Latest Atlanta coronavirus news: Atlanta mayor limits gatherings to 50 people

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Number of cases in Georgia climbs to 121

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is committed to providing our readers with the most comprehensive coverage of the deadly coronavirus.

This blog will be updated throughout Monday, March 16, with news and details of COVID-19 in Georgia.

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3:15 p.m.: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is revising her executive order limiting public gatherings from 250 to 50 people to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Stephen Deere reports.

3 p.m.: Actor and part-time Atlanta resident Idris Elba has tested positive for the coronavirus, Kiersten Willis reports.  "This morning I tested positive for Covid 19. I feel ok, I have no symptoms so far but have been isolated since I found out about my possible exposure to the virus. Stay home people and be pragmatic. I will keep you updated on how I'm doing No panic," he tweeted.

2:30 p.m.: 

Tents set up behind the emergency room at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta are for are for isolating patients with cough, cold or fever, Jennifer Brett reports

1 p.m.: The number of cases in Georgia climbs to 121, Chelsea Prince reports. New cases were confirmed in Cherokee, Clarke, Clayton, Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Lowndes counties, according to the agency. Of those, Clayton, Cobb and Fulton counties reported the largest increases, with three new cases each in Clayton and Cobb and seven in Fulton.

1 p.m.: What'll ya have? Not a seat inside. Matt Kempner reports The Varsity is temporarily closing dining-room seating and inside counter service at most locations, the latest local business to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Noon: 

Two Emory University undergraduate students have tested positive for COVID-19, school officials announced Monday. Eric Stirgus updates his story from earlier this morning.

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11 a.m.: 

Emory University is testing two undergraduate students to determine if they have the coronavirus, Eric Stirgus reports
“Neither case has been confirmed but, out of an abundance of caution, both students are self-isolating in off-campus housing provided by the university,” Emory said in a statement last weekend to students, faculty and staff.

10:30: At least eight Atlanta United games would be affected if MLS follows the recommendation made Sunday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all gatherings of more than 50 people during the next eight weeks be postponed, canceled or rescheduled to try to curb the spread of COVID-19. Our Five Stripes beat writer Doug Roberson has the details.

10 a.m.: 

A Georgia state representative is self-quarantined at home after being exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, Mark Niesse and Greg Bluestein report.
The identity of the representative wasn't immediately disclosed. About 40 legislators were absent from a special legislative session Monday to give Gov. Brian Kemp new powers to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, a significantly higher number than normal.

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9:30 a.m.: 

Bibb County Schools will close indefinitely beginning Tuesday due to the coronavirus outbreak, Stephanie Toone reports.
According to a press release from the Bibb County School District, students and teachers will be expected to participate in the eLearning system during that time while at home.

9 a.m.: Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office has plans to mail absentee ballot applications for the May 19 contest to older voters throughout Georgia, in order to keep those most vulnerable away from long lines and touch screens that could expose them to the virus. Our Political Insider bloggers have the details.

8 a.m.: DeKalb County has begun restricting public access to government buildings and facilities, Tyler Estep reports, a move aimed at limiting personal contact and protecting workers from the spread of coronavirus.   But county officials said crucial public services will remain available — through a "socially distant service delivery strategy."

7 a.m.: GDOT has begun posting public health alerts along Georgia highways as the coronavirus outbreak escalates, David Wickert reports. Messages like "coronavirus/avoid public events" began popping up on digital highway traffic signs this weekend.

6:45 a.m.: Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A said it is temporarily closing dine-in seating at its restaurants, Matt Kempner reports, joining a wave of U.S. businesses cutting back operations as the coronavirus outbreak intensifies.

6:30 a.m.: Realizing we're all in this together, an anonymous donor gave several hundred bottles of hand sanitizer to a local Gwinnett advocacy group. Arlinda Smith Broady reports the group then distributed the bottles during meal pickups at Gwinnett schools.

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6 a.m.: Thousands of Atlantans will go to work today without ever leaving home, Matt Kempner and Michael E. Kanell report. A hefty chunk of metro Atlanta workers may not be able to make such moves, however.

» A roundup of metro county services reduced or adapted for coronavirus control

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