The World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, to have reached a pandemic level on Wednesday. In response, President Donald Trump during a prime-time address announced he was suspending all travel to European counties, excluding the United Kingdom, for 30 days starting on Friday. The president also announced the US will defer tax payments, for some impacted filers, for 3 months amid measures to lessen the impact of the virus.
In Georgia, the number of cases rose again Wednesday. The Georgia Department of Public Health said there are now 31 confirmed and presumed positive cases of the coronavirus are in 12 counties.
Officials said two new cases popped up in DeKalb County and one in Lowndes County. All three are hospitalized, there are no connections between the cases, and the origin remains unknown. State officials are waiting on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm the cases.
Meanwhile, six more confirmed cases have been announced.
One case each in Lee, Cobb, and Floyd counties. All three are in the hospital. The Cobb County resident has a history of traveling outside of the U.S. but the source for all three remains unknown.
There are also three cases in Bartow County. Two remained in the hospital Wednesday. One individual has a connection to the Floyd County case.
Here is a breakdown of the cases as of Wednesday night.
Confirmed COVID-19 Cases (Total: 12)
- Fulton County: 3
- Floyd County: 2
- Polk County: 1
- Cobb County: 2
- Bartow County: 3
- Lee County: 1
Presumed Positive COVID-19 Cases (Total: 19)
- Fulton County: 3
- Cobb County: 6
- Fayette County: 1
- DeKalb County: 4
- Gwinnett County: 2
- Cherokee County: 1
- Charlton County: 1
- Lowndes County: 1
Here is a brief look at Wednesday's headlines from around Georgia:
A second Fulton County Schools employee has tested positive for COVID-19, Fulton County Schools confirmed Wednesday.
The employee worked at Woodland Middle School, which was already closed due to a separate employee who worked at both Woodland Middle School and Bear Creek Middle School, possibly exposing others at the school.
Woodland Middle School was originally scheduled to re-open on March 17, but that date has been moved to March 23 since the second employee was last known to be in the school on March 9. School officials also said Bear Middle School will re-open on March 23.
All other schools in the systems are scheduled to re-open on March 12.
Cobb County Schools made the announcement on Wednesday that Kincaid Elementary School will be closed for the next two weeks. That decision came after the Georgia Department of Public Health informed the district about the case.
Officials will be cleaning and sanitizing the entire campus and all the school buses which service the school.
The "luck of Irish" will have no major impact on keeping the coronavirus from spreading. To that end, several St. Patrick's Day celebrations have been canceled. In Georgia, the parade in Atlanta has been canceled while the festivities in Savannah have been postponed.
Other cities are likely to follow suit.
A Floyd County man who has COVID-19 may have accidentally exposed others after originally being sent home from the hospital without being tested.
Clay Bentley said he felt feverish and had a cough when he showed up at Redmond Regional Medical Center on March 2. He said he was told he didn't fit the profile for a coronavirus patient. So he went home.
"By Friday, I was so bad I called the hospital back," he said from his hospital room. "And I said I felt like you sent me home to die. And I said, 'I'm not better. I'm worse.'"
He was admitted that day and tested positive, five days after he said he was sent home.
In a statement Wednesday, the Cartersville Medical Center on the 900 block of Joe Frank Harris Parkway said that they were notified by health officials that a patient has tested positive for COVID-19.
Three other patients are currently waiting for results from coronavirus tests.
NCAA President Mark Emmert says NCAA Division I basketball tournament games will be played without fans in the arenas over concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus. This included the Final Four which are slated to take place in Atlanta this year.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she's "disappointed" but agrees "public health and safety are our priority."
The Associated Press reported Final Four organizers will be looking for an alternative venue. The current site was slated for Mercedes-Benz Stadium which can hold up to 80,000 people.
One of the venues which will likely be looked at is Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum where the remaining 2008 SEC quarterfinal games were played after a tornado damaged the Georgia Dome's roof during an overtime game between Mississippi State and Alabama. That venue holes up to 8,600 people.
The NBA has suspended its season "until further notice" after a Utah Jazz player tested positive Wednesday for the coronavirus, a move that came only hours after the majority of the league's owners were leaning toward playing games without fans in arenas.
Some dentists in Georgia said they are having problems keeping masks in stock because of hoarding associated with the coronavirus outbreak. One dentist said he is getting half of his usual shipment and is having to ration them.
A plane filled with passengers stranded on the Grand Princess cruise ship landed overnight at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Cobb County.
The 737 touched down at the Cobb County base just before 1 a.m. Wednesday. A second plane is scheduled for just after 9:30 p.m. Wednesday to bring more passengers.
In total, more than 200 people from the ship are expected to be quarantined at Dobbins.
Relieved cruise ship passengers continue to make their way to Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Cobb County -- after spending a week quarantined in their cabins. Grand Princess Cruise officials ordered passengers to remain in their cabins after a number of crew members and passengers fell ill from Coronavirus.
From one week in a Hawaiian paradise followed by one week in coronavirus confinement, it's been a long journey for Karen and her husband Harry and Karen Dever and everyone else who's waited anxiously to get off the cruise ship.
Karen told FOX 5's Portia Bruner they made it all the way onto the bus, only to be told they were being taken to a hospital.
A second plane full of passengers from the Grand Princess Cruise Ship docked in California following an outbreak of coronavirus aboard touched down just before 12:30 a.m. Thursday at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta.
The Red Cross said in Georgia, they're down more than 200 units of blood because donations have dropped.
Health officials say the cold and flu season has already impacted the nation's ability to maintain its blood supply.
The annual Atlanta State of the City address has been pushed back from its originally scheduled date of March 12, according to the Mayor's office.
The mayor later issued an order to fund the city's newly formed Coronavirus Pandemic Coordination Team. The mayor also directed the Atlanta Watershed Management to not disconnect water due to late payment for the next 60 days.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta City Council is testing technology in two mock online meetings in case the coronavirus forces them to not be able to meet in person.
An Atlanta area lab is working on a coronavirus vaccine.
GeoVax's Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Farshad Guirakhoo, says scientists have created three vaccine designs for COVID-19, that should be ready for animal trials in a few weeks. The outcome of those initial tests will determine which vaccine design will be used in clinical trials.
Lewis' 80th birthday celebration was planned for March 28 at the Tabernacle in Atlanta. Out of an abundance of caution, however, organizers say they felt that postponing the party would be the safest option.
Leaders at Destiny World Church notified their members a cruise to celebrate the pastor's 27th church anniversary has been postponed.
On Wednesday, the church sent a memo to all of its members, including some 500 people who signed up for the April excursion. It said leaders decided to hold off on the trip because of concerns regarding the coronavirus.
Student competitors and parents are holding their breath, hoping the canceled Georgia Student Technology Competition for elementary school students will be rescheduled.
Organizers called the competition off this week amid heightened coronavirus concerns.
Parents say there are plenty of ways to hold the competition without having hundreds of people in close proximity to one another.
A Murray County teacher is under quarantine after she was exposed to an elderly family member with coronavirus.
Murray County Schools told FOX 5 the teacher is isolated at her parents' house in Atlanta. The woman was around her father the first weekend in March, and he was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this week.
The following is from the Georgia Department of Public Health:
Elderly people and individuals with chronic medical conditions may have increased risk for COVID-19. All Georgians should follow basic 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.
If you have recently traveled to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 and you develop fever with cough and shortness of breath within fourteen days of your travel, or if you have had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, stay home and call your health care provider or local health department right away. Be sure to call before going to a doctor’s office, emergency room, or urgent care center and tell them about your recent travel and symptoms.