Atlanta’s latest coronavirus updates: Friday, April 24

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

Atlanta latest coronavirus updates
The empty street in front of State Farm Arena.

Photograph by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On Thursday, the governor released additional guidelines for businesses planning to re-open. Here’s your Friday morning update:

• There are now 21,883 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia. 881 people have died. 4,154 have been hospitalized. 101,062 tests have been conducted. [GA Dept. of Public Health]

• The Georgia Department of Labor processed 247,003 more unemployment claims last week, bringing the total in the past month to 1,090,536, which is more than the combined total for the previous three years. [GA DOL]

• Governor Brian Kemp has released the “Reviving a Healthy Georgia” executive order, which is essentially a version of his executive order from Monday with many more specific guidelines and situations, including the safety measures restaurants, salons, movie theaters, gyms, bowling alleys, and other businesses must take to re-open. It requires Georgians to continue social distancing and says that residents are “strongly encouraged” to wear a mask at all times outside except when eating, drinking, or exercising.

Restaurant dining rooms are to allow no more than 10 people per 500 square feet, and employees are required to wear face masks at all times. Contact between wait staff and patrons is to be “limited,” and salad bars and buffets are not to be used. Restaurants are asked to use rolled silverware as opposed to silverware placed on the table, and the order advises removing self-serve items (plastic silverware, drink lids, condiments, etc) and having employees distribute such items instead. No more than six are to be seated at a table.

Gyms are asked to suspend group classes and close off areas like basketball courts and pools. For hair and body art studios, one patron per service provider is to be in the building at any time and no more than half the employees are to be working at one time. For bowling alleys, no more than 6 people can be at a lane, and lanes are to be staggered. [Office of the Governor]

• Not only do employers have to worry about safety and the risk for employees and customers getting sick, Atlanta lawyers also told the AJC they should be concerned about lawsuits. The article notes that nationally, Wal-Mart has already been sued by the family of an employee who died of COVID-19. One Atlanta lawyer recommended businesses post plenty of signage that informs customers and employees of expected safety protocols. [AJC]

• Plenty of Georgians are asking questions about how the state releases data on coronavirus cases, as the charts and information on the department of public health website can be confusing and difficult to understand at first glance. As the AJC reports, part of the issue is that the state has been using different metrics for a “new” case; one new chart shows a new case logged as “the day the symptoms began or the sample was taken, whichever is earlier.” But, the AJC says, “the cumulative counts DPH has released every day since March show the date of a new case as the day the agency received the results of the test.” So, depending on which numbers you’re looking at, our caseload is either rising or dropping. Add to the fact that the numbers change frequently due to backlogs in reporting, and add to the fact that we still don’t have enough testing, and, well, it’s a mess. Regardless, as one public health expert told the AJC, “The number of cases today or tomorrow shouldn’t affect an individual’s choices in their behavior.” So, stay home if you can. [AJC]

• And on that note, writer and physician Keren Landman discusses the issue with Georgia’s confusing data and the difficult decisions business owners are facing in our latest story, “Re-opening Georgia for business is a life or death decision—and the data doesn’t help.”

• President Donald Trump spoke out again against Governor Kemp for the second day in a row at his daily coronavirus press conference, saying that he “wasn’t happy” with the governor for choosing to re-open certain businesses this week. White House administrators told the Associated Press that Trump called Kemp on Tuesday to praise his decision, but on Wednesday, Dr. Deborah Birx, of the White House’s federal coronavirus task force, told the president it was too soon for Georgia to re-open. Trump then reportedly called Kemp to tell him to rescind the order, which Kemp did not do. [AP]

• APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said the school system will hold in-person graduation ceremonies no earlier than July, but possibly as far as in the fall or winter. [AJC]

• Several Atlanta chapters of the NAACP are calling for a “Black Out, Sick Out,” encouraging people to continue staying home and noting that COVID-19 has been shown to disproportionately affect communities of color. [WSB-TV]

• A new drive-thru testing site will open today in Alpharetta at the Walgreens at 11855 Jones Bridge Road. Testing is by appointment only. More information can be found here. [Office of the Governor]

• If you’re feeling a bit stressed about the state of the world, a long, slow walk around your neighborhood might just be what you need. Writer and longtime Atlanta contributor Josh Green wrote about what he realized on one five-mile trek from Kirkwood to Decatur and back.

• Have you seen Big Poppa the sad English bulldog? Atlantan Rashida Ellis posted a photo to Twitter of her good boy on sitting sadly on the patio of her apartment, saying that he missed playing with neighbors. The post has received more than 800,000 likes and attention from celebrities like Maisie Williams and Ellen DeGeneres. Explaining the popularity of the post, Ellis told Buzzfeed, “Not only is he so sad and cute and you want everything to change for him, but you want everything to change for yourself, too, because we’re all in this situation.” [Buzzfeed News]