Counties in Georgia enact restrictions as virus spreads

ATLANTA (AP) — Counties in Georgia continued to place restrictions on businesses and gatherings on Monday, as cases of the new coronavirus increased.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has ordered schools shut but has refrained from taking stronger steps like ordering restaurants and nonessential businesses to close, and instead left the decision to local governments.

By noon Monday, confirmed cases in the state rose to 772, up from the 620 cases the state was reporting Sunday, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. The death toll remained at 25.

Metro Atlanta’s DeKalb County, which has 75 confirmed cases, is the latest county to order restrictions aimed at helping to slow the spread of the virus.

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond issued an executive order Monday that prohibits gatherings of 10 or more people, closes playgrounds and asks all residents to shelter in place “as much as possible.” Beginning Tuesday, the order stipulates that restaurants and bars are prohibited from having dine-in service and businesses like bowling alleys, nail salons and barbers are limited to a maximum occupancy of 10 people.

DeKalb joins several counties including Athens-Clarke County, home to the University of Georgia, as well as hard-hit Dougherty County in southwest Georgia in implementing restrictions.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.

Of the dead, the youngest two were 42 and the oldest two were 85, with an average age of 66, according to Department of Public Health records. Dougherty County has recorded six deaths, while Cobb County has five. No other county has more than two.

Meanwhile, at least four members of the Georgia state Senate have now tested positive after Republican Sen. Brandon Beach of Alpharetta became the first to do so last week. Republican Sen. Republican Kay Kirkpatrick of Marietta, Republican Sen. Bruce Thompson of White and Democratic Sen. Nikema Williams of Atlanta, also the chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, have announced positive diagnoses. Thompson said he was released from Northside Cherokee hospital on Sunday after a period in the intensive care unit. “While I am feeling much better, I plan to remain at home in self-quarantine for the immediate future,” Thompson wrote on Facebook.

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Reprinted courtesy of The Associated Press