Atlanta’s latest coronavirus updates: Thursday, April 30

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

Atlanta coronavirus updates
A bottle of hand sanitizer is seen at the hostess stand of Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar as it reopened for dine-in seating on April 27 in Decatur.

Photograph by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On Wednesday, more testing sites opened, and the fact that Georgia teens can skip their road tests made national news. Here’s your Thursday morning update:

• As of publication time, there are now 25,897 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia. 1,101 people have died. 143,790 tests have been conducted. 5,091 of those tested were hospitalized at the time. [GA Dept. of Public Health]

• Have you been confused by the many numbers and charts distributed by the Georgia Department of Public Health? You’re not alone. When Georgia DPH re-vamped its coronavirus dashboard on Monday (the one linked in the bullet point above), it removed a lot of previously available data such as a daily count of completed tests, and a lot of data in the new dashboard “is published in a format that makes it difficult for researchers to use,” according to the AJC. And while there are now important disclaimers on the data and an FAQ to help explain what it all means, some statistics are still not what they may appear to be for a casual reader. For example, on the “hospitalization” figure above, the AJC clarifies, “That figure is not the number of people currently hospitalized in Georgia for the novel coronavirus. It’s the number of Georgians who happened to be hospitalized when they were tested.” So if you are hospitalized post-testing, you don’t appear in that count. (Likewise, we’ve adjusted our wording that data accordingly.) Ultimately, all this confusion lead can lead to distrust among Georgians, and trust is a critical need in a pandemic. [AJC]

• The Fulton County Board of Health is hosting a “neighborhood testing site,” currently stationed at the McGhee Tennis Center in Southwest Atlanta. The walk-up only site is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is designed for nearby residents who do not have access to a car. The test site will likely move to a new location on Friday. [Fox 5]

• The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and CORE Response, an LA-based nonprofit, will begin offering coronavirus tests—both drive-thru and walk-up—at the Home Depot Backyard, the tailgating lot adjacent to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Head to this website to see if you qualify ad schedule an appointment. [AJC]

• 388 poultry workers in Georgia—one of the state’s largest industries—have tested positive for COVID-19 and one person has died. The number accounts for 2 percent of the the state’s poultry plant employees. Virus outbreaks have been an issue in meatpacking plants across the country. The infection rate has also spiked in Hall County, which is home to a lot of the state’s poultry industry. [AJC]

• Under Governor Kemp’s executive order, the Georgia Department of Driver Services is allowing teenagers (or anyone applying for a driver’s license) to skip the road test due to social distancing concerns. Instead, WSB-TV says, they have to submit affidavits that says they’ve had 40 hours of driver training from a parent or instructor. (If that thought makes you anxious, Georgia DDS Commissioner Spencer Moore told WSB-TV that most teens who have that much drive time pass their road test on the first try.)

That said, actor Chris Pratt, who has filmed several movies in Atlanta, had a few thoughts. [WSB-TV/Twitter]

The Atlantic staff writer Amanda Mull took an in-depth look at Governor Kemp’s decision to allow several Georgia businesses to re-open last week. Mull spoke with business owners across the state who were both choosing to stay closed and those who opened doors, and no one was cavalier about their choice. “In the grips of a pandemic, the approach is a morbid experiment in just how far states can push their people,” Mull writes. “Georgians are now the largely unwilling canaries in an invisible coal mine, sent to find out just how many individuals need to lose their job or their life for a state to work through a plague.” [The Atlantic]

• Writer and epidemiologist Keren Landman, who is also an Atlanta contributor, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about Georgia’s place as the proverbial canary in the coal mine. She outlines lessons that other states can learn from the decision to re-open so early, and writes, “Somehow, we’ve reached the point where caring about public health has become a progressive issue, while the nation’s economy has become a conservative one. This division is false; no one should have to choose between financial annihilation and helping to spread a deadly disease. But thanks to unforgivable failures of political leadership, business owners in Georgia are bearing the burden of that choice—and the same will happen in every state that follows our lead.” [NYT]

• We also recently published this commentary from Sam Worley about Governor Kemp’s executive order. Here’s a short excerpt:

What a strange situation: a state executive telling his constituents to go out and enjoy their freedom, and so many constituents saying, in effect, We’d prefer not to. But somebody’s got to play the grown-up. Business owners aren’t paid to manage pandemics, yet in this gaping maw of leadership they’re forced into tortured decisions: risk the health of their own employees by opening up, or staying safe and staying closed? Is your business more important than your employees’ lives? Their workers—the customer-facing employees often working for low wages and no health insurance—are the true subjects of Kemp’s experiment, and it’s grotesque that they’re having to rely on nothing more than good wishes from the governor and the magnanimity of their bosses.