Latest Atlanta coronavirus news: 8 more people have died since noon

There are now 1,643 confirmed cases and 56 deaths in Georgia

The Georgia Municipal Association has recommended all 538 cities in the state declare public health care emergencies.

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 Thursday, March 26, with news and details of COVID-19 in Georgia.

» Complete coverage: Coronavirus

7 p.m.: With eight additional COVID-19 deaths recorded statewide, Georgia has now topped 50 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, Chelsea Prince and Zachary Hansen report. In total, 56 patients in the state have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The Department of Public Health also announced 118 more confirmed coronavirus cases since noon, bringing the state's total to 1,643. Of those patients, 509 are hospitalized, which is about 31% of all cases.

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3:30 p.m.: 

2:33 p.m.: The Georgia Department of Labor said 12,140 Georgians filed for unemployment insurance in the week that ended March 21 as businesses across the state closed or contracted in an effort to slow down spread of the coronavirus. Michael E. Kanell reports that is more than double the previous week's claims number, and officials said they expect higher claims in coming weeks.

1:45 p.m.: Jeremy Redmon reports all of the nearly 500 Grand Princess cruise ship passengers who were quarantined at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta have left the military installation.

» Coronavirus in Georgia: stats in real time


11:45 a.m.: In a move affecting nearly 2 million children and their parents, Gov. Brian Kemp ordered the continued closure of schools until at least April 24 in the ongoing fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic. Ty Tagami and Greg Bluestein have the details.

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» Map tracks global spread of the coronavirus

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8 a.m.: In a world that has been paralyzed by COVID-19 restrictions, golf remains an interest that offers a release, a chance to get outside and participate in an activity that seems normal in an abnormal environment. Especially when the weather is nice. For the AJC, Stan Awtrey reports on open golf courses.6 a.m.: Frustrated with Gov. Brian Kemp's response to Georgia's growing coronavirus crisis, Greg Bluestein reports, state Democrats are gathering sharp questions from voters ahead of tonight's town hall featuring the Republican and some of his top deputies. Rodney Ho has details on when and where to watch the town hall.

» How to tell the difference between coronavirus and seasonal allergy symptoms

6 a.m.: About 400 third- and fourth-year students at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University are scheduled to begin assisting the state's 18 public health districts. Eric Stirgus reports they will be advising patients about whether they need to be tested for the virus and performing other tasks, the college announced this week.

» GPB bolsters programming for students learning at home during pandemic


An expected surge in coronavirus cases has public health officials increasingly worried that Georgia hospitals will be unable to treat everyone who becomes critically ill as the pandemic worsens. Alan Judd tells you why.

Georgia's small businesses — from restaurants to hair salons — are hanging by a thread as the economy sinks because of the coronavirus outbreak. Many have furloughed workers or temporarily closed. Matt Kempner and Christopher Quinn report on what business owners are saying.

» This map tracks the coronavirus globally in real time