DeKalb County issues stay-at-home order

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond has issued a stay at home order, ratcheting up the coronavirus-related restrictions he put in place earlier in the week.

The order, which goes into effect at 9 p.m. Saturday and remains in place until further notice, bans all public gatherings and instructs residents in unincorporated DeKalb to leave their homes as little as possible unless they’re seeking medical care. Exempted activities include “obtaining necessary services and supplies” and going to work for essential businesses — things like grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and a number of other retailers.

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It asks other businesses to “cease all but minimum basic operations.”

“We’re trying to save lives from the serious COVID-19 public health threat,” Thurmond said in a news release.

The move is another example of Georgia's local governments leading the effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus and the disease it causes. As of lunchtime Friday, Georgia had confirmed 2,001 cases of the virus and 566 people had been hospitalized. Sixty-four people had died.

Gov. Brian Kemp has put some restrictions in place but has resisted calls to issue a formal stay at home order.

The city of Atlanta, meanwhile, adopted its own such measures earlier this week. Several DeKalb County cities -- including Brookhaven, Decatur and Doraville --  did as well.

Neighboring Gwinnett County and its 16 cities also adopted such a measure late Friday — and DeKalb's order suggests Thurmond had been in contact with Gwinnett leaders too.

Thurmond’s order said that “the Chief Executive Officer of DeKalb County and the Chair of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners agree that a coordinated effort to encourage residents to limit activities out of the home is the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

DeKalb's new order escalates guidance Thurmond issued on Monday, which involved a voluntary curfew, restricting gatherings of more than 10 people and limiting restaurants to take-out service only.

It does not automatically apply to cities within DeKalb County but invites those municipalities to adopt similar ordinances for uniformity’s sake.