UGA and Oconee County record first casses
By Joe Johnson
Residents of Athens-Clarke County woke up Friday morning with a mandatory shelter-in-place ordinance on the books in response to the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic.
County commissioners approved the ordinance at a meeting Thursday night, just days after they voted to declared a state of emergency due to the public health crisis.
The shelter-in-place ordinance took effect at midnight Friday.
The policy had previously been voluntary.
As of today, county residents are only supposed to leave their homes for essential purposes while practicing social distancing of at least six feet.
This order was passed after the county had its eighth confirmed case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). That number increased to nine when the state Department of Public Health updated its coronavirus information Friday afternoon.
The University of Georgia has reported two second confirmed case of coronavirus.
“A staff member who works in Athletics was confirmed this morning to have tested positive for COVID-19. The individual was last on campus on March 6, 2020. He is being treated in a local hospital,” UGA said on Wednesday. “Another member of the Athletics Department who had contact with the individual is under self-quarantine at home with no symptoms at this time.”
UGA announced a second case on Thursday: “An undergraduate in the Honors Program has reported to the University Health Center testing positive for COVID-19. The individual has reported last being on campus on March 7. The individual has been advised to self-isolate at home and is not in the Athens area,” UGA announced.
Of the surrounding counties there had been only been one confirmed cased of COVID-19, in Barrow County, according to the DPH, which on Friday afternoon added one confirmed case in Oconee County.
Statewide, there were 420 confirmed cases of the disease as of Friday, and 13 coronavirus-related deaths, according to the DPH.
The Athens-Clarke shelter-in-place policy includes a number of exemptions, such as grocery shopping, medical trips, recreation and going to work, and allows essential businesses like doctor's offices, pharmacies, grocery stores and a host of others to remain open while requiring others to close to the public. Restaurants can stay open, but are only allowed to serve food for take-out and delivery.
In a media release issued Friday morning, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department addressed concern about how the new ordinance will be enforced.
“The ordinance lays out that the police department’s role is one of engagement and education of our residents, rather than by citation or arrest,” the release stated.
Exemptions to the ordinance includes:
* Travel to work or school to obtain supplies/materials
* To obtain necessary supplies or medicines for personal health or safety reasons
* Outdoor exercise that abides by social distancing guidelines
* To care for family members or pets
* To return home from outside of the county
* If you are ordered to be out by a police officer or judicial officer
While many businesses are required to be closed to the public, many types are allowed to remain open. They include:
* Healthcare providers and facilities
* Retail businesses that sell food, like grocery and convenience stores
* Restaurants may be open for drive-through and carry out orders only
* Social services and homeless shelters
* Gas Stations and car repair/parts stores
* Hardware stores
* Service providers such as plumbers and electricians
* Post offices and shipping services
*Laundromats and dry cleaners
* Transportation providers
* Legal services, accountants and realty companies
The list of exemptions is not exhaustive, so refer to www.accgov.com/coronavirus for the full text of the ordinance. The site will soon have an FAQ section and a hotline number related to the ordinance and its provisions.
For the latest COVID-19 information visit https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report