Virus update

There are now 1,026 confirmed coronavirus cases and 32 reported deaths in the state, according to the latest available data from the Georgia Department of Public Health. 

The department released its latest figures at noon Tuesday, March 24 — a staggering increase from the 800 cases and 26 deaths reported Monday evening, March 23. The department will update its online county-by-county tracker again at 7 p.m. Tuesday. 

There remains one listed case in Barrow County, and that is a person who has been living in an assisted living facility in another county, county officials said last week. Clarke County had its first reported virus-related death Tuesday and now has 16 confirmed cases. Hall County jumped up to 14 cases, while Gwinnett County has ballooned to 45 confirmed cases. Oconee County has five confirmed cases, and Walton County's first case was confirmed Tuesday.

Fulton County has the most cases in the state with 184, followed by DeKalb (94), Dougherty (90), Cobb (86) and Bartow (75). 

There have been 5,484 tests administered, according to the state's latest figures.

Late Monday afternoon, Gov. Brian Kemp announced a two-week statewide ban on all gatherings of more than 10 people, unless they can assure spacing of at least six feet between people at all times, and ordered the closing of bars and nightclubs across the state. He also gave the DPH the authority to close all business and nonprofits — including churches — that do not abide by the regulations and ordered “medically-fragile” residents to shelter in place for two weeks.

Less than two hours after Kemp's announcement, the Winder City Council unanimously approved several virus-related emergency measures for a two-week period — including a citywide curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., the closure of certain businesses (entertainment, recreational and personal grooming) and a ban on dine-in services at restaurants and most public gatherings.

Kemp has faced calls from medical professionals, state legislators from both major parties and local governments around the state to take stronger actions to stem the spread of the highly contagious virus and COVID-19, the disease it causes.

The Georgia Municipal Association on Tuesday urged all of its municipalities to declare public health emergencies and close "nonessential" businesses within their boundaries.

Like Winder, the City of Auburn has declared a state of local emergency but has not gone as far with its provisions. Most other local governments in Barrow have closed most of their facilities to the public, but there has not been a uniform approach to date as far as business closings and other related orders.

The state has established a new COVID-19 hotline. People can call 844-442-2681 to speak with medical professionals and share any public health information. 

Those who believe they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care facility but should not show up to an emergency room or health care facility unannounced. 

Continue to visit and for COVID-19 information, and continue to check back at for the latest statewide and local updates. 

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