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Live updates: Coronavirus in Georgia

We're providing facts, not fear. Find updates on the coronavirus outbreak impacting Georgia from Friday, March 20.

ATLANTA — Yet another Georgia state senator is confirming that she has tested positive for coronavirus. Senator Kay Kirkpatrick announced on Friday that she had come down with a fever on Saturday night and, as a physician, immediately self-quarantined and called her doctor.

She was tested on Sunday and the results came back positive on Friday. Scroll to read more.

At 11Alive News, our coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in facts, not fear.

Have a question? Text it to us at 404-873-9114.

State and federal officials with the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are continually monitoring the spread of the virus. They are also working hand-in-hand with the World Health Organization to track the spread around the world and to stop it.

We will continue to track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information.

Key facts:

Friday, March 20 

Second Georgia state senator tests positive for coronavirus

Yet another Georgia state senator is confirming that she has tested positive for coronavirus. 

Senator Kay Kirkpatrick announced on Friday that she had come down with a fever on Saturday night and, as a physician, immediately self-quarantined and called her doctor. 

She was tested on Sunday and the results came back positive on Friday.

"I have followed the strict protocol recommended by DPH and am comfortable that I have not put anyone at risk," she said.

She added that even though she's in an at-risk age group, she's "blessed to be very healthy and thankful thankful" to be recovering without complications.

"I will be happy to have immunity to this awful virus," she said.

Cherokee County selected as a site for COVID-19 testing

The Georgia Department of Public Health has created a Specimen Point of Collection (SPOC) in Cherokee County, according to the county's Marsha's Office. The SPOC site will be open starting the week of March 23 - 27. 

At this time, testing is not open to the general public and will be limited to persons 60 and older with symptoms of COVID-19, according to officials.

The Marsha's Office said persons 60 and older with symptoms of the virus must contact their healthcare provider to be screened and entered into the Public Health Referral System. They will then receive an appointment time and “Person Under Investigation” (PUI) number. Those without a PUI number will not be tested at this time.

Location: Cherokee County Government Complex
Address: 7545 Main St, Woodstock GA 30188
Hours of Operation: Monday - Thursday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Coronavirus numbers stand at 485 cases, 14 deaths

There are now 485 cases confirmed throughout the state, with the number of deaths rising to 14 total. The latest death, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health, was an 85-year-old woman in Cobb County.

The number of cases rose in a matter of hours when the number of confirmed cases stood at 420 at noon. 

Fulton County is still reporting the most cases in the state, with 88 confirmed instances of the virus. Bartow has leaped ahead of Cobb, and is now reporting 54 cases of the virus, the second-highest number in Georgia. 

Cobb County and hard-hit Dougherty County, which has reported six virus-related deaths, each have 47 and 44 cases, respectively. DeKalb comes in fifth on the list of counties with the most cases, with 36 reported positive cases.

For a breakdown by county, view the 11Alive interactive map.

RELATED: Tracking COVID-19: Georgia Coronavirus Interactive map

Half of Georgia's coronavirus-related deaths are in SW Georgia

The new strain of coronavirus creating a global pandemic has claimed the lives of 13 Georgians, so far, according to numbers from the Georgia Department of Public Health.

New information released by the health department, however, shows us that Dougherty County, in southwest Georgia, has been the hardest hit by the virus. Data from the state health agency shows that six people have died from the virus, accounting for nearly half of all the deaths in the state.

The Georgia Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are now sending epidemiologists to Albany in Dougherty County, to help contain the spread.

The data further beaks down each death based on demographics like age, race and gender. The youngest victim, according to the information, was a 42-year-old black woman from Dougherty County. The oldest was an 85-year-old white woman from Gwinnett County.

RELATED: This is a breakdown of Georgia's coronavirus-related deaths

Kemp issues two executive orders

Gov. Brian Kemp issued two new executive orders, Friday night. The first authorized a transfer of more than $19 million from the Governor's Emergency Fund to appropriation accounts to cover costs associated with fighting COVID-19.

The second allows the reduction of regulations in order to help the state respond to the spread of the virus in Georgia. This includes emergency rules to provide telemedicine licenses, temporarily lifting restrictions related to physicians refilling prescriptions, suspending wait times for building inspections and more.

Dunwoody temporarily closes gyms, studios and sports clubs

The Dunwoody City Council voted unanimously to require the temporary closure of gyms, studios and sports clubs offering the use of exercise equipment, shared activity space or close contact sports. The decision is designed to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for employees and the public.

The closure order will take effect at 9 p.m. tonight and will last for 30 days, although it can be lifted by Council before that.

Morehouse College announces new date for graduation

Morehouse College has moved its 136th annual Commencement to Dec. 13, a date that was chosen by students and administrators, the school said.

Morehouse’s original graduation date was May 17. More than 5,000 people typically attend Commencement season events and ceremonies each spring. 

A speaker for Morehouse’s 136th Commencement at 10 a.m. on Dec. 13 has not been announced.

DPH, CDC sending epidemiologists to assist Albany health district

The Georgia Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are sending epidemiologists to Albany in Dougherty County, a Georgia community hard-hit by the coronavirus.

As of noon, the county had 38 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the fourth highest number of cases in the state, behind Fulton, Cobb and Bartow counties, respectively. 

Around 5 p.m., the health department also confirmed that of the 13 deaths across the state related to the virus, six of those came from Dougherty County. 

The health department said the team of experts sent to the area in southwest Georgia will work with district staff in Albany to respond to and contain the outbreak, with a focus on infections at Phoebe Putney Hospital and long-term care facilities.

Roswell limits restaurant service to take out, drive-thru, delivery only

Roswell Mayor has signed an executive order restricting restaurant service within the city. he executive order will become effective at 11:59 p.m. on March 20 through 11:59 p.m., April 3.  

The order also closes gyms and fitness centers, movie theaters, live performance venues, bowling alleys, arcades, and private social clubs’ food services and indoor gatherings. 

The executive order includes a proclamation of a state of emergency, and while it does not mandate sheltering in place, it necessitates certain actions to ensure that the maximum number of people take steps to distance and/or isolate, while also enabling essential services to continue.

Walmart to hire 5,600 in Georgia, offer cash bonuses

In response to strong demand in stores, Walmart announced that they are hiring 150,000 new associates through the end of May. In Georgia, Walmart plans to hire more than 5,600 associates to work in stores, distribution centers and fulfillment centers.

Walmart also announced more than $365 million in cash bonuses to hourly associates in the U.S. They said every hourly associate employed by the company as of March 1 will qualify, and it will pay out on April 2.

City of Sandy Springs forces bars, gyms, restaurant dining rooms to close

The City of Sandy Springs has amended its emergency declaration ordinance during a special-called meeting on Friday to temporarily close all bars, gyms and restaurant dining rooms. 

This is a similar move made by the City of Atlanta the day prior

Restaurants can continue to operate, but must only offer to-go or delivery options.

The order also includes theaters, bowling alleys and other entertainment venues and clubs.

Three more Cobb firefighters in self-quarantine

Three Cobb County firefighters are under self-quarantine until March 25, a county spokesman confirmed. 

The spokesman said they were "possibly" exposed to COVID-19 and that they believe it happened on a fire call on March 11. These three are unrelated to seven others we reported on last week. 

He said that the firefighters are supposedly doing well.

Second TSA screening officer at Hartsfield-Jackson tests positive

A second TSA screening officer from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has tested positive for COVID-19, the agency confirmed on Friday. 

This officer last worked at the Atlanta airport on March 16 and worked the 10 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. shift. They did not specify which terminal. 

The first known positive case at the Atlanta airport was an officer who last worked March 7 in Terminal F, they said. 

This is the 14th known positive case of a TSA employee, according to their website.  

City of South Fulton clarifies curfew

After announcing that it would implement a curfew, City of South Fulton officials clarify that the curfew is an "educational effort" and not a punitive one. 

"The goal is to inform people about the benefits of social distancing as we try to stop the spread of COVID-19. Our goal is not to impose a police state or levy fines," a spokesperson for the city told 11Alive. "Given that, we are relying on the honor system."

The spokesperson said people will not need documentation when traveling to and from work. 

"We only ask that people be honest," they added.

The City said the curfew applies to everyone, as no public gatherings of more than 10 people are permitted - following the CDC‘s recommendation. Business are required to close at 9 p.m. There are exceptions for medical and pharmaceutical businesses. People who are working or traveling to or from work also are exempt.

Anyone in violation of the curfew will receive a warning. If someone repeatedly violates the curfew, they will be fined.

Arthur Blank's foundation donates more than $5M toward relief efforts

The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation announced nearly $5.4 million in funding for "immediate and long-term recovery assistance" to organizations providing support in Georgia and Montana.

“As a Family Foundation we have always believed that it is the power of many that will make the greatest impact on the most pressing issues in our society,” said Arthur M. Blank, Chairman of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. “This is that moment - to join together to truly harness the power of all of us to address a challenge that knows no boundaries and has no precedent in our lifetimes.”

The Foundation will grant $5 million to the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund established by United Way of Greater Atlanta and Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, they said.

Other organizations that will receive funds in Atlanta include Hands on Atlanta and the Atlanta Police Foundation.

In addition, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, owned by Blank, donated 3.5 tons of surplus of food ($100,000 value), providing more than 2,310 meals to six nonprofit groups in Atlanta - Veterans Empowerment Organization (VEO), Atlanta Mission, Atlanta City Baptist Rescue Mission, Gateway Center, Hope House, and Salvation Army: Red Shield Services.

Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Georgia, death toll now 13

The Georgia Department of Health announced new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. As of Noon, there are 420 confirmed cases of the virus and 13 deaths reported. This is up from the 287 confirmed cases that they announced on Thursday.

Of the 420 confirmed cases, 79 are in Fulton, 45 are in Cobb, 40 are in Bartow, 38 are in Dougherty and 35 are in DeKalb. In all, there are cases reported in 51 counties (24 cases are listed as unknown counties). For a breakdown by county, view the 11Alive interactive map.

Of the confirmed cases, 1 percent are between the ages of 0-17, while 41 percent are 18-59 years old, 33 percent are over 60 and 25 percent are unknown.

The health department did not specify where the new deaths occurred. The department said that it will now begin updating cases twice daily at noon and 7 p.m., up from once daily.

Cruise passengers, some ill, some with COVID-19 land at Hartsfield-Jackson

An airplane with passengers from a cruise ship have landed at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the governor's office confirmed. 

Gov. Brian Kemp's office confirmed to 11Alive that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at Dobbins Air Reserve Base reports 359 passengers are on the plane. 

They said three passengers from the cruise ship Costa Luminosa have tested positive for COVID-19 but are not showing any symptoms and that 13 are sick but have not been tested. 

The governor's office said all the passengers are being offloaded in a hangar for screening. Of the 359 passengers, 70 are Canadians. 

They said they've encouraged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to launch their two commercial buses to the airport so that they are standing by when the screening is complete. 

The governor said Georgia State Patrol will escort the buses to Dobbins.   

West Ga. Technical College reports positive COVID-19 test

West Georgia Technical College informed students this week that a "member of the college community" has self-reported a positive COVID-19 test. 

They said the person was last on the Douglas campus on March 5, with no evidence of visiting any other campus.

They told students: "The overall risk of COVID-19 to students, faculty, and staff at WGTC remains low. Health officials are taking precautionary measures to quickly identify cases of COVID-19, take appropriate public health action to reduce its spread, and protect the general public in identifying potential contacts."

Atlanta bars, restaurants allowed to sell alcohol to-go

Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says bars and restaurants will temporarily be able to sell alcohol to-go after signing an executive order on Friday. 

"Thank you to all who sent helpful info to assist with our bars and restaurants," she said.

The exemption will only last through the emergency declaration she previously signed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and will not exceed 60 days. It includes unopened beer and wine. 

RELATED: Atlanta restaurants now allowed to sell alcohol to-go

On Thursday, she signed an executive order closing all restaurant dining rooms, bars, gyms, theaters and other entertainment venues. 

'King of Pops' look to raise $25K to supply 10K pops to healthcare workers

Local popsicle entrepreneurs and brothers Steve and Nick Carse, founders of King of Pops, are looking to raise $25,000 to supply 10,000 pops to healthcare workers. 

They announced the fundraising effort on social media as a way to help the company out, but also as a way for the community to create "Unexpected Moments of Happiness." 

"We've got a lot of pops, but not a lot of cash," they said. "Currently, we're getting up early and staying up late trying to figure out how we are going to make it through this thing."

They've created a GoFundMe Page to get the prepackaged and "100 percent contactless" pops to those "risking their lives every day" to give them a "momentary happy distraction that they deserve so much."  

Dept. of Driver Services closing multiple locations

The Georgia Department of Driver Services is closing 11 customer service centers today in the state. 

"Customers are urged to consult DDS Online Services at www.dds.georgia.gov or download the free mobile app, DDS 2 GO for their driver services during this emergency period," they said.

The following locations are temporarily closed: Atlanta, Athens, Cedartown, Calhoun, Decatur, Griffin, Lawrenceville, Macon, LaGrange, Rock Spring and Warner Robins.

Cherokee County says only 10 people allowed at funerals

The Cherokee County Marshals Office has told all funeral service providers in the county that gatherings be limited to 10 people or less. 

In the letter, they referenced Dougherty County, where the virus was spread at two funerals and resulted in eight cases and several others exposed. 

"We recognize the sacrifice this will require of families in mourning as well as the funeral service providers but we feel it is necessary for the well-being of all parties and the communities," they said. 

Athens-Clarke County Government orders everyone to shelter in place 24/7 

The Athens-Clarke County mayor and commission unanimously approved an ordinance to shelter in place on Thursday, according to accgov.com.

The Athens Clarke County government said it applies 24/7 and will last until April 7, "or until it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing by the Mayor and Commission." 

According to the website, "The ordinance is designed to ensure that the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of residence to the maximum extent feasible."

The ordinance does allow for "essential services" and "essential businesses" to continue -- as listed in the provision. It prohibits all public gatherings outside of a household, requires all nonessential businesses to cease "except for minimum operations", prohibits nonessential travel, requires everyone to practice social distancing and more. 

Please visit here for full details on the exceptions and definitions listed out by officials.

Things to know Friday morning 

  • Clark Atlanta University graduation delayed, student emergency fund launched
  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signed an executive order Thursday limiting all restaurants to takeout service, closing bars and closing gyms, effective at midnight.
  • Publix added to list of grocers offering special hours for seniors 
  • Major League Soccer has extended the postponement of its matches to May 10.
  • All 26 University System of Georgia institutions are "working as quickly as possible" to issue partial refunds to students, they said on Thursday.
  • Georgia Power Foundation is investing $1 million to support the state in addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which they announced on Thursday.
  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said the state is receiving 700-800 calls per day on its COVID-19 hotline.
  • Cartersville Medical Center in Bartow County said on Thursday that since March 9, there have been 32 positive COVID-19 patients (with twelve who currently remain as inpatients).
  • Attorney General Chris Carr said he will quarantine for 14 days.
  • Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen has confirmed that an employee has contracted coronavirus.
  • An Emory University student who currently lives on campus has tested-positive for COVID-19. The student is a resident at 12 Eagle Row, the school said.
  • A nursing center resident in DeKalb County has been removed from the facility and is receiving care after testing positive for coronavirus.

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