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Monday March 30th, 2020 9:57AM

Georgia church alerts members after 2 worshipers get virus

By The Associated Press
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ATLANTA (AP) — A church outside Atlanta is asking members to monitor their health after two worshipers who attended Sunday services the past two weeks tested positive for COVID-19.

In Cartersville, the Church at Liberty Square in Cartersville was sanitized and plans to resume services Sunday, Senior Pastor Jacob King wrote in a letter on the congregation's website.

Georgia public health officials said they have been notifying people who came in contact with the infected worshipers at the church 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of Atlanta.

They're among 42 cases of COVID-19 in the state, mostly in metro Atlanta and in northwest Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. One person — a 67-year-old man —- has died in Georgia.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. People with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover, according to the World Health Organization.

Georgia school districts and day care centers should consider closing for two weeks starting tomorrow, Gov. Brian Kemp said at a Thursday news conference later, though he stressed he was not ordering them to do so.

Districts responded quickly, though. By Monday, more than 1 million of Georgia's 1.8 million public school students will have been kept home by 50 or more school districts statewide, according to the Georgia Department of Education. That includes every large district in metro Atlanta. Many of those systems say they plan to close for two weeks or until further notice, although some are hoping to take fewer days off. Most schools say they hope to continue delivering lessons online.

The University System of Georgia announced late Thursday that its 26 public colleges and universities would close for two weeks beginning Monday to test online instruction plans and monitor the progress of the epidemic. Emory University said it was shifting instruction online for the rest of the semester as are the four historically black colleges of Atlanta University Center — Spelman College, Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University and the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Legislative leaders announced Thursday they would suspend the 2020 session of the Georgia General Assembly until further notice. Before Thursday, legislative leaders had planned to end the session April 2.

The virus is also likely to crimp Georgia's economy. Events including a large dental convention and the NCAA Final Four that had been scheduled for downtown Atlanta have been called off. Delta Air Lines, with 36,000 employees in Georgia, is among travel industry pillars facing big challenges.

In a show of defiance amid the mass cancellations, Tybee Island will host its St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, the city council decided in a 3-2 vote, The Savannah Morning News reported. Though city councilors decided to hold the parade as planned, some residents warned against it.

“Who wants to die?” resident Diana Scarwid asked while looking over the crowd of about 50 at Thursday's city council meeting. “I don’t see any hands going up.”

Having the parade “could have devastating consequences to our population and wipe us out,” she added.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

  • Associated Categories: Local/State News, Associated Press (AP), AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
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