Atlanta’s latest coronavirus updates: Thursday, May 28

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

Atlanta coronavirus updates
A lone passenger on Hartsfield-Jackson’s plane train on April 20. The airport is slowly seeing passengers return but traffic is down 88 percent from last year.

Photograph by Rob Carr/Getty Images

On Wednesday, the mayor announced Atlanta would enter the next phase of its re-opening plan. Here’s your Thursday morning update:

• As of publication time, a total of 44,932 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Georgia. 1,957 people have died. 523,359 tests (virus and antibody) have been conducted. A total of 7,746 of those tested were hospitalized at the time. [GA Dept. of Public Health]

• Last week, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms unveiled the city’s five-phase re-opening plan, a series of voluntary guidelines that are stricter than what has already been allowed under the statewide executive orders. (Guidelines that appear to contradict the executive orders, such as refraining from dining-in at restaurants, are only recommendations, as city officials cannot legally supersede the statewide executive orders.) On Wednesday, the mayor announced the city was now in phase two of the plan, which still asks Atlantans to stay home except for essential trips, wear masks, and practice social distancing, but green lights private gatherings of no more than 10 people with social distancing. Restaurants are encouraged to continue takeout operations, and special event applications will not be approved by the city. Increased testing and contact tracing will trigger phase three of the plan. [WSB-TV]

• The latest COVID-19 report from the Fulton County Board of Health has been released, with data on new diagnoses by zip code for Fulton, demographic data, how Fulton compares to the statewide data, and data on long-term senior facilities. Read the full report here. [Fulton BOH]

• As the state enters its final week of early voting, Fulton County will extend polling place hours by two and a half hours—until 7 p.m.—beginning Monday. A massive backlog in processing absentee voting applications has left many in Fulton without their absentee ballots as the deadline to be counted—ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on June 9—draws closer. According to the AJC, Fulton elections head Richard Barron said that voters whose applications were processed in the past four days should receive ballots by late next week and encouraged voters to check their status on the state’s My Voter Page. If there is not a status on your ballot (the option may appear grayed-out), call the county at 404-612-7060. Fulton County is also performing COVID-19 testing at three early voting sites today and tomorrow: South Fulton Service Center, Garden Hills Elementary, and Sandy Springs Library. [AJC 1/AJC 2]

• As the pandemic continues to cause economic woes, the state government is looking to reduce spending by 14 percent. As GPB reports, several documents submitted last week to Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget propose more than $3.5 billion in cuts. Among the items proposed, a nearly $1.5 billion decrease in funding to K-12 schools, layoffs at the University System of Georgia, and even one-day-per-month furloughs for epidemiologists at the department of public health, as well as decreased funding to county health departments. The department of corrections would close the state prison in Mitchell County, as well as a handful of transition and probation detention centers. You can read the full documents here per GPB. Lawmakers will meet to decide on the cuts in June. [GPB News]

• Passengers are slowly returning to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, but general manager John Selden says a full economic recovery for the airport could take two to five years, according to the AJC. Airport traffic has declined 88 percent from last year after reaching a low point earlier in the pandemic of a 97 percent decline in passenger traffic. Only 310 of 347 concessions are open, with Concourses B and E still closed. The airport is eligible for more than $300 million in federal CARES Act relief funding, the AJC says, which Selden said will be used to pay bills and employees. [AJC]

• The Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta will not re-open this summer, instead shifting to online programing for kids. [AJC]