Updated Thursday at 7:43 a.m.
Confirmed infections from the new coronavirus in Georgia rose to almost 1,400 Wednesday, with nearly a third of those people hospitalized, according to state health officials. Nearly 50 deaths in the state have been attributed to the virus.
The state health department’s number of confirmed cases reported Wednesday evening was up nearly 300, or more than 25%, from 24 hours earlier. Deaths rose by nearly a quarter in that same period, from 38 to 47. The state listed 438 people as hospitalized.
But the availability of testing remains limited across the state, and results take days to produce, meaning many people now spreading the highly contagious virus may not know they’ve been infected.
The number of confirmed cases topped 100 in four counties, with Fulton County, the state’s most populous, tallying more than 200 infections and 7 deaths. Virus cases were reported in at least 96 of Georgia’s 159 counties Wednesday, with nine counties reporting their first cases.
In Dougherty County, infections rose to 123, and eight people had died. The county, which includes Albany, in the southwestern part of the state has been extremely hard hit by the virus outbreak.
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany has struggled with a deluge of coronavirus patients, and local officials have scrambled to create more intensive care and general beds. They said in a news conference Wednesday that effort remains ongoing. The Georgia Municipal Association recommended Tuesday that all cities impose a mandatory curfew, but Albany Mayor Bo Dorough said city and county officials are rejecting that for now, saying people seem to be complying with existing restrictions.
“What we have to do is take precautions today, immediately, to eliminate unnecessary spread of the virus,” Dorough said Wednesday. But he and other officials warned that with hundreds of tests still outstanding, many more cases could surface.
Phoebe Putney CEO Scott Steiner said the hospital has found other hospitals to take some patients from its Albany hospital that is near capacity. He says others have refused to take even non-COVID-19 patients from Albany because of virus fears.
Waffle House Closes Some Locations
Waffle House has closed more than 400 locations as the coronavirus pandemic has worsened.
The iconic restaurant is used as a barometer in times of crisis, as they rarely close locations even in the face of storms that shut down other businesses in a given area. There’s even an unscientific system call the Waffle House Index to assess damage and preparedness during natural disasters.
Related: How FEMA Uses Waffle House To Measure Disasters >>
The chain has a location tracker that allows users to see which locations are still open. Like most restaurants, only take out and to-go service is available.
It is still, headquartered in Norcross, Georgia, is still operating more than 1,500 locations.
Kennesaw Mountain Is Closed To The Public
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is temporarily closing to the public…
[The suburban Atlanta park had been a respite for many, in fact, it was so busy last week officials closed Mountain Road because of overcrowding.
Trails, buildings, parking lots and other facilities are shuttered.
The green space is part of the National Park Service, who said in a statement that it is following CDC and state public health department guidelines to protect workers and visitors from the virus.
Meantime, all parks run by the state of Georgia remain open with limited access to certain facilities.
MARTA Is Suspending Fares
MARTA officials say the bus service is suspending the collection of fares on buses starting this Thursday to separate potential cases of COVID-19 from bus drivers.
The AJC reports MARTA will also only board passengers from the REAR of each bus, except for people who need an accessibility ramp.
Customers transferring between trains will pay fares at rail stations.
Officials say people just taking the bus will ride for free.
Fulton County Cities Asked To Adopt Consistent Restrictions
Every Fulton County city is being asked to have uniform coronavirus legislation.
Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts said he wants to have consistent rules to allow protection of all of citizens within the 15 cities of Fulton County.
“I do not have the legal authority to request the cities to do this,” he said. “But since this is clearly in the best interest of our citizens, I have no doubt the mayors and members of council will comply with our request.”
Fulton County has the most COVID-19 cases across the state.
Kia Motors Closing For Two Weeks
Kia Motors, one of Georgia’s largest manufacturers is closing for two weeks until mid-April.
Earlier this month the plant, located in West Point, Georgia, canceled production operations due to supply chain issues.
In a statement Tuesday, the South Korean-based carmaker said, it was suspending production “In response to the …spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. and supply chain concerns”.
Production is planned to resume on April 13.
The plant has an annual capacity of more than 340,000 vehicles, and It is Georgia’s 10th largest manufacturer with 2,725 employees.