On Thursday, Governor Brian Kemp announced that bars and nightclubs would be able to re-open on June 1. Here’s your Friday morning update:
• As of publication time, a total of 45,572 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Georgia. 1,972 people have died. 532,007 tests (virus and antibody) have been conducted. A total of 7,838 of those tested were hospitalized at the time. [GA Dept. of Public Health]
• In a press conference yesterday, Governor Brian Kemp announced a new executive order that allows bars and nightclubs to reopen, along with amusement parks, and allows gatherings of up to 25 people. Live performance venues are still required to remain closed. Similar to restaurants, bars and nightclubs, which can re-open June 1, have to meet 39 safety guidelines and must limit capacity to either 25 people or 35 percent of the fire capacity, with no more than six people to a party.
Amusement and water parks can re-open on June 12 and must also adhere to a list of safety guidelines. For “open-air” rides such as roller coasters, log flumes, and trains, guests are to be seated every other row, with only members of the same household seated in the same row. For free-fall and rafting rides, guests that don’t live in the same household are to be seated six-feet apart. For rides like Ferris wheels, only household members can be seated in each car.
Sports teams can also practice or “engage in other in-person operations” provided they comply with their specific league’s rules and state guidelines.
• Looking at the state’s data dashboard, it does appear that Georgia saw an increase in COVID-19 cases during the week of May 11, with a possible new high point for cases on May 18 (that date is still in the 14-day unconfirmed window but the case total is unlikely to decrease). The AJC also noticed an increase in cases in its reporting of the data, but was careful to note that we do not yet know if this is due to increased testing or increased disease spread, or if this will be a longterm increase or just a blip. Emory’s Dr. Carlos del Rio said that it’s likely due to both an increase in testing and disease spread, the AJC reports. Dr. Colleen Kraft, director at Emory’s Clinical Virology Research Laboratory, who spoke with del Rio at a press conference, said “I don’t think we yet know the implications of sort of being together and people doing their activities together yet. But we will within the next month.” At Kemp’s press conference, he attributed the case increase to a backlog of data that was recently entered, the AJC reports, however, the state primarily logs its case chart by the date symptoms first appeared. “We’re not seeing anything that’s concerning,” Kemp said at the press conference. “We expect that population’s percent of positives is going to be higher than the normal population, so it’s not unusual that we’re seeing a little bit of flattening of our downward trajectory or perhaps a little increase on a certain day.” [AJC 1/AJC 2/AJC 3]
• Unemployment in Georgia has reached 11.9 percent, the highest rate ever recorded, with more than 580,000 Georgians unemployed. “This is the highest unemployment rate on record, eclipsing the previous high of 10.6 percent that occurred in December 2010,” labor commissioner Mark Butler said in a press release. “However, the cause of this high unemployment rate differs greatly from that of the previous record, and I have no doubt that we will recover just as quickly and get back to our record lows once again.” The amount of claims processed last week (177,731) once again decreased from the week prior. [GA Department of Labor]
• CVS is doubling the amount of drive-thru testing sites, adding testing to 23 more CVS locations. Patients will swab themselves at the test sites, delivering tests through pharmacy drive-thru windows. You can view a list of the new locations here. [AJC]
• After a postponement, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs announced that the Atlanta Jazz Festival is officially canceled for this year. The festival is set to return on May 29 and 30, 2021. Live jazz sessions have been broadcast on Facebook Live all this month and will continue this weekend. [Atlanta Jazz Festival]