ATLANTA - Simon Malls, the largest owner of shopping malls in the United States, will be closing all of its retail properties starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Simon Malls properties in Georgia include Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza in Atlanta, Calhoun Outlet Marketplace, the Mall of Georgia in Buford, North Georgia Premium Outlets in Dawsonville, Sugarloaf Mills in Lawrenceville, and Town Center at Cobb in Kennesaw.
All malls, premium outlets, and mills will be closed through March 29, the company announced on Wednesday.
"The health and safety of our shoppers, retailers and employees are of paramount importance and we are taking this step to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities," David Simon, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Simon, was quoted as saying in a release to FOX 5 News.
As of Wednesday, two additional people in Georgia had died due to the virus, bringing the total number of deaths to three. Health officials also confirmed there were 197 cases in the state since testing began.
In Wednesday's report, health officials say that 39 percent of confirmed cases involve people age 60 or older, people who the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say are at a higher risk of getting very sick from the illness. The World Health Organization has estimated a 21.9 percent mortality rate for those over 80 who are infected with the virus.
Gov. Brian Kemp declared a public health emergency for the State of Georgia in response to the coronavirus outbreak, allowing resources to be marshaled for the treatment and mitigation of the virus. Kemp continued on Monday by issuing an executive order closing all public schools until March 31.
Multiple cities in Georgia have initiated their own responses to the spread of the virus. In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms declared a state of emergency within the city limits, banning large public gatherings of more than 50 people until March 31.
On Tuesday, the South Fulton City Council said they declared a state of emergency, implementing a curfew between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. for all residents, excluding people going to and from work, emergency personelle, essential city personnel, and people making deliveries.
Measures you can take to prevent the spread of coronavirus:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- 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 returned from a country with ongoing COVID-19 infections monitor your health and follow the instructions of public health officials