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Friday April 3rd, 2020 7:02PM

Death of Emory patient pushes Georgia virus death toll to 4

By The Associated Press
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ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia's death toll from COVID-19 has risen to four as more than 50 state lawmakers remain in self-quarantine and churches are told to halt worship services.

The most recent death was announced late Wednesday by Emory Healthcare.

The patient died “despite the heroic efforts of our physicians, nurses and care team,” Emory said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Thursday ordered all bars, gyms, movie theaters, performance venues and social clubs closed by the end of the day. After that time, restaurants will be limited to takeout or delivery only, according to the mayor's executive order. The Atlanta suburb of Brookhaven already made a similar move.

For most people, the virus 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.

State officials confirmed Wednesday that two COVID-19 patients have died in southwest Georgia, one of the hardest-hit areas outside metro Atlanta from the global outbreak.

The news came as state Sen. Brandon Beach, an Alpharetta Republican, announced late Wednesday that he had been diagnosed with the coronavirus, which causes the respiratory illness. Georgia's 235 other representatives and senators, plus legislative employees, are being recommended to self-quarantine through March 30. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican who presides over the state Senate, also said he is staying home. Others who have visited the capitol since March 10 are recommended to monitor their own health.

The General Assembly suspended its regular session Friday because of the coronavirus outbreak, but returned Monday to ratify a public health emergency declaration by Gov. Brian Kemp. Beach was tested Saturday but attended Monday after he said he was feeling better. Beach told people he was feeling ill as Monday progressed, though and said his test came back positive Wednesday.

Kemp does not believe he has been exposed, said spokeswoman Candice Broce. The Republican governor has been limiting his public events and meetings in recent days.

State officials hired a cleaning crew to sanitize the state Senate chamber, Beach's office in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, and building entrances that Beach's electronic access card shows he used, said Gerald Pilgrim, chief of staff for the Georgia Building Authority. The authority is also trying to enhance cleaning elsewhere in the capitol complex in downtown Atlanta and monitor the health of its custodial staff, Pilgrim said. The capitol building remains open to the public, he said.

The two women who died in Dougherty County were ages 42 and 69, and both had underlying medical conditions, the Georgia Department of Public Health said in a news release.

Details on the Emory patient were not immediately released.

Georgia has 197 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported Wednesday.

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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.

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