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 12, with news and details of COVID-19 in Georgia.
7:15 p.m.: While the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 remains small, efforts to contain the outbreak mean canceled events, fewer visitors and chilled consumer spending in Atlanta, Michael Kanell reports. Cancellations of high-profile events can ripple through a local economy, said Rajeev Dhawan, director of the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University.
7 p.m.: Gwinnett County Public Schools joined others Thursday in announcing students will learn from home at least the next week, Arlinda Smith Broady reports. Friday is a scheduled student/teacher holiday for Gwinnett County Public Schools, so Digital Learning Days will go into effect beginning Monday, March 16 through March 20.
6 p.m.: Fulton County will close school buildings and district offices starting at midnight “until further notice,” said Superintendent Mike Looney at an emergency meeting of the school board. Ben Brasch reports Friday will still be a work day for all district employees “as we determine how to best wind down operations in our school buildings and across district offices,” Looney said.
4:45 p.m.: Vanessa McCray reports that
4:30: p.m. One day after announcing the event would be played without fans in attendance the NCAA said Thursday its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, including the men’s Final Four here, will be canceled. Tim Tucker has the story.
4:30 p.m.: Despite an earlier message from the University System of Georgia that public campuses would remain open, the plan now is to close them for two weeks, per Gov. Brian Kemp’s press conference at 3 p.m. Maureen Downey reports that in a matter of hours, policy changed from all public colleges will be open to all will be closed for two weeks.
2:45 p.m.: Kenny Chesney will postpone the first round of dates on his “Chillaxification Tour,” Music Scene blogger Melissa Ruggieri reports. That includes his May 16 performance at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Chesney said he needs to consider the well-being of his road crew, as well as his fans.
2 p.m.: The cars will race, but the crowd will have to stay home. NASCAR announced Thursday fans will not be in attendance for this weekend’s activities at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which includes races for all three of NASCAR’s touring series.
1:30 p.m.: Braves beat writer Gabriel Burns says an announcement is expected shortly saying Major League Baseball will suspend operations following the coronavirus outbreak that has empty stands and ended seasons across the country.
1:15 p.m.: The ACC has canceled its men’s basketball tournament over concerns of the spread of the coronavirus, Georgia Tech beat writer Ken Sugiura reports, just as quarterfinal play was about to begin. The cancellation of the ACC tournament, along with the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 canceling their tournaments, casts significant questions as to whether the NCAA will continue to hold its own tournament, scheduled to begin next week.
12:30 p.m.: Gov. Brian Kemp’s office said Georgia’s first coronavirus-related death was a 67-year-old man who was hospitalized at Wellstar Kennestone, Greg Bluestein reports. State officials said the victim, who tested positive for the COVID-19 illness March 9, also had “underlying medical conditions.”
12:20 p.m.: If you can’t wrap your head around why people want March Madness and other large events canceled, a Georgia Tech professor spells it out for you, Get Schooled blogger Maureen Downey writes. “It comes down to simple probability,” he and his co-authors said.
Noon: Officials with Atlanta’s Final Four host committee are holding discussions with the NCAA about how to proceed with the event, Tim Tucker reports, including options for playing it in a smaller venue than Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
11:30 a.m.: Atlanta United beat writer Doug Roberson reports MLS will suspend its season for 30 days out of concern over the coronavirus. The league just finished its second of 34 rounds. Atlanta United (2-0-0) was scheduled to host Sporting KC on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
6:20 a.m.: Hawks beat writer Sarah K. Spencer reports Atlanta’s team will take today off and stay in their homes. The precautions are being taken after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus and the NBA suspended its 2020 season. The G League also has suspended the 2019-20 season after Wednesday’s games.
10 p.m.: Georgia now has 31 confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Greg Bluestein reports. There are 12 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 19 presumed positive cases awaiting more testing. Most of the cases are in metro Atlanta, but several have been reported in more rural parts of the state.
9 p.m.: President Donald Trump says most travel will be suspended from Europe to the U.S. starting Friday night. The United Kingdom is not included. The ban also won't apply to Americans trying to return home — though they will be subject to “enhanced” health screening.
WEDNESDAY’S TOP STORIES
- Actor Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- The NBA announced it will suspend the rest of its season
- NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, including the men’s Final Four in Atlanta, will be played without fans
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