Atlanta’s latest coronavirus updates: Sunday, July 12

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

Atlanta coronavirus news updates
People get tested for COVID-19 at a free walk-up testing site in Fulton County on July 11.

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 114,401 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Georgia. 2,996 people have died. 1.06 million viral tests have been conducted, and 9.7 percent of those have been positive. 2,446 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. [GA Dept. of Public Health/GEMA]

• Another day, another broken record—on Friday, the state reported 4,484 new cases of COVID-19, the highest amount of new cases reported in a single day. The number was lower on Saturday—3,190—but the amount of cases reported daily in Georgia is still far higher than it has ever been, a upward trend that has been continuing to grow since the beginning of June. [AJC]

• On Monday, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced on Twitter that she has tested positive for COVID-19. She said that she was asymptomatic and that her husband and one of her four children have also tested positive. [Twitter/AJC]

• On Wednesday, following mask mandates in Savannah, Athens, and East Point, Mayor Bottoms signed an executive order requiring people in the city of Atlanta to wear face coverings when out in public. In the briefest of explanations: The order applies to everyone over the age of 10 who does not have a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering. The covering must cover the mouth and nose—disposable masks, cloth masks, bandanas, and scarves are all fine. You do not need to wear a mask in your own home, car, in a pool, while eating or drinking, or while outside if you can social distance from others. You can read our full breakdown of the order here or read the order itself here. A handful of other metro Atlanta suburbs have also passed mask mandates. So far, in the metro area, if you’re out and about in Atlanta, East Point, College Park, Brookhaven, Decatur, South Fulton, and Fairburn, you need to wear a face covering. [Atlanta/WSB-TV]

• On Friday, Mayor Bottoms announced that she was pushing the city back into Phase 1 of her COVID-19 re-opening plan, which encourages people to stay home unless necessary to leave and recommends restaurants offer takeout and delivery rather than dine-in service. This drew the ire of Governor Brian Kemp, who immediately pointed out on Twitter that the guidelines are “unenforceable.” So what does this mean for Atlantans? It means that based on the amount of rising cases, the mayor is recommending that Atlantans stay home unless necessary and order takeout rather than dining in. But they are not required by law to do that, nor are restaurants required to close their dining rooms. [AJC]

• As hospitalizations grow statewide, Governor Kemp announced that he will be reactivating the temporary hospital at the Georgia World Congress Center downtown.  Hospital ICU beds are rapidly filling up statewide, with Atlanta Medical Center at ICU capacity and Kennestone Hospital at 6 percent availability, the AJC reported on Thursday. More than 2,400 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, higher than a previous peak in April of 1,906 patients. GEMA’s Saturday report showed the state was at 81 percent capacity of critical care beds and 79 percent capacity of general inpatient beds. [AJC 1/AJC 2/GEMA]

• The metro area’s K-12 school systems are trying to determine their re-opening plans as the new school year rapidly approaches. Several school districts, including Fulton, Cobb, and Gwinnett County schools, have pushed back their start dates to mid-August. Some districts are also requiring students and staff wear masks at all times. Here is a very brief breakdown of what the plans are right now:

Atlanta Public Schools: Schools will start on August 24 with virtual learning for all students for at least nine weeks or “until we have entered minimal/moderate spread.” Meals will be distributed starting August 10. Students and staff will be required to wear masks upon return to in-person learning. Read the full plan here.

Fulton County Schools: Schools will begin August 17 with choice of in-person or virtual learning. Staff are required to wear masks; students are strongly encouraged to do so. Masks are “expected” while riding the bus due to difficulties in social distancing. More information here.

DeKalb County Schools: The district is set to announce re-opening plans on Monday.

Gwinnett County Schools: Schools will begin August 12 with choice of in-person or digital learning. Staff and students are required to wear masks. More information here.

Cobb County Schools: Schools start on August 17 with choice of in-person or virtual learning. Students are strongly encouraged to wear masks but not required. More information here.

Clayton County Schools: Schools start on August 3 with a blended model of in-person and virtual learning. However, the AJC reports that that date may be pushed back to August 10 and district is also considering a virtual start to the school year. More information here.

• After heavy criticism, the University System of Georgia announced it will require everyone on campus to wear masks, beginning July 15. [WABE]

• Centennial Olympic Park has closed to the public indefinitely, citing a lack of funding due to COVID-19 canceling events. [WABE]

• The Varsity in Midtown temporarily closed after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. While the restaurant reopened quickly, its drive-in service is closed for the foreseeable future. [CBS 46]

• Dragon Con, originally scheduled for Labor Day weekend, has officially been canceled for 2020. The pop culture convention annually draws more than 80,000 people to downtown, and convention co-chair Rachel Reeves said in a press release that “after an exhaustive attempt to organize a much smaller, more focused, and socially distanced convention, it became apparent that we could not, in good faith, move forward with our 2020 event.” Instead, Dragon Con will host free virtual programming including past panels and new videos. [Official press release]

• The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the Division II conference that includes Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University, announced it will not hold any sports for the rest of 2020. Morehouse had previously announced it was suspending sports this year. [AJC]

• Four Atlanta Braves players—Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, Touki Toussaint, and Pete Kozma—tested positive for COVID-19. Nick Markakis and Felix Hernandez have both chosen to opt-out of playing in the 2020 season, with Markakis saying that Freeman’s illness “opened my eyes.” [AJC/11 Alive]