay-As-You-Throw bag sales will be unavailable at these locations. You can still purchase PAYT bags at retail locations (grocery stores and convenience stores). Please do not leave trash or other items outside the gate when the sites are closed. Also, make sure to dispose of your items in the proper bins. Please do not mix trash with the recycling! In order to maintain enough storage space for everyone, we ask that you limit your use to disposal of normal household items only. The following direct links for common transactions may be helpful: Pay water bill: https://www.oconeecounty.com/498/View-andor-Pay-your-Bill Renew vehicle registration: https://eservices.drives.ga.gov/_/ Pay property taxes: https://oconeecountyga.governmentwindow.com/tax.html Pay traffic ticket: https://www.ezcourtpay.com/Tix/Default.aspx Sign up for CodeRED notifications: https://tinyurl.com/oconeega In response to the emerging COVID-19 situation, the Water Resources Department is temporarily halting the disconnection of water service for non-payment. As always, you may also email or call county staff with questions; departmental and staff contact information is available on our website. For more information about Coronavirus, visit the Georgia Department of Public Health at https://dph.georgia.gov and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.
  • Coronavirus is forcing City Hall to make adjustments to the way the Athens-Clarke County Board of Assessors handles property tax returns and conservation use applications.   From the Athens-Clarke Co government website… In response to coronavirus COVID-19 and the need to protect residents and employees from the potential spread of the virus, the Clarke County Board of Assessors is closed to the public until further notice. The Clarke County Board of Assessors requests that all personal property tax returns and conservation use applications be mailed to their office at 325 E. Washington St. Room 280, Athens, Georgia, 30601. All personal property tax returns and conservation use applications must be postmarked by April 1, 2020. The Clarke County Board of Assessors will accept 2020 returns/applications that are sent via email by April 1, 2020. They will require the original signed personal property tax returns and conservation use applications for filing purposes. However, those can be mailed after the April 1 deadline. If you need a conservation use application, call their office at 706-613-3140 or email assessor@accgov.comand they will mail or email you one. Please note, all applications must be notarized and sent back to their office by April 1, 2020. If you have any questions regarding personal property tax returns or conservation use applications, please call 706-613-3140. Questions regarding homestead applications or real property returns can be directed to the Tax Commissioner’s Office at 706-613-3120.
  • The Georgia Department of Public Health says there are now 29 confirmed coronavirus cases in Athens, with seven in Oconee County and three in Madison County. Jackson County has two confirmed cases of COVID 19; Barrow County has five. There are 1,643 coronavirus cases in Georgia in 101 counties. There have been 56 coronavirus deaths in Georgia.  Two University of Georgia students are among the students from across the southeast who were stranded in Peru when that country declared martial law because of coronavirus: Aya Mansour and Juliann Marmal are, along with the others, now back in the United States. The United Way of Northeast Georgia is partnering with the Athens Area Community Foundation in forming a COVID 19 Community Response Fund. The Foundation says the Fund will provide financial support to local organizations that are working to meet needs associated with the coronavirus pandemic in Athens.  The annual meeting of the Friends of the State Botanical Garden, which had been scheduled for tonight at the Garden on South Milledge Avenue in Athens, is canceled, yet another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.  The Hall County School System is donating medical supplies—masks, goggles, and gowns among them--to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville. A student at the University of North Georgia campus in Gainesville—last on campus on March 11—has tested positive for coronavirus.  Flowery Branch is among the latest cities in northeast Georgia to declare a state of emergency because of coronavirus: the measure approved by the City Council in Flowery Branch means, among other things, no dining inside restaurants in Flowery Branch.  

Local News

  • UPDATE [7 p.m.]: The Georgia Department of Public Health on Friday night reported one more death due to COVID-19 since noon, bringing the state’s toll to 65. The state had topped 2,000 cases at noon, and the DPH recorded an additional 197 cases since then, bringing the total to 2,198. Of those patients, 607 are hospitalized, which is about 27.6% of all cases. Friday’s update was the first time the DPH had released data on where people died. Dougherty County led the count with 13 deaths, followed by Fulton with 12 and Cobb and Lee each with five. Nearly 10,000 tests have been conducted across the state. About 22.2% of those returned positive results. Chattahoochee and Hart counties recorded their first cases Friday, bringing the number of counties affected to 104. Habersham had its only case removed, and it’s unclear whether that was a false positive or if it was moved to a different county’s count. Fulton County saw the largest increase in new cases with 40, followed by DeKalb at 38 and both Cobb and Gwinnett with 19. Fulton still leads the state in cases with 347. As of 7 p.m. Thursday, there were 219 cases in DeKalb, 163 in Cobb, 121 in Gwinnett, 107 in Bartow, 53 in Clayton, 50 in Cherokee, 44 in Henry, 32 in Douglas, 30 in Hall, 22 in Fayette, 21 in Forsyth, 16 in Rockdale, 15 in Newton and 13 in Paulding. Patients between the ages of 18 and 59 make up the majority of cases at 56%, while those 60 and older make up 34% of cases. The DPH does not release compiled data on how many patients have recovered. For the full update, click here. ORIGINAL STORY [noon]: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia surpassed 2,000 Friday as the death toll continues to climb. At 2,001, the cases reported by state health officials have increased 150% since the start of this week. On Monday, the number of confirmed cases across the state was fewer than 1,000. At least 64 Georgians have died as a result of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to the latest data from the Georgia Department of Public Health. Eight more deaths were reported since late Thursday night.   Of those infected, less than one-third are hospitalized across the state, according to health officials.  » COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia For most, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and those with existing health problems are at risk of more severe illnesses, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover in a matter of weeks. » DASHBOARD: Real-time stats and charts tracking coronavirus in Georgia » MORE: Map tracks coronavirus globally in real time The virus has now affected two-thirds of the counties in the state, with the greatest impact to those in metro Atlanta. Georgia ranks 10th nationally in number of confirmed cases. It is sixth in number of deaths caused by COVID-19, according to the latest available data. About 3.2% of Georgians who have tested positive have died. » AJC IN-DEPTH: In hard-hit Georgia, virus expected to linger Habersham County reported its first case Friday and Upson reported its first two, further widening the gap between counties affected by the virus and those untouched. Only 56 of Georgia’s 159 counties do not currently have coronavirus cases.   The situation in Dougherty County is worsening. The southwest Georgia county of about 90,000 people reported 29 new cases since late Thursday night, according to health officials. Its total of 193 confirmed cases falls behind the much larger Fulton County but ahead of all other metro Atlanta counties. Considering the latest figures, Dougherty has the state’s highest concentration per capita of patients known to be infected with COVID-19.  » MORE: City under siege: Coronavirus exacts heavy toll in Albany Of the metro Atlanta counties, there are now 307 cases of the virus in Fulton, 181 in DeKalb, 144 in Cobb, 102 in Gwinnett, 98 in Bartow, 55 in Carroll, 46 each in Cherokee and Clayton, 40 in Henry, 27 in Douglas, 24 in Hall, 16 in Rockdale, 15 in Newton and 12 in Paulding. The number of confirmed cases has multiplied rapidly as the virus spreads and testing capacity has ramped up. As of Friday, nearly 10,000 tests had been conducted across the state, and about 20% of those returned positive results.  As numbers balloon, Gov. Brian Kemp has renewed his call for Georgians to stay home and practice social distancing. At a town hall broadcast Thursday night, Kemp urged residents to heed directives to avoid more restrictive measures, like a statewide stay-at-home mandate. » RELATED: Kemp urges Georgians to heed virus warnings but balks at drastic steps Bars and nightclubs remain closed across the state, many public gatherings are banned, and the elderly and medically fragile are ordered to shelter in place. » PHOTOS: Metro Atlanta adjusts to shifts in daily life amid coronavirus crisis Many Georgia cities, including several in metro Atlanta, have issued their own stay-at-home orders to residents, shutting down nonessential businesses and imposing curfews. On Thursday, Kemp extended the closure of public schools into late April. » MORE: Georgia families brace after Kemp extends closure of schools Those who believe they are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility. Georgians can also call the state COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681 to share public health information and connect with medical professionals.  — Please return to AJC.com for updates.
  • The University of North Georgia says it will adopt a distance-learning model for the remainder of this year’s spring semester classes.   From the UNG website… The University System of Georgia (USG) has determined that all 26 institutions, including UNG, will move to online instruction for all courses for the remainder of the semester with extremely limited exceptions. This action comes following last week’s decision to suspend instruction for two weeks to ensure business and instructional continuity, and to allow further state assessment of COVID-19. In the end, we want to ensure that our faculty, staff and students are safe; that we do our part to help stem the spread of the coronavirus in Georgia; and that we fulfill our mission to graduate our students even in the face of these challenging times.  Based on the March 16 announcement from the USG                  , students will not be allowed to return to campus until they receive permission from the university, which will be forthcoming soon. Additionally, residence halls will be closed, with minimal exceptions for students unable to return home or who cannot find housing elsewhere. We will make every effort to accommodate those students who are unable to depart campus.  We will send specific instructions to students regarding when they can return to campus to retrieve their belongings from residence halls. Students will be expected to follow those instructions. We will provide additional information on refunds for housing, dining, and other services, as we receive additional guidance from the USG. Students should wait for university officials to contact them.  The university will remain open, with minimal staff physically on-site, to ensure continuity of certain services.  We know that students, faculty and staff will have many questions based on this announcement. We will be providing more detailed information to you frequently in the days ahead. 
  • With schools in Athens and around the state not re-opening until April 27 at the earliest, the Clarke County School District continues to provide meals for students.  From the Clarke Co School District… The CCSD will provide free meals for students beginning Tuesday, March 17. Meals will be available for pick up during weekdays at two locations (Hilsman Middle and Oglethorpe Ave. Elem) and delivered to select neighborhoods via school bus (along existing bus routes).  Click here to view community food resources. Pick-up Locations (Hilsman Middle and Oglethorpe Ave. Elementary) Meals will be available for pickup between 8:00 a.m. – Noon at the following locations:  Hilsman Middle School – 870 Gaines School Rd, Athens, GA 30605  Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School – 1150 Oglethorpe Ave, Athens, GA 30606 Bus Delivery Routes to Select Neighborhoods (along existing bus routes) - Updated 3/26/20 Following are links to the delivery schedule to select neighborhoods. A CCSD school bus will make scheduled stops to deliver meals. Click on a neighborhood location to view the bus delivery routes:  Route 1: BETHEL HOMES, PARKVIEW, ROCKSPRINGS & BROAD ACRES  Route 2: VINE & HERMAN ST., NELLIE B., SPRING VALLEY ESTATES, HALLMARK MHP  Route 3: HIGHLAND GREENS MHP, PINEWOOD MHP, & COUNTRY CORNERS MHP  Route 4: PINEWOOD APTS, CLARKE GARDEN APTS, TOWNE VIEW PL  Route 5: ATHENS GARDEN, DEER PARK, FIREWOOD, & BIG OAK CIR  Route 6: KNIGHTS BRIDGE MHP, STONEHENGE, CREEKSIDE MANOR, INTOWN SUITES, & OGLETHORPE ELEM  Route 7: COLUMBIA BROOKSIDE, UNIVERSITY GARDENS, SYCAMORE DRIVE  Route 8: SOUTH RIDGE, ROLLING RIDGE, & KATHWOOD  Route 9: HIGHLAND PARK & COLLEGE GLEN  Route 10: WESTCHESTER & TALLASSEE  Route 11: KNOLLWOOD APTS, OLD HULL RD. & FOURTH ST.  Route 12: SPRING VALLEY MHP, SARTAIN DR,& WINTERVILLE RD  Route 13: GARNETT RIDGE, CHATHAM PARK, VINEYARD  Route 14: BURKLAND DR, DANIELSVILLE RD., FOREST ACRES, FREEMAN DR.  Route 15: CREEKSTONE, NORTH BLUFF, SLEEPY HOLLOW MHP  Route 16: CAMPBELL DR., NELLIE MAE DR. Service Guidelines To ensure the safety of all our students, we request the following guidelines be followed:  Students must be present to get their meals.  At this time, adult meals are not available for purchase.  Students must take the entire meal – choices will not be provided.  Follow the directions of the meal service monitor. Be patient as a line may develop, but we will serve students in a timely and safe fashion.  Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.  Avoid close contact with people who are sick.  Cough or sneeze into an elbow or use a tissue and place immediately in the trash.
  • Athens-Clarke County has been served the lawsuit filed by Athens gun shop owner Andrew Clyde. Clyde, who is a candidate for Congress in Georgia’s 9th District, has filed suit seeking an injunction of enforcement of a 24-7 shelter in place order issued by Athens-Clarke County Commissioners last week. His attorney says the coronavirus-inspired measure is vague and overly broad and, even though it does not appear to order the closure of gun shops, is adversely impacting Clyde’s business on Atlanta Highway in Athens. Attorney Mo Wiltshire says lawyers are trying to arrange a hearing via video conference, and he says other Athens business owners are also expressing concerns about the County’s coronavirus ordinance. 
  • The latest numbers from the state Labor Department do not reflect the impact of Athens’ coronavirus-inspired economic lockdown: the February jobs report shows a 3.3 percent unemployment rate for Clarke, Oconee, Oglethorpe, and Madison counties. The metro-Athens jobless rate was 3.1 percent in January. From the Ga Dept of Labor… According to preliminary data, the four-county metropolitan statistical area (MSA) also showed a jump in employment for the month and the year.    In Athens, the unemployment rate increased 0.1 percentage points in February, reaching at 3.3 percent. A year ago, the rate was 3.7 percent.    The labor force increased in February by 967 and ended the month with 100,244. That number is up 510 when compared to February of 2019.    Athens ended February with 96,600 jobs. That number increased by 700 from January to February, but went down by 300 when compared to the same time last year.    Athens finished the month with 96,973 employed residents. That number increased by 889 over the month and is up by a significant 883 when compared to the same time a year ago.    The number of unemployment claims went down by about 25 percent in February. When compared to last February, claims were up by about 41 percent.   The four-county MSA includes Clarke, Madison, Oconee, and Oglethorpe counties.

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS Georgia quarterback D'Wan Mathis was back in his home state of Michigan over spring break when the coronavirus pandemic began to take effect. Some of the Bulldogs' players would end up staying home when UGA suspended and then canceled face-to-face spring semester classes. But not Mathis. 'D'Wan came back on spring break and told me he loves where he is from, but that he needed to go back to Georgia,' Terence Mathis told DawgNation on Friday. 'He said, Daddy, I love you, but I'm leaving.' 'For us, we're just happy he was granted the exemption to stay near campus where they have the best doctors in the world keeping up with him.' The former Ohio State quarterback commit from metro Detroit has had a challenging rehabilitation period after an emergency brain surgery procedure last May 23 put him in the ICU unit at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center. 'I want the public to know this, please write this: Georgia could have given up on my son,' Terence Mathis said. 'But instead, Kirby and his staff have treated D'Wan as though he was their own son. They've used every possible resource to stay behind him and keep him engaged with the team after saving his life.' RELATED: Georgia saved my son's life, medical director Ron Courson praised Indeed, Coach Kirby Smart made it clear last May that Georgia would not rush Mathis' comeback, and they planned for a complete recovery. 'We are expecting a full recovery, and the timeline is the least of our concerns,' Smart said at SEC spring meetings. Mathis' comeback has come in stages. He was cleared to run and lift last July. By the start of the 2019 season, he was participating in limited drill work. By last November, Mathis running the scout team offense and playing with such passion that coaches and doctors had to reel him in and remind him to use some restraint. Mathis was cleared to go through spring football drills, though it's important to note he's not yet been cleared for game action. There's an MRI test scheduled for May that could provided the all-important clearance for total contact (UGA doesn't tackle its quarterbacks in spring drills). More good news came on Friday, when the SEC added some provisions for coaches to instruct players. Mathis, along with fellow Georgia football quarterbacks Jamie Newman, Caron Beck and Stetson Bennett, has the benefit of chalk talks starting at 1 p.m. next Monday. RELATED: SEC moves toward resuming football preparations Terence Mathis maintains the football will take care of itself. He said the most important thing to the Mathis family is how D'Wan has been accepted into the Georgia football community. 'I'm indebted to Georgia, they have extended this incredible opportunity to D'Wan,' Terence Mathis said. 'Especially during these tough times, and you know it's bad up here in Michigan. 'It means everything to us as a family for him to now have the opportunity to be involved with the football planning while still pursuing academics. 'Coach (Todd) Monken has reached out to me and let me know that D'Wan is having positive progress.' Mathis' upside was obvious to all who watched last year's G-Day Game. The 6-foot-6, 205-pounder was 15-of-28 passing for 113 yards and provided one of the biggest highlights of the Georgia football spring game. Mathis, who ran a 10.8-second time in the 100 meters in high school, showed his speed when he caught a double-reverse pass from Matt Landers for a 39-yard touchdown. TRICK PLAY ALERT #GDay #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/3Qc6Opb85L Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) April 21, 2019 'D'Wan, he's explosive,' Jake Fromm said of his former understudy. 'I think he converted three or four first downs in a row with his legs. 'The guy can run the ball, he can throw it 70 yards, he's going to be a great player.' The strong performances in spring drills kept Mathis going during the dog days of last summer and into the season. But there were also frustrating times when D'Wan Maths didn't know what to do without football, unable to travel to away games. That's when Georgia came up biggest, according to his father. 'As frustrated as he got, the more they wrapped their arms around him,' Terence Mathis said. 'Those coaches could have said they were too busy trying to win the SEC East again and play for another league title. But they didn't say that. 'They believed in D'Wan, and they have stayed behind him, and the DawgNation fans have stayed behind him, too.' There is no timetable for college football to return at the time of this publication (March 28). The coronavirus has put all group activities around the world on hold. But Terence Mathis said his son will remain in Athens. 'That's what he considers his home now,' he said, 'and it's where we believe he belongs.' DawgNation D'Wan Mathis stories Mind Game: D'Wan Mathis ready to compete for starting job Mathis tipped by social media Ohio State misled him on Justin Fields D'Wan Mathis recovering after emergency brain cyst surgery Jake Fromm shares observations of D'Wan Mathis The post Georgia quarterback D'Wan Mathis continuing comeback home' in Athens, granted exemption appeared first on DawgNation.
  • DawgNation has four staffers who cover Georgia football from every angle: Beat, live streams, photos, podcasts, recruiting, etc. The 'Cover 4' concept is: 1) Present a topic; 2) Offer a reasoned response; 3) Share a brisk statement on that opinion. 4) Pepper the page with photos for the big picture. For this edition, we discuss what Georgia fans would have been talking about now had COVID-19 not put our way of life on hold. DawgNation continues with the 'Cover 4' concept. The focus is always a timely look with each of our guys manning the secondary on a pertinent topic. We're looking at our now useless Georgia spring practice schedule from earlier this year. It makes us wince. Poof. All of that is gone. But football will return. Someday. Hopefully soon. That schedule says the 2020 Bulldogs would have been six practices deep into their spring drills after today. What would have DawgNation been talking about right now? We closed our eyes and imagined what that would have looked like. It resulted in another 'Cover 4' discussion of four different aspects of the team. It was fun to do amidst a time of great renewal for the Georgia program. Well, except for a salty defense which should be the best of the Kirby Smart era in Athens. The quick in-and-out game remains. The Cover 4 is designed to come out as quick as everyone is to try to maintain their social distancing these days. What would have been the big Georgia football spring practice storyline right now? Brandon Adams: Jamie Newman The 'why' from 'DawgNation Daily' here: 'The quarterback is almost always the biggest story, and this certainly would've been the case with Newman. The absence of spring practice only increases our anticipation to see Newman's debut this fall .' Mike Griffith: The offensive line The 'why' from 'On the Beat' here: 'This is the area Kirby Smart is most concerned about, and he'll say it. There will be discussion about different players lining up in different places, and injury updates . ' Connor Riley: Todd, Todd, Todd Monken The 'why' from 'Good Day UGA' here: ' Between Smart and some offensive players, we'd have gotten to hear more about working with the new offensive coordinator and what he brings to the table, as well as the working dynamic with Smart.' Jeff Sentell: The need for more playmakers at receiver. Again. The Intel here: 'Kirby Smart made it clear last spring he didn't have enough playmakers at receiver. He wanted to see what Dominick Blaylock, Lawrence Cager and George Pickens could add to the unit. It would have been the same chorus this year. The only differences between the receivers practicing last spring would have been the subtraction of veterans J.J Holloman and Tyler Simmons and the addition of Pickens and Justin Robinson. The Bulldogs will again await the arrival of Jermaine Burton, Marcus Rosemy, Ladd McConkey and Arian Smith with great anticipation. When they hit the field, that's when we will get a glimpse of where Monken's new offense can take Georgia this fall.' The post Georgia football: What would have been the talk of spring practices by now? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia and its new quarterback will be among the favorites when college football resumes, per the latest online odds from sportsbetting.ag. Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman is ranked fifth among the Heisman Trophy contenders without having even taken his first snap for the Bulldogs. To boot, Newman along with the rest of SEC players has just now gotten approval to receive online 'chalk talk' instruction from quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Todd Monken starting at 1 p.m. on Monday. Former Georgia quarterback Justin Fields is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy at Ohio State (+450), followed by Clemson's Trevor Lawrence (+475), Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler (+1000), Texas' Sam Ehlinger (+1200) and then Newman (+1400). Other SEC quarterbacks among the favorites include Florida's Kyle Trask, who is tied for ninth with USC QB Kedon Slovis (+2500), Alabama QB Mac Jones and North Carolina QB Sam Howell. Tailback Zamir White is tied for 25th among the Heisman Trophy contenders listed (+6600). But White, like Newman, has yet to secure the starting spot at his position entering into what will be a unique yet still very competitive offseason. SEC teams are currently suspended from any on-campus activities and are social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. Once play resumes, Georgia figures to be in as good as shape as any program in the nation. RELATED: 4 reasons why Georgia football set for title run in 2020 The Bulldogs, as a team, rank fourth among the national championship contenders, per the online odds. Clemson is the favorite to win the national championship (+275), followed by Ohio State (+350), Alabama (+550) and then Georgia (+900). LSU is No. 5 on the preseason odds list (+1000), with Florida No. 6 (+1200), Oklahoma No. 7 (+2000) and Auburn, Notre Dame, Oregon, Penn State, Texas and Texas A&M tied at No. 8 (+2500). Georgia football offseason reads WATCH: Monty Rice shows proof of 'invisible progress' at Georgia The post Georgia football, Jamie Newman stand tall among preseason favorites in updated odds appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS SEC administrators took the first step toward resuming football-related activity, giving the OK for online instruction beginning at 1 p.m. (EDT) on Monday. It's a small step, but it shows the intent for preparation leading into the 2020 season, even as some have become skeptical amid the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. 'What they will be allowed to do now is what they could have been doing in campus football meetings, from an instruction standpoint,' Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity told DawgNation on Friday. 'Coaches are obviously not able to provide any physical delivery of information, or conduct any physical activity,' McGarity said, referring to the current SEC policy which runs through April 15. 'But if you want to sit down online with a group of wide receivers and show vide0, and teach and have chalk talks, all that is fine.' Big for Georgia Obviously it's key for Georgia football, which has a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in Todd Monken and is replacing three-year starter Jake Fromm at quarterback. Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman is the favorite to assume controls of an offense that will have RPO and Pro Style principles. The modification for online instruction applies to all sports. There remains a strong likelihood the SEC's ban on team activities on campus will be extended beyond April 15, with schools finishing their spring academic courses online. The Big Ten announced on Friday itwill extend the previously announced suspension of all organized team activities through May 4. Student-athletes who have not yet enrolled in school will not be eligible for the online chalk talk interaction, per the modifications' stipulations. Georgia true freshman quarterback Carson Beck was an early enrollee, so he will be eligible. AJC.com reported on Friday there have been 2001 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Georgia, including 29 in Clarke County, home to the University of Georgia. RELATED: Coronavirus dashboard, real-time stats in Georgia of cases Timeline in place? Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said on ESPN that he considers July 1 a deadline of sorts, as far as getting the players engaged in physical activity leading into the season. 'There's going to be a day where we all, as college football administrators and coaches, come up with a date where, from a player safety standpoint, we have to say this is the date that we can live with to get these young men physically ready to go into camp,' Kelly said earlier this week on SportsCenter. 'If you can't start training your football team by July 1 .the realistic goal is minimum of four weeks of conditioning before you put them in camp,' Kelly said. 'College football is going to be affected if we're not playing in 90 days, in terms of the conditioning element and getting these young men ready.' Georgia coach Kirby Smart has yet to issue a public statement on his thoughts about the return to football, other than a video. RELATED: UGA Kirby Smart releases coronavirus-related video SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said the league meetings and annal SEC Media Days remain on schedule. RELATED: Greg Sankey full steam ahead' approach amid coronavirus uncertainty SEC Memo The new allowance permitting the 'online chalk talks,' so to speak, comes with stipulations outlined in an SEC memo first obtained by 247Sports and confirmed by McGarity: 1. All required physical athletic activities (e.g., strength and conditioning workouts, sport- specific workouts) shall be prohibited. This prohibition includes both in-person involvement, and any virtual involvement by institutional staff such as remotely watching, directing, or reviewing physical workouts. 2. Required virtual film review, chalk talk, etc. that does not include physical activity shall be permissible. Any required activity of this nature shall be limited to two (2) hours of activity per week in all sports, shall be scheduled in accordance with the institution's established Time Management Policy, and shall not interfere with required class time for online instruction. These activities may not include a review by or live monitoring of film/video of a student-athlete engaging in workouts or physical activity occurring after March 13, 2020. Institutions may not suggest or require a student-athlete to make film/video of his/her workouts or physical activity available by other means (such as social media). 3. Prospective student-athletes may not be involved in any way in such required, countable activities conducted by the institution. 4. Only countable coaching staff members may be involved in providing technical or tactical instruction to student-athletes as part of such virtual activity. 5. Student-athletes may continue to be provided strength and conditioning workouts and/or sport-specific drills; however, coaches and other athletics staff may not observe the activity (virtually or in-person). Student-athletes may not be required to workouts and/or drills, nor may they be required to report back on such activity to any athletics staff member. 6. These modifications shall be effective as of 12:00 pm Central/1:00 pm Eastern on Monday, March 30. 7. Further assessment of off-season and/or summer activities will occur in the coming weeks. 8. Athletics programs are expected to comply with public health directives governing workplace activity and limitations on gatherings. This policy does not impact the Conference's earlier statement that you may continue to 'provide student-athletes with care and support in the areas of academics; medical care; mental health and wellness; and housing, as needed.' Consistent with normal practice, violations of this SEC policy are to be reported to the Conference office and will be subject to penalties at the discretion of the Commissioner. If you have any questions, please contact our office. In the meantime, Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning made it clear the Bulldogs' assistant coaches will continue to spend time with family, practice social distancing and encourage fans and players to wash their hands. Hunker Down! #GoDawgs @GeorgiaFootball pic.twitter.com/30tCcYlLVw Dan Lanning (@CoachDanLanning) March 27, 2020 The post SEC steps toward resuming football preparations, approves online chalk talks appeared first on DawgNation.
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