Virus update

There are now five coronavirus cases listed for Barrow County, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health's latest online update released at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 26. 

The department is updating its online daily tracker twice daily at noon and 7 p.m.

The first reported Barrow County case last week was confirmed to be a person with a Barrow address living in another county. The DPH is not releasing any information about the other four cases to date. 

There were 1,643 confirmed cases statewide as of 7 p.m. Thursday (up from 1,525 at noon) with 56 reported deaths (up from 48) and 509 hospitalizations (up from 473). The number of confirmed cases has more than doubled since Monday, March 23, as state officials have cited more tests being administered. However, officials have also said the number of positive cases is likely much higher given the lack of readily available testing for everyone. 

Fulton County continues to have the most confirmed cases with 231 as of noon Thursday, followed by Dougherty (164), DeKalb (137), Cobb (119) and Bartow (93). 

Gwinnett County has seen its number of cases rise to 79. There are 29 cases in Clarke County, 22 in Hall County, seven in Oconee County, three in Madison County and two in Jackson County. 

There are 178 cases listed with an "unknown" county of residence. 

There were over 83,500 cases nationwide as of 7 p.m. Thursday with the death toll quickly approaching 1,200, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine's online tracker. The U.S. has more reported cases than any other nation in the world, according to the data available. 

This week, Barrow County and the cities of Winder, Auburn and Statham have all enacted local emergency orders, including bans on most public gatherings, the closure of certain businesses like entertainment, fitness and recreation establishments as well as beauty salons, and a ban on dine-in service at restaurants. Winder and Statham have also imposed 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfews. 

Gov. Brian Kemp has imposed some restrictions around the state, but not a statewide "shelter in place" order that many health professionals and political leaders have recommended.

Kemp will headline a televised town hall at 8 p.m. Thursday that will be carried by the Atlanta TV news stations, Georgia Public Broadcasting and more than 140 radio stations.

GOVERNOR CLOSES SCHOOLS THROUGH APRIL 24

On Thursday, Kemp ordered all public elementary and secondary schools in the state to remain closed through April 24. Schools will be allowed to reopen April 27, though Kemp could elect to extend the mandated closure at a later date.

"I am deeply grateful to State School Superintendent Richard Woods, the Georgia Department of Education, superintendents, and parents for keeping us informed and helping us make the right decision for our students," Kemp said in a news release. "Throughout this process, we will continue to seek the advice of public health officials, school leaders, and families to ensure the health and safety of the educational community. We ask for continued patience and flexibility since circumstances may change, but we encourage families to stay strong and follow the guidance of federal, state and local leaders in the weeks ahead."

The University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia will remain closed for in-person instruction through the rest of the semester since students have already transitioned to all online learning.

Barrow County schools had already announced they would be closed until April 13. The school district is referring people to its website at barrow.k12.ga.us for the latest information on home learning, meals for students in need and other topics. 

The board of education meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, will be held via teleconference. 

Bethlehem Christian Academy is also currently closed until April 13 but has been making decisions along Kemp's guidance to this point. 

Continue to check barrownewsjournal.com for the latest local and statewide updates. 

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