Coronavirus Updates: Atlanta Is Giving ‘Front-Line’ Employees Hazard Pay

A man leaves a restaurant with a take-out order in Atlanta. The city will pay more than 5,000 employees an extra $500 a month in hazard pay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

John Bazemore / Associated Press

Updated Tuesday at 8:59 p.m.

Atlanta is giving hazard pay to the city’s “front-line” employees.

Under the new policy, issued by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, eligible employees will be paid an extra $500 a month, according to a press release from the city.

“As Atlanta families manage the COVID-19 crisis, there are City employees going out each and every day so that critical City services continue without disruption,” Bottoms said in a statement. “These men and women leave their homes to keep our streets safe, ensure our communities are maintained, keep our water clean and so much more. They are putting their lives on the line and we are grateful for their service.”

More than 5,000 city employees would qualify for hazard pay under the new policy. They include, according to the news release, “sworn public safety positions and civilians performing critical watershed, aviation, solid waste, transportation, inspection, parks and recreation and other frontline functions.”

This comes as Georgia’s confirmed cases of the new virus have passed 4,000 statewide, with more than 800 hospitalizations and 125 deaths.

Mayors Push Kemp For Statewide Restrictions

Gov. Brian Kemp is being pressured by some mayors across the state to impose tighter restrictions in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Confirmed infections in the state are approaching 4,000.

The head of the Georgia Municipal Association, Larry Hanson, is asking city leaders to adopt stay at home orders and says members want Kemp to take further action.

The Governor has banned public gatherings, closed bars and nightclubs and ordered those most at risk to stay home. But, he’s said he will not require all Georgians to shelter in place, for now.

Some cities have issued stay-at-home orders, including Atlanta, Athens and Savannah.

Tuesday, Savannah’s mayor called for a consistent shelter-in-place order across all of Georgia which he says is necessary for the policy to work.

6 More Confirmed Cases At Fulton County Jail

Six more inmates at the Fulton County Jail have confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 13 people being cared for by medical staff.

Fulton officials say the inmates are in isolation with around the clock care. The man with the first confirmed case was hospitalized and released from jail last week.

This comes as public health experts are urging jails and prisons to reduce incarcerated populations during the pandemic.

Deputies are continuing to use a touch-free thermometer to read temperatures of all staff. Visitation is limited to video and meetings with judges, attorneys and other investigators.

Gig Workers Could Get $600 A Week In Unemployment

With the new Federal CARES act, Gig workers and freelancers could get unemployment benefits of $600 a week. But first the state has to set up a system for them.

Right now, only those who paid into the state’s unemployment system through a salaried job, for example, are eligible for state benefits of up to $365 a week. They will soon see an additional $600  from the federal government that will last of up to four months.

But the federal law also includes the $600 for freelancers, gig workers and those in nonprofits or the arts.

State officials say they are waiting for instructions from Washington and will have to set up a system to include those workers. They don’t have a timeline, but said it would happen quote “as quickly as possible”

New Checkpoint At Florida-Georgia Line On I-95

Travelers driving across the Florida – Georgia line will have to pass through a new checkpoint on Interstate 95, part of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

This comes as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered that travelers arriving from hard-hit states must isolate themselves for 14 days.

Florida Highway Patrol officials said this does not apply to anyone performing military, emergency, health or infrastructure response, or people that live in Georgia and commute to work in Florida.

Each arriving traveler will be required to complete a form and should be prepared for more monitoring by the department of health.

Georgia Power Offers Tips For ‘Stay-At-Home’ Energy Use

Georgia Power is giving people stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic tips on how to manage their “stay-at-home” energy use.

One way to avoid energy loss is making sure phone chargers and other devices are unplugged when not being used.

Officials say customers should set thermostats to 78 degrees during warm weather months. With each degree higher, people can see a huge decrease in energy use.

Georgia Power also recommends that people should clean their air conditioning filters each month, a dirty filter can make equipment work harder.

To track daily energy use and project monthly bills, customers can also join Georgia Power’s ‘My Power Usage’ program.

Atlanta Hospitals Could Hit ICU Capacity In A Month

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the city’s hospitals have not hit their Intensive Care Unit capacity yet … but they COULD in about a month.

“As of now, our hospitals are not at capacity,” Bottoms said. “But it is my understanding based on projections that at the current rate out hospitals could exceed capacity by May 3.”

Last week, the mayor issued a stay at home order. Residents can leave for essential services such as health visits and grocery shopping.

She said as of now there is no firm date when that stay-at-home order would be lifted.

City parks and the BeltLine are still open. The mayor said that could change if overcrowding in some areas persists.