Atlanta’s latest coronavirus updates: Wednesday, May 20

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

Atlanta coronavirus updates
Atlanta Medical Center on May 12

Photograph by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On Tuesday, hospitalizations for COVID-19 reached their lowest level since early April. Here’s your Wednesday morning update:

• As of publication time, a total of 38,889 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Georgia. 1,684 people have died. 402,940 tests have been conducted. A total of 7,089 of those tested were hospitalized at the time. [GA Dept. of Public Health]

• The amount of patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 has dropped 34 percent since the beginning on the month, Governor Brian Kemp announced on Tuesday. Data from the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency shows that 986 Georgians were currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 as of 1 p.m. yesterday, the lowest amount since the agency began tracking hospitalizations on April 8. The news is certainly promising, but as the AJC notes, it doesn’t necessarily mean new coronavirus cases are down. “There is about a two week lag between when a person is infected, shows symptoms, is admitted to the hospital, gets tested and receives the results,” the AJC says. Says the governor in his press release: “Our hospitalization numbers continue to show encouraging signs in our fight against COVID-19, but we must remain vigilant in our efforts to combat this virus. I continue to ask Georgians to practice social distancing, follow the advice of public health officials, and protect the elderly and medically fragile.” [Office of the Governor/AJC]

• Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has extended an administrative order that allows restaurants to sell unopened wine and “malt beverages” (which includes beer and cocktails) to go. The order now lasts through June 30. [AJC]

• Beginning today, poling sites in Fulton County will begin opening two hours earlier—at 7 a.m.—to help reduce morning lines and wait times. The county election board held an emergency meeting on Tuesday morning after poll workers reported long lines on Monday. The longest lines were reported at the C.T. Martin Recreation Center and South Fulton Service Center, both of which will be expanding their voting area into larger spaces today. The Alpharetta Library will add more space tomorrow, and extra voting machines will be added at Garden Hills Elementary and Sandy Springs Library. [AJC]

• Wellstar Health System is furloughing 1,070 employees, or about 4.4 percent of its workers, 11 Alive reports. They are also temporarily reducing hours for more than 1,800 employees. While medical workers are fighting COVID-19, medical systems across the country are losing money due to a the lack of patients coming in for other procedures. Wellstar says they expect patient volume to return to nearly normal by the end of the year. [11 Alive]

• The Canteen—the Midtown food hall home to Fred’s Meat and Bread, Yalla, TGM Soup Co., and Square Bar—has closed for good due to the pandemic. Owner Jennifer Johnson told Eater Atlanta that the business relied on foot traffic from Georgia Tech and Tech Square. Johnson said she and the restaurant’s partners (chef Todd Ginsberg, Ben Johnson, and Shelley Sweet) tried to get the building’s landlord to agree to some form of rent relief (the partners owed nearly $20,000 in rent for April and May) but were unsuccessful. [Eater Atlanta]

• Some heartwarming news—a few weeks ago the AJC published a story, written by Matt Kempner, on Cato Shoe Repair in Buckhead, a small business owned by elderly couple Joe and Hattie Jordan. The story illustrated how COVID-19 had decimated their business and the couple’s concerns for its survival. But since the story’s publication, Joe Jordan says they have received $20,000 in donations, including a $10,000 donation from one donor whose mother frequented the shop. Jordan says the money will cover the business’s back rent and utility bills. [AJC]