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Breaking News
UPDATE: 10 more deaths reported as Georgia’s coronavirus cases rise to 2,446
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UPDATE: 10 more deaths reported as Georgia’s coronavirus cases rise to 2,446

Photo Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / HYOSUB.SHIN@AJC.COM
Medical workers in protective gear collect samples at a Phoebe Putney Health System drive-through testing site in Albany on Tuesday.

UPDATE: 10 more deaths reported as Georgia’s coronavirus cases rise to 2,446

UPDATE [7 p.m.]: Another 10 deaths were reported across Georgia on Saturday evening as the state’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased to 2,446.

In the seven hours since its noon report, the Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed an additional 80 cases. The state’s COVID-19 death toll now stands at 79, according to the latest data

Of Georgia’s overall cases, 660 patients remain hospitalized, a rate of about 27%, according to the 7 p.m. figures. That number is up from 617 confirmed hospitalizations at 12 p.m. 

Fulton County still has the most confirmed cases in Georgia with 378, up from 373 at midday. DeKalb County has the second most with 246, followed by Dougherty County with 224, and Cobb with 185. 

The number of coronavirus-related deaths across the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday after doubling in just two days, according to a Washington Post review of state health department numbers.

With 17 deaths, hard-hit Dougherty County has lost more people to the highly contagious virus than any other county in the state. 

» MORE: City under siege: Coronavirus exacts heavy toll in Albany

The southwest Georgia county of about 90,000 people reported an additional four deaths since noon, according to the latest figures. Fulton County’s death count increased to 13 on Saturday while Cobb’s jumped to nine, up from five just 24 hours earlier.

Bulloch and Wheeler counties also reported their first cases. 

As of noon, a total of 11,051 COVID-19 tests had been conducted in Georgia with about 21.4% returning positive results. Those statewide testing numbers were not updated in the Department of Public Health’s latest report. 

Patients between the ages of 18 and 59 make up 56% of Georgia’s confirmed cases, while those 60 and older make up 35%. The DPH does not release compiled data on how many people have recovered.

— Please return to AJC.com for updates. 

ORIGINAL STORY [12 p.m.]: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia climbed to 2,366 Saturday as the state’s death toll reached 69.

Since Friday evening, the confirmed number of Georgians who have died as a result of COVID-19 increased by four, according to the latest data from the Georgia Department of Public Health. 

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia

Health officials also confirmed an additional 168 cases since the 7 p.m. update.

Of Georgia’s overall cases, 617 people remain hospitalized, a rate of about 26%, according to the state’s noon figures. 

Fulton County still has the most cases with 373, followed by DeKalb with 240, Dougherty County with 205, and Cobb with 181. 

As of Monday, the number of confirmed cases across the state was fewer than 1,000

Since Friday evening, Fulton has 26 new cases, while DeKalb has 21 more and 18 more people tested positive in Cobb. Four counties also reported their first cases, including Murray, Walton, Jenkins and Pike. 

A total of 11,051 tests have been conducted so far in Georgia. About 21.4% of those returned positive results.

On Friday afternoon, the DPH started releasing data on where people died. Dougherty County leads the count with 13 deaths, followed by Fulton with 12, Cobb County with eight, and Lee County with five.

About 2.9% of Georgians who have tested positive for the highly contagious disease have died.

» DASHBOARD: Real-time stats and charts tracking coronavirus in Georgia

For most, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and those with existing health problems are at risk of more severe illnesses, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover in a matter of weeks.

As numbers spike across the state, Gov. Brian Kemp is urging Georgians to stay home and practice social distancing. At a town hall broadcast Thursday evening, Kemp told residents to heed directives to avoid more restrictive measures, such as a statewide stay-at-home mandate.

» RELATED: Kemp urges Georgians to heed virus warnings but balks at drastic steps

Bars and nightclubs remain closed across the state, many public gatherings are banned, and the elderly and medically fragile are ordered to shelter in place.

» PHOTOS: Metro Atlanta adjusts to shifts in daily life amid coronavirus crisis

Many metro Atlanta cities and counties have issued their own stay-at-home orders to residents, shutting down nonessential businesses and imposing curfews.

» MORE: DeKalb County issues stay-at-home order

Speaking on CNN Saturday morning, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said metro Atlanta’s hospitals are already nearing capacity. 

“...We are a large urban city in an even larger metropolitan area, so on a good day our hospitals and our ICU beds are at a premium,” she said. “What people have to realize is strokes don’t stop, diabetes and these things that send people into our emergency rooms, these things continue. It’s stressing our health care system and you add this pandemic on top of it and we have a real problem of it brewing right here in Atlanta.”

» RELATED: Bottoms: Stay home so others ‘have an opportunity to simply live’

Those who believe they are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility.

Georgians can also call the state COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681 to share public health information and connect with medical professionals. 

— Please return to AJC.com for updates.

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  • Two Atlanta police officers have been fired for using a stun gun on two college students during this weekend’s protests in Atlanta. A video of officers Mark Gardner and Ivory Streeter using the stun gun on the students as they sat in a vehicle led to action by Atlanta’s mayor and police chief. The Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said he’s investigating and looking at criminal charges against the officers. Still shaken, the Morehouse and Spelman students spoke for the first time Monday about what happened Saturday night. “We felt like we were going to die in that car,” said Taniyah Pilgrim, a student at Spelman College. The Atlanta Police Department provided WSB-TV with body camera video from seven different officers showing Messiah Young, a senior from Morehouse College, and Pilgrim, his girlfriend, tased and dragged from their car. “I’m sorry you guys had to even see something like that occur. It’s disgusting,” Pilgrim said Monday. Moments before they were tased, the video shows Young taking a video of the police and protesters from his car. The couple said they were not part of the protests, but were going out to eat and got stuck in the traffic. “At the end of the day, it’s a blessing that I’m alive and here to talk with you,” Young said. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and police Chief Ericka Shields said the videos left them no choice but to terminate officers Streeter and Gardner. “I knew that I had only one option, and that was to terminate the employees,” Shields said. WSB-TV dug into the history of the two men. Both were longtime veterans of the force and investigators in APD’s fugitive unit. Both men, according to state peace officer records, had just gone through use-of-force and de-escalation training in the last two months. Streeter completed his de-escalation training just last week. Vince Champion, Southeast regional director for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, told WSB-TV that he thinks the officers should have been placed on leave while they were investigated. “We just don’t know the facts. Making an arrest on video as a police officer, almost all of them are going to be ugly,” Champion said. Young has a fractured arm and 20 stitches from the incident. He also spent the night in jail. The couple and their attorneys want more disciplinary action taken against the officers involved. “This is a long, long fight. This isn’t just about me. This is an entire generation that has to deal with brutality and injustice and wrongdoing for nothing because of the color of their skin,” Young said. WSB-TV remained in contact with Howard’s office throughout Monday. Howard was said to be speaking with the families, the police chief, and then will make a determination on any possible criminal charges against the officers.
  • President Donald Trump said Monday night that he will invoke an 1807 federal law that would allow him to deploy active-duty U.S. troops in response to protests in the wake of the death of a black man by a white police officer in Minnesota. “I am mobilizing all federal and local resources, civilian and military, to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans,” Trump said in an address from the White House Rose Garden. 'We are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country. We will end it now,' he said. 'If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,' Trump said. He said he had already dispatched 'thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers' to Washington D.C. following a night that saw riots, the defacing of the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial and a fire in the church across the street from the White House. The law – called the Insurrection Act – would allow the president to send active-duty troops to a state where he believes it is necessary to quell an “insurrection” that threatens the state or its residents. Here’s what we know about the Insurrection Act: What does the act say? “If there is an insurrection in a State, the President, at the request of the State’s legislature, or Governor if the legislature cannot be convened, may call National Guards of other States into Federal service as well as use the Federal military to suppress the insurrection.” The act goes on to authorize the president to deploy the military (federal or state) whenever he believes it necessary “to suppress an insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination or conspiracy.” “Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages or rebellion against authority of the United States makes it impracticable to enforce the law of the United States in any State or territory by judicial proceedings, the President may call into Federal service the militia of any State and use the Federal military to enforce the laws or suppress the rebellion,” the act reads. The law also states the president can use the armed forces when there is an interference with federal or state law. The law may be used when an “insurrection:” “(a) … so hinders the execution of law of that State and of the United States and it deprives citizens of constitutional rights (e.g. due process); or (b) it opposes or obstructs the execution of laws or impedes the course of justice. In the event of the deprivation of rights, the State is deemed to have denied its citizens equal protection of laws.” Prior to invoking the Insurrection Act, the attorney general crafts and the president must issue a “proclamation to disperse.” The proclamation to disperse will “immediately order the insurgents to disperse and retire peaceably to their abodes within a limited time,” according to the legislation. What does that mean? The Insurrection Act allows the president, at the request of the governor of a state or a state legislature, to federalize that state’s National Guard and to use the active-duty military in order to suppress an “insurrection” against that state's government. The act also allows a president to federalize the National Guard and send in active-duty troops, even if the governor or legislature does not ask for help, if it becomes impracticable to enforce federal laws through ordinary proceedings or if states are unable to safeguard its citizens’ civil rights. Has it been used before? Yes, but not very often, according to the Congressional Research Service. Some examples of when it was used include: Several times during the 1960s civil rights era by both President Dwight Eisenhower and President John Kennedy. By President George H.W. Bush following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, as business and homes were looted and during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
  • Police are investigating after the body of a man who had been shot was found in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.  Officers were sent to the Baker-Highland Connector at Piedmont Avenue about 1:40 p.m. Monday, according to Atlanta police spokesman Officer Steve Avery. There, they found the man dead, he said.  When police moved the man’s body, they discovered that he had been shot.  Witnesses told police the man occasionally sleeps under the overpass near the area. It is not clear what led to the man’s death.  An investigation is ongoing.  You may find this story and more at AJC.com. In other news: 
  • A man was killed Monday afternoon after gunfire erupted inside a DeKalb County Walmart, officials said.  The victim, a man in his late to mid-60s, died on the way to a hospital, according to DeKalb police spokeswoman Michaela Vincent. His name was not released.  DeKalb police detained a man in his late 50s in connection with the incident, which happened at the store on Gresham Road. Officers were sent to the shopping center about 2 p.m. after someone reported gunshots, Vincent said. Investigators determined the incident began as a dispute between two men, she said. It is not clear what led to the dispute.  An investigation is ongoing.  Please return to AJC.com for updates. You may find this story and more at AJC.com. In other news: