The COVID-19 pandemic was first detected in the U.S. state of Georgia on March 2, 2020. The state’s first death came ten days later on March 12. As of September 25, 2020, there were 312,514 confirmed cases, 28,035 hospitalizations, and 6,874 deaths. All of Georgia’s 159 counties now report COVID-19 cases, with four counties (Gwinnett, Fulton, DeKalb and Cobb) now reporting over 18,000 cases each. Three low-population counties (Early, Randolph and Terrell) have higher per capita case rates and death rates .
The city of Albany became a major hot spot within the state with one of the highest densities of COVID-19 infections in the world based on the size of its population. With approximately 75,000 residents, there have been 973 confirmed cases and 56 deaths at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, with many more still awaiting test results, quarantined inside their homes as of April 8, 2020. Governor Brian Kemp declared an “unprecedented” public health emergency on March 14 and ordered on March 16 that all public schools, colleges, and universities in the state close from March 18 through the start of April.
On March 23, Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signed a 14-day stay-at-home order to direct all city residents to stay at home except for performing essential tasks through April 7.This followed a city-wide state of emergency on March 15 prohibiting “large public gatherings of more than 250 people”and a March 20 order for businesses to close. The city of South Fulton instituted a curfew on March 17, requiring residents to stay at home from 6:00 PM to 7:00 AM (with work and medical exceptions) and barring gatherings of more than ten people. As of September 25, 2020, Georgia has the fifth-highest number of confirmed cases in the United States, and the sixth-highest number of confirmed cases per capita.
On March 8, Governor Brian Kemp announced that a number of Americans on the cruise ship Grand Princess — including 34 Georgians — would be “securely transferred” to Dobbins Air Reserve Base for testing and quarantine on March 9 or 10. On March 10, the Department of Public Health reported five additional cases, bringing the state total to 2.On March 12, the Governor’s office reported the first death in the state of Georgia related to the pandemic.On March 15, Atlanta mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, declared a state of emergency in the city, and banned public gatherings of more than 250 people.On March 24, Governor Brian Kemp ordered all bars and clubs to close.
All state lawmakers and their staff members were urged to self-quarantine on March 18 after state Senator Brandon Beach tested positive. Beach had displayed symptoms for nearly a week, and despite knowing his COVID-19 test was pending, he went to work at the state capitol on March 16 when emergency legislation was passed. As of April 21, the state had over 20,000 confirmed cases and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicted on that day that June 19 would be the earliest safe date for Georgia to relax its social distancing measures.Nonetheless, on April 20 Governor Kemp announced that many businesses could reopen on April 24, including “gyms, hair salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors”, with restaurants and movie theaters allowed to reopen on April 27.
Emory University became the first college in the state on March 11 to announce it was closing its campus and moving classes online for the remainder of the semester. The University System of Georgia announced that its 26 public institutions would remain open based on the current advice of the Georgia Department of Public Health.Three hours later the decision was reversed and the University System of Georgia has temporarily suspended instruction for two weeks starting on March 16. On March 14, Gwinnett Technical College decided to close both of its campuses from March 16 through March 22, after announcing on March 13 that from March 23, to resume all currently 100% online courses as usual, and to convert all other courses to online instruction where possible.
During the week of March 16–20, unemployment benefit filings in Georgia increased by 400%.Businesses and workers from all over have been affected.