Atlanta’s latest coronavirus updates: Friday, March 20

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

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Atlanta coronavirus update closed restaurants
Chick-fil-A restaurants, like this one in in Austell, have had dining rooms closed for several days. Now city and state leaders, including Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, are making closed dining rooms the law.

Photograph by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On Thursday, the state’s confirmed cases surged, Mayor Bottoms closed restaurants for dining in, and Georgia’s senators are facing criticism for trading stocks just before the crisis started. Here’s your Friday morning update:

• There are now 287 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia, up 90 cases from Wednesday. [GA Dept. of Public Health]

• Six more deaths were confirmed, bringing the state’s total to 10. This includes four women in Dougherty County (Albany) aged 42, 67, 69, and 73; a 65-year-old woman in Rome, who may be connected to a cluster of cases at Church at Liberty Square in Cartersville, according to the AJC.

• Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an executive order Thursday to halt dining in at restaurants and close bars, nightclubs, private social clubs, gyms, movie theaters, and arcades. (Restaurants can still offer take-out and delivery.) Many restaurants had already voluntarily closed. Several other metro cities have enacted similar bans including Decatur, Sandy Springs, and Dunwoody. Decatur’s order also allows the sales of unopened beer and wine. [AJC]

• After it was reported that Senate Intelligence Chariman Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) sold off millions in stocks before coronavirus began wrecking havoc on the market, the Daily Beast reported Thursday evening that Senator Kelly Loeffler also sold off hundreds of thousands in stocks “in the days and weeks after a private, all-senators meeting on the novel coronavirus” on January 24. Loeffler also purchased “stock worth between $100,000 and $250,000 in Citrix, a technology company that offers teleworking software and which has seen a small bump in its stock price since Loeffler bought in as a result of coronavirus-induced market turmoil,” according to the Daily Beast. At 12:40 a.m. Friday, Loeffler responded to the article on Twitter saying, “I want to set the record straight: This is a ridiculous & baseless attack. I don’t make investment decisions for my portfolio. Investment decisions are made by multiple third-party advisors without my or my husband’s knowledge or involvement. As confirmed in the periodic transaction report to Senate Ethics, I was informed of these purchases and sales on 02/16/2020 – three weeks after they were made.” [CNN/Daily Beast/Twitter]

The AJC is also reporting Senator David Perdue made nearly 100 stock sales and purchases during the same period of time as Loeffler, noting that “he invested up to $245,000 in Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company, during multiple transactions around the same time that members of Congress began sounding the alarm that more should be done to address the spread of the virus.” The AJC reached out to his spokesperson, who denied any wrongdoing, saying, “[Purdue] is not involved in any day-to-day investment decisions and uses an outside financial advisor to manage all assets and publicly report every transaction in a timely manner.” [AJC]

• Lots of folks on social media have been posting pictures of Atlanta’s virtually nonexistent traffic, and MARTA usage is way down as well. The transit system said on Twitter, “rail ridership is down 54% and bus ridership is down 36% compared to last month.”

• The state has set up a coronavirus hotline—844-442-2681—where you can ask about testing and report possible scams. [11Alive]

• Atlanta’s parks and recreation department has closed playgrounds and golf courses, among other services. City parks themselves remain open. [Twitter]

• Athens has become the first in the state to issue a “shelter-in-place” order, similar to ones also enacted in California, that requires residents to stay home unless they are traveling to the grocery store or to pick up food/supplies or going to the doctor or to work. Residents can still walk, run, or bike outside. [Athens Banner-Herald]

• Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae teamed up with nonprofit Love Beyond Walls to install portable handwashing stations around Hurt Park downtown for the homeless. [WSBTV]

• Emory has canceled spring commencement ceremonies. [Emory]

• Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q has laid off more than 130 members of its staff as restaurants continue facing a national crisis. [Instagram]

• As the situation for restaurant workers grows more and more dire, Atlantans are trying to make it easier to gather ways to donate to workers in-need through databases of GoFundMe fundraisers and other relief funds, along with lists of restaurants who sell merch and gift cards. More on how to help restaurant workers here. [Eater Atlanta]

• Dad’s Garage has been livestreaming original comedy specials on Twitch for the past week and now plans to air some of their older shows on the streaming platform as well, starting with Wrath of Con at 8 p.m. on Friday night. [Twitter/Twitch]

• Looking for a new Netflix binge? We rounded up all the Atlanta-filmed TV shows and movies we could find available on streaming.

• One of our former editors, Rebecca Burns, was on vacation in Austria when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. In a week, she watched the world change both at home and in Europe, learned the German word for panic shopping (hamsterkäufe), and received a less-than-thorough screening when she arrived home at Hartsfield-Jackson. Read her full account here.

• This cartoon by the AJC’s Mike Luckovich has been spreading across the internet since it was published on Wednesday.

• Finally, Spike, Atlanta United’s service dog-in-training, is providing tons of smiles via his social media accounts. Do you need to borrow his bear? He’d be happy to lend it to you.

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