Coronavirus, Health, News

Coronavirus Updates: New Surge Testing Site At Atlanta Airport

A plane descends over a parking deck to land at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. A “surge” testing site will be set up in a parking lot at the airport for the next two weeks.
A plane descends over a parking deck to land at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. A “surge” testing site will be set up in a parking lot at the airport for the next two weeks.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press
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The Georgia Department of Public Health is reporting less than 2,500 confirmed new cases of COVID-19 today, the lowest in 7 days.

Georgia trails only four other states–California, Florida, Texas, and New York–when it comes to the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Active hospitalizations remain mostly steady at just over 2,800. About two dozen of those are receiving care at a pop-up hospital at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Gov. Brian Kemps says he’s closely watching the death rate, which now stands at 2%. Kemp also said he’s monitoring the percentage of positive tests, which is now around 11%. That’s down from a high of 16% last month. However, the World Health Organization recommends a rate of 5% for two weeks before reopening an economy.

NEW SURGE TESTING SITE AT ATLANTA AIRPORT

Federal, state and Fulton County officials say metro Atlanta is set for a big boost in COVID-19 testing capacity.

A “surge” testing site will be set up in a parking lot at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport beginning today. It’s expected to be there for nearly two weeks says Doctor Lynn Paxton with the Fulton County Board of Health.

“It is anticipated that this site will be able to do up to 5,000, or perhaps more tests per day,” Paxton said. “What will remain to be seen is whether or not that amount of people will be using that.”

The state of Georgia is operating the site in coordination with Fulton County and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force recently named Atlanta as one of its hotspots for COVID-19 cases.

KEMP FIRM ON NO MASK MANDATE IN GEORGIA SCHOOLS

Gov. Brian Kemp says he does not support a statewide requirement that children wear face masks in public schools, even as state officials continue to confirm thousands of new cases of COVID-19 daily.

Thousands of students are back in classrooms across the state this week, and some have already tested positive for the coronavirus. Still, Kemp says requiring face masks should be a decision left up to local school districts.

“Like most things in education, I’m a firm believer that the local governments know their school better than the state government does,” he told reporters Monday. “We’ve been handling things that way for a long time.”

The governor was joined at the event by U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who echoed Kemp’s hesitancy over imposing mask requirements in public schools.

“Unless you’re going to send a teacher or a security guard around with every student all day, they will eventually take off that mask,” he said.

Adams says mask mandates are “practically hard to enforce,” especially if students don’t understand their value in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

To that end, he offered a direct appeal to students on the importance of following public health guidance about wearing masks.

“If you want prom in person next year, if you want to go to spring break, if you want an in-person graduation, then we need you to work together,” Adams said. “I’m asking you to do this because you will benefit from it.”

Adams’ remarks come just days after a photo of a packed hallway at a Georgia high school went viral. A number of students at North Paulding High School have now tested positive for COVID-19.

Governor Kemp has also continued opposed a statewide mask mandate for the general public and is suing the city of Atlanta over its decision to issue a local mask requirement.