Julie Kirby shopping at the Kroger on Dallas Highway in west Cobb early Wendesday morning. Her pharmacist daughter urged her to don the mask. Jim Galloway, jgalloway@ajc.com

The Jolt: Movement in Georgia is down 36%, according to cell phone tracking app

Pardon the lateness of this morning’s post. The more ancient of your Insiders had to sample one of the newest features of the pandemic. Geezer Hour at the local Kroger starts at 7 a.m.

Scored on facial tissue (three box limit) and orange juice, but struck out on the arthritis-strength Tylenol. This is out in the unincorporated, western part of Cobb County. Commission Chairman Mike Boyce declared a state of emergency for the county Tuesday night, ordering residents to shelter in place in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

On the whole, Georgia is doing relatively well when it comes to social distancing. A company called Unacast is actually measuring the phenomenon using cell phone and other data. It gives our state a “B” – a 36% decline in travel since Feb. 28. Nationwide, that figure stands at 40%.

Social distancing in metro Atlanta, according to the stats:

-- Fulton County, movement is down 47%;

-- Gwinnett County, -43%

-- DeKalb County, -36%

-- Cobb County, -46%

-- Cherokee County, -43%

The top five Georgia counties showing the least movement: Washington, Marion, Glascock, Webster and Bleckley. The top five showing the most movement (apparently per capita): McIntosh, Cook, Twiggs, Monroe and Dooly. All 10 of these are mostly rural.

More on the company from the Washington Post:

How do they know that? Efforts to track public health during the coronavirus pandemic are a reminder of the many ways phones reveal our personal lives, both as individuals and in the aggregate. Unacast’s location data comes from games, shopping and utility apps that tens of millions of Americans have installed on their phones — information the company normally analyzes for retailers, real estate firms and marketers. It’s part of a shadowy world of location tracking that consumers often have little idea is going on.

It’s not alone. Google also collects and shares where we go. Long before the coronavirus, the Google Maps app has included a live read of how busy popular destinations are, based on location data. Facebook’s Instagram, too, lets you see other people who’ve recently shared updates from places. Both tools are useful for anyone who wants to practice social distancing and avoid spaces that are busy for a jog or fresh air during shelter-in-place orders.

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Gov. Brian Kemp will headline an hour-long, virtual town hall session at 8 p.m. Thursday to discuss the growing coronavirus pandemic. It will be broadcast on the six major TV channels in Atlanta.

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President Donald Trump may want the country up and running by Easter, but Democrats are already making contingency plans for a pandemic that is still racing through the country when delegates are scheduled to gather in Milwaukee to anoint their presidential nominee. According to CNN:

Top Democrats are actively considering a range of contingency plans for the party's July convention, multiple top Democrats [said], including possibly shortening the in-person portion of the gathering or going entirely digital.

The planning, a result of the coronavirus pandemic, is in its earliest stages and party officials said there is no deadline for convention organizers to begin to shift plans. But Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez and other top party officials have begun to solicit guidance from advisers about the future of the convention.

The decision to postpone this year's summer Olympics, announced Tuesday, put further pressure on convention planners.

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Jon Ossoff, a Democratic challenger, and U.S. Sen. David Perdue have fired off dueling editorials about the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Perdue’s op-ed in the Washington Examiner outlined a five-step process to “provide much-needed liquidity to businesses” battling insolvency during the economic shutdown. 

“If we inject liquidity into the market, people will still have a job to go back to when the coronavirus is contained,” wrote the Republican, a former Fortune 500 chief executive up for re-election in November. 

Ossoff, one of three top Democratic challengers, urged the federal government to take immediate action to boost hospital capacity, secure emergency financial relief and speed up containment efforts. 

“The immediate solutions are clear, but they must be implemented with the speed, competence, and focus demanded by a great challenge such as this,” wrote Ossoff at Medium.com. Ossoff’s media company investigated the 2014 Ebola outbreak. 

Another sign of how coronavirus is upending campaigns: Ossoff plans a virtual press conference later today to discuss stock trading by Perdue and U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler. 

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The New York Times reported Tuesday that Oracle, a company whose stock U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and her husband purchased in February, is creating an online platform that the federal government can use to track how patients are responding to malaria drugs as a treatment for the coronavirus:

The White House is preparing to use software provided by the technology giant Oracle to promote unproven coronavirus treatments, including a pair of malaria drugs publicized by President Trump, potentially before the government approves their use for the outbreak, according to five senior administration officials and others familiar with the plans.

An online platform designed by Oracle, in collaboration with the White House, is still taking shape, but it is likely to be used to collect information about off-label use of the drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which are not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Oracle is among two technology companies that U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., invested in after she and other senators began receiving COVID-19 briefings on Jan. 24.

According to data provided by her campaign, she and her husband, Jeff Sprecher, jointly purchased $168,647.33 in Oracle shares on Feb. 14. It was among roughly $500,000 in investments made during that time, compared to $1.8 million in sales.

Loeffler continues to downplay the controversy, saying it is fueled by misinformation about how she handles her finances. “I'm not involved in my portfolio; my husband is not involved,” Loeffler said during a Fox Business interview on Tuesday. “Our portfolio is managed by third parties. The actions are blind to me until they put it in front of me at the end of the reporting period.”

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U.S. Rep. Doug Collins’ campaign, meanwhile, contends it sees immediate traction from the stock trading fallout in its internal tracking polls. 

Take it with a grain of salt -- there’s no methodological data available -- but the Collins campaign shows U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s numbers dipping while Collins jumps a few points. It also shows Loeffler’s unfavorable ratings above 50% in the days after the stock trading story broke. 

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U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, is assisting the launch of a new campaign by March For Our Lives, the gun control group formed after the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Refinery 29 was the first to report on the “Our Power” online hub that will be used to collect data and urge young people to vote in 2020.

Today is the two-year anniversary of the inaugural March for Our Lives protests, which followed the Feb. 14 massacre.

“Two years ago, students from Parkland turned their pain and their tragedy into the @AMarch4OurLives gun violence prevention movement,” McBath wrote on Twitter. “Their courage inspires me & it inspires the millions of Americans who say #EnoughisEnough. Glad to support them in this fight to save lives.”

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