Bars and nightclubs can re-open beginning today, and many have concerns about how protesting will impact COVID-19 spread. Here’s your Monday morning update:
• As of publication time, a total of 47,496 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Georgia. 2,055 people have died. 562,815 tests (virus and antibody) have been conducted. A total of 8,033 of those tested were hospitalized at the time. [GA Dept. of Public Health]
• Bars and nightclubs are officially allowed to re-open today as long as they incorporate new safety guidelines. But just as all restaurants didn’t re-open for dine-in on April 27, don’t expect every business to welcome customers right away. The AJC reports that several popular bars, including Mary’s, MJQ, Euclid Avenue Yacht Club, Smith’s Olde Bar, Righteous Room, the Music Room, and the Sound Table will not re-open tonight. Johnny’s Hideaway, which had previously re-opened for dining, will bring back its dancefloor but with reduced capacity. [AJC]
• After a weekend of local and nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, many are wondering if the large protests will lead to an uptick in COVID-19 cases. On Saturday, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told Atlantans that if they participated in a protest, they should get tested for COVID-19. But we don’t really know how much protests will contribute to virus spread. In Atlanta, while the crowds were thick with people loudly speaking, an action that increases virus spread, many protestors wore face masks, which helps decrease transmission. The protest also took place outside, whereas indoor spaces have been found to be more conductive to coronavirus spread. Emory physician Carlos del Rio told the AJC that he’s concerned about increased disease spread but that there’s just not enough information to determine what will happen. “When you are screaming or shouting and you are infected, you are more likely to transmit. But you are outside and because you are outside, the likelihood of transmission decreases,” he told the AJC. “The good news is you are outside; the bad news is that people are congregating and gathering and screaming and many of them are not wearing masks. That to me is concerning.”
For what it’s worth, over in Dallas, Texas, where protests took place this weekend, a physician told the Dallas Morning News that he felt COVID-19 spread at protests was fairly low risk due to the outdoor environment. “If the contact is only for a fleeting moment—less than five minutes—the risks are fairly low,” he told DMN. If it is over an extended amount of time within less than 6 feet of someone infectious, that is high risk.” He said that face masks can help limit aerosol transmission caused by shouting.
• After more than two months of work-from-home, some corporate offices will bring back employees today. At Equifax, the AJC reports, employees will return in staggered shifts, with half of the employees in the office one week and the other half in the office during the next week. A Home Depot spokesperson told the AJC that “a very small group of associates” would soon return to the company’s store support center on Paces Ferry Road. Chick-fil-A began bringing back a limited amount of corporate employees in late May. But many other large employers, including Coca-Cola, are continuing teleworking for now. [AJC]
• Atlanta United will begin training in small groups today. While players originally had to practice alone on their own little segment of field, up to six players can now be on the same part of the field at once and practice passing and shooting drills. Players are still expected to stay 10 feet apart at all times. [Atlanta United press release]
• The Fernbank Museum of Natural History is re-opening for a member preview today through Wednesday, and plans to re-open to the public on Thursday. Like most other attractions that have re-opened, it will incorporate timed tickets and limit capacity. The museum is asking visitors to wear face masks and will not be accepting cash payments. Read all the safety protocols here. [Fernbank]