Cobb County declares state of emergency, orders residents to 'shelter in place'

Cobb County Commission Chairman Mike Boyce issued an executive order on Tuesday declaring a state of emergency to help combat the coronavirus. The order also directs county citizens to shelter in place.

In a release sent to FOX 5 News, Cobb County will begin to prohibit public gatherings of 10 or more, regardless of location, starting noon on March 25 until April 15. In addition, all parks and recreation buildings have been closed

“This is unprecedented times for the nation, state and Cobb County,” Chairman Boyce was quoted as saying in the release. “The health and safety of our residents is our top priority. We are taking the necessary steps as recommended by public health experts to ensure that the county is prepared and responding to this virus, and this order helps us do that.”

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The declaration also cuts hours for “essential businesses” to no earlier than 6 a.m. and no later than 9 p.m. It also closed all dining rooms to the public, still allowing for take-out or deliveries. It also mandates social distancing of 6-feet between individuals while in public.

“If we need to consider closing all non-essential businesses and tighten other provisions we will do that to protect the residents of this County,” the chairman said.

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In addition, Cobb County has activated its Emergency Operation Plan, which mobilizes and organizes the county to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are encouraging all our departments to consider every opportunity to partner with our citizens and businesses to alleviate and ameliorate the economic impact of this pandemic,” said County Manager Rob Hosack.

The release reads in part:

“The local declaration helps remove roadblocks and allows the County to prioritize resources, seek intergovernmental resources, handle procurement issues, coordinate an effective response and work to help County residents respond to this pandemic emergency.”

During Tuesday’s specially called meeting, Dr. Janet Memark, Director of Cobb & Douglas Public Health, addressed commissioners about the fight against the COVID-19 virus.

“We only have one weapon,” Dr. Memark said. “We have no vaccine and we have no medicine, the only thing we have is to keep people apart to keep transmission from happening.”

As of Tuesday evening, there were 86 confirmed coronavirus cases in the county. 

State health officials said they expect to see more confirmed cases and deaths as testing continues and the virus spreads within local communities.

LIVE: Interactive map tracks global spread of COVID-19

DPH says it is working closely with the CDC, and state partners to respond to an outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S., including Georgia. The goal is to quickly identify cases of COVID-19 and take the appropriate public health action to reduce its spread and protect the general public. 

Public health officials have urged social distancing to slow down or stop the spread of coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults who are 60+ and people with serious medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, are at higher risk of getting very sick from coronavirus. 

Georgia Coronavirus Hotline available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.: 844-442-2681

Since the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp has issued a "shelter-in-place" order for groups "at-risk." Groups affected by the order include people living in longterm care facilities, have chronic lung disease, are undergoing cancer treatment, have a positive or are suspected to have a positive test, or who have been exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

All public schools in the state were ordered closed until March 31. Public gatherings have also been limited to no more than 10 people in order to prevent the spread of the virus. The executive order will also enforce a statewide closure of all bars and nightclubs.

Coronavirus shelter-in-place orders: 'At-risk' groups in Georgia; all residents in Atlanta

Mobile testing sites have been deployed in certain regions of the state, with more on the way. Kemp has said he does not plan to impose any statewide curfews, business closures or forced quarantines. 

Though the governor has not declared a state of emergency for all of Georgia, many local municipalities have.

Monday evening, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an executive order asking all residents of the city of "stay at their place of residence" for 14 days starting at midnight on March 24. The order also urges homeless people to seek out shelter and direct "government and other entities to provide it."

"Based upon our density & specific needs/concerns in Atlanta, I’ve signed a 14 day Stay at Home Order," the mayor posted on Twitter.

Officials in Dougherty County and Athens-Clarke County have ordered residents to stay home unless they’re going to work, buying food, seeking medical care or exercising.

“Drastic measures must be taken to decelerate the spread of COVID-19,” Albany Mayor Bo Dorough said at a news conference Friday. “We anticipate the results of the more than 1,000 tests we have conducted will confirm we have hundreds of people in Dougherty County with the virus.”

Atlanta and multiple suburbs have banned in-restaurant dining, limiting eateries to takeout and delivery service, as well as closing bars, theaters, bowling alleys and other gathering places. Tybee Island banned visitors to beaches, as well as the open consumption of alcohol.

Georgia has opened at least 13 drive-thru locations for virus testing and plans more. Kemp says priority for tests is being given to those at highest risk — the elderly, people who already have chronic illnesses, those in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities and first responders such as paramedics.

Know how the COVID-19 outbreak is impacting Georiga

Best prevention measures:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces


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