The Jolt: In the South, coronavirus victims are trending younger

April 1, 2020 Atlanta: A masked man wearing a Screened sticker exits the hospital past the detour curtains at Grady hospital which is going under repairs after a December flood. As of Wednesday, April 1, 2020, Grady Memorial Hospital has two mobile medical units. One was brought in to handle overflow related to the flu and the other unit added capacity after the flood they experienced in December which forced Grady to close several floors. Other hospitals around the state may get similar units in the coming days to help handle coronavirus patients. The state of Georgia has ordered "medical pods" that are like a regular hospital and can have up to 25 beds. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia has more than doubled in the past five days, from just over 2,000 cases Friday to more than 4,500 Wednesday. There are now at least 4,638 cases and 139 deaths statewide, according to the latest data from the Georgia Department of Public Health. Fourteen more Georgians have died since Tuesday night as a result of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia has more than doubled in the past five days, from just over 2,000 cases Friday to more than 4,500 Wednesday. There are now at least 4,638 cases and 139 deaths statewide, according to the latest data from the Georgia Department of Public Health. Fourteen more Georgians have died since Tuesday night as a result of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The count increased about 35% between Monday and Tuesday, and the latest figures represent an increase of about 13% Wednesday. Additional growth is expected when the Department of Public Health releases its next update at 7 p.m. Of those who have tested positive for COVID-19, 952 are hospitalized Wednesday, according to the health department. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM



The South may be putting its own spin on this worldwide pandemic. Those with a fatal dose of the coronavirus here tend to be younger than in other areas of the nation – or world, for that matter. From The Atlantic:

Although the majority of coronavirus-related deaths in Louisiana are still among victims over 70 years old, 43 percent of all reported deaths have been people under 70. In Georgia, people under 70 make up 49 percent of reported deaths. By comparison, people under 70 account for only 20 percent of deaths in Colorado…

In Louisiana, people from the ages of 40 to 59 account for 22 percent of all deaths. The same age range in Georgia accounts for 17 percent of all deaths. By comparison, the same age group accounts for only about 10 percent of all deaths in Colorado, and 6 percent of all deaths in Washington State.

These statistics suggest that middle-aged and working-age adults in the two southern states are at much greater risk than their counterparts elsewhere; for some reason, they are more likely to die from COVID-19.

The above stats don't lessen the danger of the coronavirus for older Georgians, perhaps especially those in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. From our AJC colleagues Carrie Teegardin and Brad Schrade:

[On] Thursday, DPH said there were 58 facilities reporting the infection and confirmed that two nursing homes have such widespread infections that the facilities are struggling to properly function. In Albany, PruittHealth - Palmyra has 35 residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, and seven have died since March 15, the company confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Just north, in neighboring Terrell County, Dawson Health and Rehabilitation nursing home said it had 16 patients who tested positive and six of them have died.


Already posted:

-- The Democratic National Convention, originally scheduled for July, will be moved to August because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden made the push for delaying the Milwaukee convention, which was scheduled for July 13-16. It reportedly will begin Aug. 17. The GOP nominating convention is scheduled to convene the following Monday, Aug. 24, in Charlotte.

-- The Georgia Labor Department said Thursday that it processed 133,820 claims for unemployment benefits last week – a stunning increase that reflects the virtual shutdown of many sectors in the state's economy, according to our AJC colleague Michael Kanell. It was the highest number of claims ever processed in a week and was more than 10 times the previous week's number.

-- The Insider column for Sunday looks at the hunt for masks to protect health care workers and first responders in a volatile pandemic market.


The Washington Post is up with a piece explaining why a shift to voting-by-mail, as Georgia is emphasizing for the May 19 primaries, isn't as easy as it might seem. For instance:

[S]tates can't just mail out the ballots they already have printed. They have to design ballots that can be folded into an envelope. They also need to print instructions for how to fill it out and send it back. And they need to design the ballot to work with the Postal Service, Underhill said. "So instead of one piece of paper with a ballot, you have several pieces of paper that need to be prepared," she said.


The Democratic Party of Georgia sharpened its critique of U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler's stock trades as the coronavirus spread with a digital ad featuring TV news coverage of the sales.

It ends with a refrain that would sound familiar to her chief Republican adversary, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins: "Kelly Loeffler can't buy her way out of this. Georgians deserve better." See the video for yourself.


On the same note, your Insiders obtained a copy of an internal poll conducted by U.S. Rep. Doug Collins' pollster that showed him leading the Senate pack. But what really caught our eye was a question deeper down the line.

The question posited to roughly 1,000 likely voters:

"Thinking about the coronavirus, do you think the country should re-open for business OR do you think business should remain shut down indefinitely until doctors say it is safe to resume?"

Roughly 80% of the respondents wanted to remain shut down, while just 10% said the nation should reopen for business. The remaining 12% wasn’t sure.

When asked who to blame for the crisis - the Chinese government, the U.S. government or no one - the response was a bit more divided.

About 40% wanted to blame the Chinese, 36% said it was no one’s fault and 16% pointed a finger at the U.S. government. Roughly 8% said they weren’t sure.


At a virtual town hall this week, Democratic Senate candidate Teresa Tomlinson was asked about the AJC poll that showed her and Sarah Riggs Amico trailing Jon Ossoff in the May 19 primary.

The former Columbus mayor said her own polling firm in February found that she leads the field when “the voters know who Jon Ossoff is, who Sarah Riggs Amico is, and who I am.”

“That means we have our work cut out for us to make sure the people know who I am,” said Tomlinson, who mentioned Ossoff has “$32 million worth of name recognition” from his 2017 U.S. House bid.

“People want electability. They want this profile,” she said of her mayoral experience. “We just have to get in front of them.”


Democrats have seized on House Speaker David Ralston's concerns that expanded mail-in voting could endanger conservatives by increasing the electorate. Among them are two Democrats vying to take on Republican David Perdue.

From Senate candidate Sarah Riggs Amico:

"Voters have an antidote to such tactics, and that's the kind of explosive turnout Republican leaders are so afraid of, and that we're seeing this election cycle. They should, in fact, be worried."

Senate candidate Teresa Tomlinson:

"Republicans, who just days ago refused to support a stay-at-home order to protect us, now insist that home balloting is too advantageous for Democrats to be allowed. This isn't about public safety for them, it's about their political self-interest.


One of the state's most prominent voices backed Gov. Brian Kemp's shelter in place policy that was unveiled late Thursday. Metro Atlanta Chamber president Hala Moddelmog sent over this statement last night:

"Faced with an ongoing series of tough decisions, Gov. Kemp has chosen the most responsible path. Shelter in place is our best hope to save lives, preserve a functioning healthcare system, ensure uniformity and certainty for businesses across the state, and allow our economy to get back on its feet.

"We know the decision will also bring short-term economic hardships that we will have to face together. We will continue to look to the countless Georgians who are working to guide us through these uncertain times and help us get to the other side as a stronger community, region and state."


Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg spent more on his presidential campaign than any other candidate in history, but it never gained the traction he hoped. And now scores of former employees say he has failed to keep promises that they would have jobs through the general election regardless of whether he was the nominee.

One class-action lawsuit, covered in a National Public Radio report, involves 80 plaintiffs and claims Bloomberg deprived laid off employees of income and health insurance as a global pandemic took hold. More from NPR:

Another proposed class action lawsuit was filed the same day by former Bloomberg field staffers in Georgia, Utah and Washington. That complaint alleges that after Bloomberg lost the Democratic nomination, "his campaign unceremoniously dumped thousands of staffers, leaving them with no employment, no income, and no health insurance."


Reports of suspected child abuse in Georgia have dropped by half since the coronavirus pandemic led to the closure of schools, the AJC's Maya T. Prabhu reports.

Georgia Division of Family and Children Services officials said the drop in reporting is likely due to the fact that people who are mandated by state law to report suspicions, including school staff members, are no longer having daily contact with children.

DFCS Director Tom Rawlings said reports of suspected abuse and neglect have dropped by 50% since schools closed March 18. He said similar drops in reporting happen when students are out of school for the winter holidays and summer breaks.

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