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 216,596 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Georgia. 4,199 people have died. 1.8 million viral tests have been conducted, and 10.9 percent of those have been positive. 2,865 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. [GA Dept. of Public Health/GEMA]
• The biggest story of the week came out of North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia, which started in-person classes on Monday. Not long after, photos of crowded hallways packed with students, most of them not wearing masks, went viral on social media. Then, the story exploded—a sophomore was allegedly suspended for posting photos (her mother told CNN the suspension was for using a phone and social media during the school day and violating student privacy by posting the photo), while the superintendent stressed that the photos showed students in passing periods where they were only in contact briefly. The sophomore later had that suspension canceled. A recording also leaked of students being warned over the school’s intercom system not to post additional photos and videos that would put the school in a negative light. On Saturday, the school announced that six students and three staffers had tested positive for COVID-19. And finally today, the school announced to plans to close and shift to virtual learning for the next two days. While North Paulding made national headlines, it wasn’t an easy week for other school districts that opened for in-person learning on Monday, with Cherokee County Schools reporting that 10 staffers and 7 students have tested positive for COVID-19. [AJC 1/AJC 2/CNN/Marietta Daily Journal/Cherokee County School District/WSB-TV via Twitter]
• Meanwhile, closer to home, Atlanta Public Schools pushed back its first day of classes, which are set to begin virtual-only, to August 24. The school system also changed the dress code to require students to wear masks if and when in-person learning does resume. Gwinnett County Schools, which will begin classes virtually on August 12, announced plans to begin in-person learning in phases beginning August 26, with hopes for all students who chose in-person learning to be back in classrooms by September 6. Some parents in Gwinnett held protests in late July calling for in-person learning, while some teachers protested this week against opening too soon. Cobb County Schools, which begin virtually on August 17, also announced plans for a phased return to in-person learning but did not set dates. [AJC 1/AJC 2/Gwinnett Daily Post/WSB-TV/AJC 3]
• Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill on Wednesday that will protect businesses and health care providers alike from being sued for negligence in light of the pandemic, provided that they follow social distancing and safety guidelines from the health department. Those entities can still be sued for gross negligence. The protections sunset next July. [AJC]
• A new “mega-testing” site is set to open tomorrow at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport parking lot (1800 Sullivan Road), which is set to be able to do 5,000 tests per day. It will be open for at least 12 days and is free. Register here. [CBS 46]
• The owner of Sweet Auburn Seafood announced plans to close the restaurant at the end of August, citing a combination of financial impact from COVID-19 and violence in the area. In Grant Park, cocktail bar Cardinal and neighbor Third Street Goods have closed permanently due to the pandemic. [WSB-TV/Eater Atlanta]
• Atlanta United has announced a series of six games, three at home and three away, as the next part of its season. The home games will be played with no fans present. [ATLUTD]