A look at major coronavirus developments over the past week

The Fulton County Government Center was sporadically bustling in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, on Monday, June 29, 2020. All visitors and employees entering the Fulton County Government Center were told to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and they had their temperature checked before entering the building in an attempt to decrease the spread of COVID-19. (REBECCA WRIGHT FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION)
The Fulton County Government Center was sporadically bustling in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, on Monday, June 29, 2020. All visitors and employees entering the Fulton County Government Center were told to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and they had their temperature checked before entering the building in an attempt to decrease the spread of COVID-19. (REBECCA WRIGHT FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION)

Credit: REBECCA WRIGHT FOR THE ATLANTA J

Credit: REBECCA WRIGHT FOR THE ATLANTA J

A handful of schools in Georgia are now open as the pandemic rages on and the public continues to debate whether it’s too soon to return to classroom learning.

In its second day of the new school year, the Cherokee County School District shut down a second-grade classroom at Sixes Elementary School in Canton after a student tested positive for COVID-19, spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said Tuesday. The teacher and 20 other students in the class must quarantine for two weeks. Students will be taught online while the classroom is deep-cleaned.

Also, on the first day of school in Marietta, where students are fully remote, a spokeswoman said five district employees had tested positive for COVID-19.

Here’s a look at major coronavirus developments in the state over the past week:

ExploreCORONAVIRUS IN GEORGIA/COMPLETE COVERAGE

Schools open and face coronavirus cases right away

More than three-quarters of Cherokee County's 42,000 students returned to classes Monday, while 23% chose the district's digital learning option. Cherokee is among the first districts in the country to reopen in what will be a vast experiment in keeping a wily and determined virus at bay.

“We are still not sure what the best ways to open different schools are,” said Charlene Wong, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Duke School of Medicine. “This is going to be an opportunity for us to learn and to course correct as we go because we are probably not going to get it right out of the gate. This is the first time we ever tried to do something at this scale across the country. "

Some districts that had planned to hold in-person activities are reconsidering as the virus surges.

The Cobb County School District has released a phased approach to restart in-person classes during the 2020-21 school year.
The Cobb County School District has released a phased approach to restart in-person classes during the 2020-21 school year.

Credit: Pixabay

Credit: Pixabay

Other districts were moving forward with in-person plans. Gwinnett and Cobb county school districts — the first and second largest in the state — both announced on Tuesday plans to return to in-person classes.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, repeated Monday what many child advocates, including the American Academy of Pediatricians, have been saying for weeks: Students need school for the psychological and nutritional benefits. He added a crucial caveat: only if they can be there safely, according to CNN.

Commuters wearing masks as a precaution amid the spread of COVID-19 ride their bicycles in the Miraflores area of Lima. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)
Commuters wearing masks as a precaution amid the spread of COVID-19 ride their bicycles in the Miraflores area of Lima. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

More details released on 7-year-old Georgia boy’s coronavirus-related death death

An initial investigation suggests that the 7-year-old Savannah boy listed as the youngest Georgian to die from coronavirus had a fever-fueled seizure while in the bathtub and drowned, a local official told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Chatham County Coroner Bill Wessinger confirmed previous reports from Savannah media regarding the boy’s death, which was included in the state’s daily coronavirus report on Thursday. The boy, whose identity has not been released, actually died about two weeks before that, Wessinger said.

Deaths from the virus are rare among children. Infections tend to be less severe in kids than in adults. But COVID-19 is not without risks even for the young. In recent weeks, state health officials have warned about a dangerous inflammatory condition in children that is suspected to be linked to the virus.

Georgia jobless claims falling, but still high

The number of claims for unemployment benefits dropped for the third consecutive week in Georgia according to the latest figures from labor department officials.

The state processed 73,931 new claims the week ending Saturday Aug. 1 — down from 84,984 the previous week. Still, the number of people receiving benefits — about 636,000 — is more than 25 times higher than it was pre-pandemic, said economist Kurt Rankin of the PNC Financial Services Group.

Georgia lost 530,000 jobs in March and April, but added back 250,000 as restaurants and other businesses reopened.

Home delivery of liquor is on the way

With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the way many Georgians shop, Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday signed legislation allowing stores and at least some restaurants to deliver beer, wine and booze to homes.

Only a decade ago Georgia didn't allow stores to even sell alcoholic beverages on Sundays, but the political climate has changed greatly since then. The coronavirus pandemic, which persuaded more Georgians to have groceries and other goods delivered to their homes, is credited with helping spur that change and made House Bill 879 easier to pass.

House Ways and Means Chairman Brett Harrell, R-Snellville, the measure’s sponsor, said it could take a few months before businesses can start deliveries.

AJC staff writers Ty Tagami, James Salzer, Michael E. Kanell, Tyler Estep and Maureen Downey contributed to this article.