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WABE’s Week In Review: Alleged Double Voting In Georgia And How Covid Is Still Impacting the State

he latest report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force said Georgia had the 12th highest rate of new infections per 100,000 people in the country.
he latest report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force said Georgia had the 12th highest rate of new infections per 100,000 people in the country.
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press

This week marked six months since the coronavirus outbreak was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. In the time since, more than 6,000 Georgians have died from COVID-19 and nearly 300,000  have been infected with the novel virus.

The latest report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, obtained by WABE’s Sam Whitehead, says the state had the 12th highest rate of new infections per 100,000 people in the country.  Just a few weeks ago, Georgia led the country in new cases.

“Progress is evident and needs to continue and ensure no reversal of hard-fought gains,” the report reads.

The document, dated September 9th, also says Georgia’s test positivity continues to decline for the third week in a row. The state is now 19th in the nation for that metric.

But the Task Force warns that Georgia’s recent progress in slowing coronavirus transmission could be reversed as cases rise on college and university campuses.

The University of Georgia in Athens has seen a surge in cases as students have returned to campus for in-person learning.

Need for blood donations continues to grow… 

The American Red Cross of Georgia is asking for more Black blood donors in an effort to help sickle cell patients. Sickle cell anemia is the country’s most common genetic blood disease, and it primarily affects people of African and Latino descent. Patients can require frequent blood transfusions that need to be matched based on race or ethnicity.

The Red Cross has reported that blood donations from African Americans are down by more than half since the outbreak of COVID-19 as many blood drives are being canceled.

WABE’s Christopher Alston reported that comes at a time when blood donations are already low because of the pandemic.

Back to school for some… 

Gwinnett County schools resumed in-person classes for all grades Wednesday. (Pixabay)

Gwinnett County schools resumed in-person classes for all grades Wednesday. The district has used a phased-in approach, with some grades returning Aug. 26. More grades joined them on Sept. 2. Now, all students have the option to return. Alternatively, they can choose to continue with remote learning. But as WABE’s Martha Dalton reported, in many cases, teachers don’t have a choice.

Pandemic compounding problems for vulnerable kids… 

More kids are at home and online because of the pandemic. And Jennifer Swain, head of Georgia’s YouthSpark says they are likely chatting with more people and spending more time on what she calls the “virtual street.” Swain told WABE’s Lisa Rayam, that not every home is a happy home and with many youth service centers closed during the pandemic, there may not be a safe place for some kids to go.

Only losing $27 million a day…

At the height of the pandemic, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines burned through $100 million a day. As WABE’s Jim Burress reported Delta now loses about a quarter of what it did in April to $27 million a day. Delta’s Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson credited the tens of thousands of Delta employees who either took voluntary leave or early retirement for making that happen. The airline also says it is seeing slow increases in demand with requests from passengers for ticket refunds slowing significantly.

More voting confusion? 

Voters reported wait times of three hours during Georgia’s June primary. (John Bazemore/Associated Press)

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says his office is investigating one thousand Georgians who voted twice in the June primaries. Raffensperger says the voters were among the 150,000 who showed up at the polls despite having cast an absentee ballot by mail. He says in most instances, people who had already voted were flagged by the system.

“The thousand people knew what they were doing, there’s no excuse under the law for double voting,” said Raffensperger.

But voting rights advocates say thousands of voters faced delays in receiving their absentee ballots, leading to uncertainty as to whether they would be received (and counted) by officials by the deadline.

On WABE’s podcast Political Breakfast with Denis O’Hayer, Republican strategist Brian Robinson and former 7th Congressional District Democratic candidate Nabilah Islam debated the issue.

Still lagging behind… 

Local politicians, including Governor Brian Kemp, are urging people to fill out the 2020 Census.
As Roxanne Scott reported, the response rate for parts of Georgia lag behind the rest of the country. In addition to money for federal programs, Census numbers determine how voting districts will be drawn for the next ten years. Returning the Census form seems to be something even Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha lance Bottoms can agree on as both made videos promoting the effort.

Counting for the Census was supposed to stop the end of the month. But now that’s unclear. Advocates sued over the deadline, saying it would lead to an undercount. This week a federal judge has ordered the Census to continue counting people for now.

No more drilling off Georgia’s coast (for now) … 

President Donald Trump holds a signed memorandum to expand the offshore drilling moratorium to Florida’s Atlantic coast, Georgia and South Carolina after speaking at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, in Jupiter, Fla. (John Raoux/Associated Press)

Offshore oil drilling will be banned from Georgia’s coast until 2032. President Donald Trump made the announcement on Tuesday, during a campaign stop in the battleground state of Florida. Earlier in his administration, Trump had pushed to open up nearly all of the country’s coasts for oil drilling. But in Georgia, as in other states, there’s been bipartisan opposition to offshore oil because of concerns about its effects on tourism, fisheries and wildlife.

WABE’s Molly Samuel reported the moratorium also includes Florida and South Carolina.