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WABE’s Week in Review: Georgia Hits One-Day Covid Record as More Vaccines Arrive

Nearly 160,000 of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine are now in Georgia. The statet earlier received 125,775 vaccines from Pfizer.
Nearly 160,000 of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine are now in Georgia. The statet earlier received 125,775 vaccines from Pfizer.
Credit Joel Saget / AFP via Getty Images

Georgia hit an unwanted but not completely unexpected record this week: 7,899 confirmed Covid-19 cases in one day. The number, announced on Christmas Eve, breaks the state’s previous high by some 1,700 cases.

Health experts have, for months, warned of the winter holidays, saying the elevated case numbers this entire month are due to Thanksgiving travel and gatherings. And they are bracing for more cases after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

State officials have urged people to keep following coronavirus prevention measures, like mask wearing and physical distancing, even during the holidays. And Governor Brian Kemp announced, Tuesday, the state will be re-opening a temporary medical facility at the Georgia World Congress Center to relieve stress from hospitals amid the rising cases.

Meantime, more than 150,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Moderna are now in the state. Georgia’s public health commissioner, Doctor Kathleen Toomey, said this vaccine is easier to store than the one from Pfizer.

“There were parts of rural Georgia, including our own public health departments, that weren’t able to receive them,” said Toomey.  “With now the Moderna vaccine, we can literally cover the state with vaccinations, and we’re very excited to begin that process.”

Front line health care workers and those who work at long-term care facilities are receiving vaccinations first.

More People Going Hungry in Georgia During the Pandemic…

Food banks in Georgia are responding to the rising numbers of food insecurity due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The economic downturn caused by the coronavirus is exacerbating hunger in Georgia. Before the pandemic, more than a million Georgians needed help getting enough food. Now, even with a new relief package from Congress,  experts are warning that higher levels of hunger could continue for years.

Many people needing help are those in businesses like restaurants and hotels crushed by the economic slowdown from the pandemic, according to Lily Pabian, executive director of WeLoveBuHi, a community organization behind food distribution events along Buford Highway.

“These communities are frontline workers,” said Pabian. “They live pretty much paycheck to paycheck. They don’t have the comfort of 401k, retirements, all that stuff. If they want to pay the bills, they have to work.”

“The food banks are responding to an unrelenting 50-percent increase in demand for food,” said Danah Craft, executive director of the Georgia Food Bank Association. “And it has grown in the last 60 days.”

Some 40-percent of the people coming for help now have never had to look for assistance before, according to Craft.

The Georgia Food Bank Association estimates one in five children in Georgia right now is experiencing food insecurity. And food banks the association works with are supplying 8 million more meals a month than they were pre-pandemic.

This heightened need to respond to hunger will last much longer than the pandemic itself because the economy won’t bounce back instantly, said Tom Rawlings, Director of the State Division of Family and Children Services. And that will force nonprofits, food banks, and government agencies to fill the gap for years to come.

High Schoolers Are Helping Remove a Controversial Relic…

Decatur city commissioners unanimously backed a resolution to remove the “Indian War” cannon from in front of the old Dekalb County Courthouse.

High school students in Decatur pushed for the resolution saying the monument, placed there in 1906 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, celebrates the forced removal of Native Americans from the South.

“Certain community members don’t want this cannon to reflect oppression or a horrible history, said Decatur High School student Koan Roy-Meighoo. “But, the fact of the matter is, it does.”

Dekalb County Commissioners will have to make the official removal as the cannon is on county property.

Remembering Those Many Have Forgotten… 

An annual candlelight memorial acknowledging the deaths of people who are homeless moved online in 2020 because of concerns over the coronavirus.
An annual candlelight memorial acknowledging the deaths of people who are homeless moved online in 2020 because of concerns over the coronavirus. (Captured by Stephannie Stokes/WABE)

Each year there’s a candlelight memorial to recognize the deaths of those who are homeless in Fulton County.

Mercy Care, a major health care provider for the homeless in Atlanta, leads the event. The medical center moved it online for 2020 because of the ongoing pandemic.

Dozens still joined the Zoom call earlier this week and held a candle up to their screen, as Mercy Care staff read the names of 73 people who died homeless.