Atlanta’s latest coronavirus updates: Friday, April 17

A quick roundup of what's happening in metro Atlanta and what you may have missed

Atlanta coronavirus updates
For the second week in a row, the city turned blue on Thursday as a symbol of support for essential workers.

Photograph by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On Thursday, the federal government released new recommendations for re-opening the country and Georgia unemployment continued to surge. Here’s your Friday morning update:

• There are now 16,368 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia, 1,108 more cases than yesterday morning. 617 people have died, 41 more than yesterday morning. 3,260 have been hospitalized. 67,939 tests have been conducted. [GA Dept. of Public Health]

• The state Department of Public Health has a new set of charts logging cumulative and active cases of COVID-19. You can see just how much the virus has spread since February. [GA Dept. of Public Health]

• For those in Fulton County, a WSB-TV reporter also tweeted this handout from the Fulton Board of Health:

• The president released new federal recommendations for re-opening the country after coronavirus lockdown, a three-stage plan that gradually opens businesses and offices. States are advised to wait to implement the first phase of the plan—which would maintain social distancing requirements and limit gatherings of more than 10 people, but allow workplaces, gyms, restaurants, churches, movie theaters, and sports venues to slowly re-open with limited capacity—until COVID-19 cases have declined for 14 days and hospitals have adequate space for treating patients and testing for healthcare workers. Governor Brian Kemp has said he will follow the federal guidelines and in the coming days work on a specific plan for Georgia. [CNN/AJC]

• In the past four weeks, 861,000 Georgians—10 percent of the state population—have filed unemployment claims. “We are reaching unprecedented claim levels of almost one million Georgians filing for unemployment,” Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Thursday in a press release. “That is one in every ten people who are turning to the GDOL for unemployment assistance.” Georgia’s unemployment rate grew to 4.7 percent in March. The amount of people who filed for unemployment in March was also higher than the annual totals for both 2018 and 2019. [GA Dept. of Labor]

• The Global Health Crisis Coordination Center has opened in Atlanta. The nonprofit is part of the CDC Foundation and has been in the works for 18 months, but opened ahead of schedule to fight COVID-19. The center will work with public and private businesses to coordinate public health resources, share information, and coordinate emergency plans. [GHCCC]

• Governor Kemp signed an executive order that protects hospitals, mobile clinics, surgical centers, rehab centers, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities from personal injury lawsuits during the coronavirus outbreak. (Under Kemp’s order, however, lawsuits can sill be filed in instances of intentional harm or gross negligence.) But because the order doesn’t specifically apply the lawsuit protection only to cases involving COVID-19, some can argue it could be applied to any type of malpractice. Others argue the protections are necessary in the pandemic; other states, including New York, have passed similar measures, however those were less broad and applied to COVID-19 cases specifically. [AJC]

• After just two weeks, the federal Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Plan loan fund has been completely tapped out. [11 Alive]

• MARTA is cutting most of its bus routes beginning Monday, leaving only the 40 most trafficked out of the transit system’s 110 routes. Service on the remaining routes will be doubled. Bus ridership is down 40 percent; rail ridership is down almost 80 percent. [AJC]

• Saturday will be the last day to drop off donations to Goodwill of North Georgia until the retail stores can re-open. Goodwill cites a surplus of donations as the reason. [Goodwill]

• Researchers at Georgia State have found that a rheumatoid arthritis drug that has been on the market since the 1980s has promise in fighting COVID-19. Read more about the potential treatment here.