Atlanta’s latest coronavirus updates: Sunday, August 16

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

Atlanta coronavirus COVID-19 news updates
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp puts on a mask after speaking at a press conference announcing statewide expanded COVID-19 testing on August 10.

Photograph by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

In early June, we paused our daily coronavirus updates. However, we will continue to provide updates weekly. Here’s what you need to know right now.

• As of publication time, a total of 237,030 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Georgia. 4,702 people have died. 2 million viral tests have been conducted, and 10.7 percent of those have been positive. 2,603 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. [GA Dept. of Public Health/GEMA]

• While statewide cases appear to be plateauing, this week was a deadly one for Georgia, with two days of 100+ COVID-19 deaths reported on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday had the most COVID-19 deaths reported in a single day in Georgia at 122. And according to the AJC in an article published Wednesday, “Georgia also has set weekly records for reported deaths in each of the past three weeks.” Experts told the paper the trend is likely to continue, as a high death toll tends to follow high case reporting. [AJC]

• After dropping his lawsuit against the City of Atlanta for its mask mandate earlier this week, Governor Brian Kemp signed a new executive order on Saturday allowing cities to impose their own mask orders (as long as the county has at least 100 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in a 14-day period, which currently applies in all but two Georgia counties). Under the governor’s order, the maximum fine for not complying with a mask mandate is $50, and violators must be issued a warning before a fine can be imposed. The order can also only be enforced on private property if the business owner consents to it, giving individual businesses the ability to opt-out. The executive order also extends other previous statewide COVID-19 restrictions, such as banning gatherings of more than 50 and a shelter-in-place order for those with underlying medical conditions. Atlanta’s mask mandate still stands, as it has since it was declared in July. [AJC]

The AJC obtained a report from the White House’s coronavirus task force that “strongly” recommended that Georgia enforce a statewide mask mandate and advocated for closing bars, nightclubs, and gyms. It also recommended that gatherings be capped at 10 people and that restaurant dining room capacity continue to be reduced. [AJC]

• Cherokee County Public Schools has now closed three of its high schools for in-person learning after rising COVID-19 cases. Etowah High Schools—a school that drew controversy on its first day when a photo of the senior class, posing largely unmasked, circulated on social media—closed Tuesday after 14 confirmed cases were reported among students and staff, and Woodstock High closed Wednesday, also after 14 confirmed cases. Creekview High School is now closing after 25 confirmed cases. All three schools are set to re-open for in-person learning on August 31. [CBS 46]

• If you live in Tucker, you can request a free mask from the city, which has acquired 21,000 masks for its residents. You can request a mask here or by emailing or calling 678-597-9040. [AJC]

• As the debate over whether or not to hold college sports this fall continues, Dr. Jonathan Kim, the chief of sports cardiology at Emory University, is warning of a heart condition that could impact student athletes who contract COVID-19. Kim says that 20 percent of Emory’s COVID-19 cases have “evidence of cardiac injury,” and some cases of myocarditis, or heart inflammation, have already been diagnosed in student athletes across the U.S. Kim recommends that athletes who become sick with COVID-19 resume training and exercise slowly. [GPB]