A look at major coronavirus developments over the past week

March 29, 2020 Atlanta: Customers wait in line to enter the Home Depot store at Midtown Place while the store limits the number of occupants to maintain six feet of space between shoppers and help prevent the spread of coronavirus on Sunday, March 29, 2020, in Atlanta.   Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
March 29, 2020 Atlanta: Customers wait in line to enter the Home Depot store at Midtown Place while the store limits the number of occupants to maintain six feet of space between shoppers and help prevent the spread of coronavirus on Sunday, March 29, 2020, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Though there have been improvements in some parts of Georgia, the state remains in the red zone for the severity of the coronavirus outbreak as measured by the rate of growth in cases and positive tests, according to the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Nearly every county in Georgia reports the virus is spreading at a rate greater than 100 new cases per 100,000 people over a 14-day period. That’s the threshold for being considered an area of substantial spread by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Gwinnett’s rate is more than three times that level. But, since the state saw its peak of newly reported virus cases July 24, there’s been a downward trend in Gwinnett, DeKalb and several other metro Atlanta counties. Overall cases in the state has declined in each of the past four full weeks.

For several weeks in June and July, Gwinnett — Georgia’s second-largest county — topped everywhere else in the state for total COVID-19 cases. On July 2, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams visited, calling on citizens to wear masks.

Gwinnett health officials said the county is seeing progress in its fight against the coronavirus as the rate of cases decline and long waits for test results improve.

According to data from the state, Gwinnett reported a 14% decline in new cases for the 14 days that ended Tuesday, compared to the previous 14-day period.

Here’s a look at other major coronavirus related news in Georgia over the past week:

Georgia colleges see climb in cases

Several Georgia colleges and universities have reported an increase in COVID-19 cases.

The University of North Georgia reported 49 cases over a recent seven-day-period. A video of an off-campus party, with throngs of maskless students, made national headlines. Classes there began August 17.

The University of Georgia on Wednesday reported 47 cases over the prior seven days. Classes there began Thursday. UGA conducted nearly 800 surveillance tests to identify asymptomatic carriers during that time frame and reported three positive results for a rate of 0.38%, according to its website.

Georgia Tech reported 22 cases over a recent seven-day period.

Officials at the colleges and universities stress that some of the students and staff who were diagnosed with the COVID-19 were off-campus when they caught the virus and then tested positive.

UGA offers COVID-19 testing and has put in place other measures to reduce the spread of the disease, but many faculty members and students have said the efforts do not go far enough.

There have been renewed calls from some faculty and students for University System schools to conduct all classes online for the fall semester. UGA President Jere Morehead and University System of Georgia leaders have stressed the need for some form of in-person learning.

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Delta cap seating at 75% through holidays

Delta Air Lines said it will limit seating on its planes to 75% capacity in the main cabin from October through early January of next year. That’s up from the current 60% cap.

The cap on seating allows Delta to better space out passengers, with middle seats blocked, in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The airline will allow middle seats to be booked for customers in parties of three or more, such as families with children.

Airlines have seen a significant decline in business due to the pandemic, with air travel down about 70%.

On planes without middle seats, the airline said it will block certain other seats.

In first-class on certain Delta Connection regional jets, it will cap seating at 67%.

Blocking middle seats does not necessarily mean passengers will be 6 feet away from each other. But Delta’s chief customer experience officer Bill Lentsch said medical experts have said “more distance onboard makes a difference.”

In this file photo, Bernard Kip Lagat and Stephane Bruce celebrate winning the AJC Peachtree Road Race on July 4, 2018, in Atlanta.     Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
In this file photo, Bernard Kip Lagat and Stephane Bruce celebrate winning the AJC Peachtree Road Race on July 4, 2018, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

AJC Peachtree Road Race will be run virtually

The Atlanta Track Club announced The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race will be run solely in a virtual setting this year.

The race was initially delayed from its customary July 4 date to Thanksgiving Day in hopes that COVID-19 would be better controlled. The Atlanta Track Club said the continued spread of COVID-19 means that it’s not feasible for all participants to run the race together.

Participants will design a 6.2-mile course of their choosing with the use of an app and run on Thanksgiving. The track club will create an app that will enable participants to track their times and measure their performance against other finishers.

Staff writers Amanda Coyne, Ken Sugiura, Eric Stirgus and Kelly Yamanouchi contributed to this article.