Latest Atlanta coronavirus news: So many cancellations shake city’s economy

Update on cases in Georgia: 12 confirmed and 19 presumed positive; one death

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.

» Complete coverage: Coronavirus

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.

5 p.m.: 

The Georgia Legislature is suspending its session indefinitely, leaders announced Thursday afternoonAmanda Coyne and Maya Prabhu report t
he House and Senate will stop meeting after completing work Friday. Speaker David Ralston urged members of the House of Representatives to go home Thursday night or Friday morning, once the day’s work was done. House staff will begin working remotely on Friday. Senate members are expected to be in session Friday.

5 p.m.: 

The Cobb County School District and at least one private school will take Gov. Brian Kemp’s advice and shut down to fight the spread of COVID-19, Kristal Dixon reports.
Cobb County School District said it will close effective Monday, March 16 “until further notice.” The district said the closure extends to all activities, sports, field trips and extracurricular activities.

4:45 p.m.: 

reports that

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen announced the decision in a Thursday afternoon message posted on Twitter. She advised parents “to prepare for an extended leave starting Monday.”

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.

» Gyms in metro Atlanta respond to coronavirus by exercising caution

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.

4:30 p.m.: 

The coronavirus outbreak has canceled several events, but the Atlanta Fair will remain open, Raisa Habersham reports. 
An abundance of antibacterial soap will be at all hand-washing stations, fair officials said. Dozens of alcohol-based hand sanitizers have been placed throughout the fairgounds as well.

3:15 p.m.: 

Gov. Brian Kemp ordered thousands of state employees to work from home, Greg Bluestein reports. 
The governor also issued a “call to action” for schools and day care centers that he described as giving them the clearance to shut down if local administrators agree it’s necessary.

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.

1:45 p.m.: Voting at senior facilities will proceedBen Brasch reports. Some Fulton County elections board members say they believe that puts seniors at risk of getting coronavirus.

» 5 myths about coronavirus debunked by WHO

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.

» Sports world reeling as coronavirus sparks massive suspensions, cancellations

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.

» Mark Bradley column: The SEC cancels; the NCAA should do the same

» Georgia bucks trend and keeps its public campuses open

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.

» Event cancellations in and around metro Atlanta because of coronavirus

Noon: Officials with Atlanta's Final Four host committee are holding discussions with the NCAA about how to proceed with the eventTim 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.

9:30 a.m.: 

second plane carrying passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship touched down at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Chelsea Prince reports. The first passengers arrived Wednesday. Officials have said 34 Georgians and dozens from other states will be quarantined at the base for 14 days after they were possibly exposed to the coronavirus.

» Good news: No evidence dogs and cats can get coronavirus

» Citing the pandemic, House Democrats call for a quick end to state Capitol deliberations

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.

» What they are saying: NBA suspends season

» 7 ways to stay physically active when you're stuck at home


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.

» Emory is first Georgia college to close campus over coronavirus and move classes online

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.


» Separating coronavirus fact from fiction: Where to get official government information