Coronavirus recap: major developments in Georgia over past week

International travelers leave after they landed Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
International travelers leave after they landed Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Georgia now has five confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Saturday morning, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. 

State officials said they expect to see more diagnoses but that the risk for transmission here remains low. They urged people to remain calm. At the same time, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say Americans should prepare for the possibility of significant disruptions in their daily lives.

Here’s a look at major developments in Georgia this past week related to the coronavirus.

Cases in Georgia

On Monday, a Fulton County father and his teenage son were diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus. The father had recently traveled to Italy.

On Friday, a 46-year-old woman was hospitalized at Floyd Medical Center in northwest Georgia hospital. She  preliminarily tested positive for coronavirus, and it was confirmed Saturday morning. She was in stable condition in isolation. The source of her exposure is unknown, according to hospital officials.

A Floyd Medical Center physician pushed for a coronavirus test for a patient, which turned out positive in preliminary results. Floyd Medical Center is in Rome, in northeast Georgia. The patient had not traveled to countries thought to be high-risk. She had been to Washington, D.C. Officials on friday announced two cases in New York patients who had recently visited a conference in Washington, D.C.
A Floyd Medical Center physician pushed for a coronavirus test for a patient, which turned out positive in preliminary results. Floyd Medical Center is in Rome, in northeast Georgia. The patient had not traveled to countries thought to be high-risk. She had been to Washington, D.C. Officials on friday announced two cases in New York patients who had recently visited a conference in Washington, D.C.

Floyd Medical Center clinicians made the determination to admit her to the hospital, despite the Department of Public Health saying she did not meet COVID-19 screening criteria.

She was placed in isolation and screened further at the “adamant urging” of the attending physician and others.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Everything you need to know about coronavirus 

» MORE:  Breaking: Three new more coronavirus cases confirmed in Georgia. 

On Saturday morning, the governor’s office confirmed two additional cases: one in Cobb County and one in Fulton County. Additional details were not immediately available.

Home-school academies temporarily closed

Living Science Academy and Compass Prep Academy, both in Cherokee County, have temporarily shut down. The Fulton County teenager — one of the two confirmed cases of COVID-19 — attended class at Living Science. He also attended a class with the child of one of Compass Prep’s teachers.

The Georgia Department of Public Health has asked students who shared classes with the teen to “self-quarantine in an abundance of caution,” Cherokee schools spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said.

Some students who attend classes at Compass Prep and Living Science Academy have siblings who attend the county’s public school system, Jacoby added. “We’re communicating daily with DPH officials, and they are not recommending any … school closures at this time,” she said.

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Cherokee, a state Health Department spokeswoman said Thursday.

President Trump visits CDC

In a trip designed to highlight his administration’s response to coronavirus, President Donald Trump visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s main Atlanta campus on Friday.

Trump has tried to re-frame his handling of the illness after facing criticism for trivializing the extent of the threat and for fuming at Dr. Nancy Messonnier, a top CDC official, after she spoke of the likelihood of a potential outbreak in the U.S.

Shortly before boarding Air Force One, Trump signed an $8.3 billion package of emergency aid for coronavirus response, which includes more than $3 billion for research and development of test kits, treatments and vaccines. The amount vastly exceeded the $2.5 billion in emergency funding the White House initially proposed.

The CDC, too, has faced intense scrutiny over its approach to the illness. Standing beside Trump, several of the agency’s administrators vowed more tests and more research of the virus were in the works.

Testing to ramp up in Georgia.

A series of missteps by the CDC has delayed diagnostic testing for coronavirus in Georgia and across the country.

State health departments initially received flawed diagnostic kits from the CDC, which made them unusable. That meant all testing had to be done at the CDC.

Georgia health officials recently received new test kits and labs conducted 30 tests for coronavirus on Thursday. Federal authorities are gearing up for a rapid expansion of the nation’s testing capacity, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said during a press conference Friday. Nationally, public and private labs combined are projected to be able to test more than a million people by next week, Adams said.

Atlanta couple comes home

An Atlanta couple, sickened by coronavirus last month while vacationing on a cruise ship in Japan, are fully recovered.

Renee and Clyde Smith, both 80, have returned home to Atlanta. They never experienced symptoms but were hospitalized for more than three weeks after testing positive for the virus, according to their son, David Smith, an attorney who lives in Macon.

Renee and Clyde Smith’s trip to Asia started well, and here they are on an excursion to Hạ Long Bay in northeast Vietnam. But the trip took a turn when were tested positive for a new coronavirus. They are now hospitalized in Japan. CONTRIBUTED
Renee and Clyde Smith’s trip to Asia started well, and here they are on an excursion to Hạ Long Bay in northeast Vietnam. But the trip took a turn when were tested positive for a new coronavirus. They are now hospitalized in Japan. CONTRIBUTED

They got the all clear after two tests for each of them came back negative, according to Smith.

“It’s awesome,” the son said. “We are so relieved. And it’s a reminder we should never panic.”

<em>Staff writers Jeremy Redmon and Greg Bluestein contributed to this article.</em>

In Other News