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WABE’s Week in Review: Unemployment Numbers, Shaky State Data and People Looking to Foster Kids

A man uses his phone to copy phone numbers posted on the locked doors of a Georgia Department of Labor office earlier this month in Norcross Georgia.
A man uses his phone to copy phone numbers posted on the locked doors of a Georgia Department of Labor office earlier this month in Norcross Georgia.
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press

On the Week in Review for May 17-23, WABE’s Managing Editor Alex Helmick showcases stories from our journalists on the state’s unemployment numbers.

Georgia is experiencing its highest unemployment on record at 11.9% in April. State officials say since the start of the pandemic, two million claims for unemployment have come into the Department of Labor.

The state is still having problems processing claims, with 25,000 people eligible for federal relief of $600 a week waiting for the cash because they have not made the correct online request for it.

‘If we have lost the public’s trust, I hope we can gain it back…’

We are constantly inundated with numbers when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. And it is Georgia’s Department of Public Health that is facing a crisis of confidence after weeks of numbers blunders.  As people are trying to use that data to make decisions, there is increasing scrutiny on how the agency collects and communicates important statistics about the coronavirus pandemic.

We probe that issue with Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the state’s top health official talking with Sam Whitehead for our coronavirus podcast, “Did You Wash Your Hands?

A third arrest is made… 

William “Roddie” Bryan Jr.

A third man has been arrested in the death of Ahmaud Arbery. The 25-year old black man was jogging in south Georgia when he was shot and killed by two white men, who were charged with murder earlier this month. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation took William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. into custody on Thursday. He’s charged with felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

Cellphone video shows what happened when Arbery was killed. The 25-year-old comes upon a truck stopped in the road. After a brief scuffle, the video shows Arbery falling to the ground after a gun is fired. Investigators say Bryan took the cellphone video of the event. Bryan was said to have helped the McMichaels block Arbery while he was jogging. He says he was a bystander.

No trial date has been set for any of the defendants. Attorneys for the McMichaels say an unfair rush to judgment has been placed on their clients and the whole story will come out at court.

Remembering the past and highlighting the present… 

The head of the NAACP of DeKalb says it is important to remember the past and highlight the present in race relations in this state. For Teresa Hardy that, in part, comes in the form of a plaque at the Decatur courthouse to honor African American lynching victims.

The DeKalb branch of the NAACP installed a marker to memorialize African American victims of lynching in the area.
The DeKalb branch of the NAACP installed a marker to memorialize African American victims of lynching in the area. Troy Vincent, D.E. Smith and Teresa Hardy stand with the marker outside the historic courthouse in downtown Decatur.

More people wanting to help… 

Foster care advocates in Georgia worry that child neglect and abuse are going unreported as families stay home during the coronavirus pandemic. But Bob Bruder-Mattson, president and CEO of FaithBridge Foster Care in Alpharetta, says his agency has seen a big jump in those who are using its online training program to become foster parents.