The blog.

1
May

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for May 1, 2020

The Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia is doing a virtual adoption process with curbside pickup. Email humanesociety@hsscg.org for more information.

Ted Humane Society South Coastal GA

Ted is a young male Hound and Retriever mix puppy who will be available for adoption with a May 6 date to go home, from the Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, GA.

Beary Humane Society South Coastal GA

Beary is a young male Hound and Retriever mix puppy who will be available for adoption with a May 6 date to go home, from the Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, GA.

Fred Humane Society South Coastal GA

Fred is a young male Hound and Retriever mix puppy who will be available for adoption with a May 6 date to go home, from the Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, GA.

1
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 1, 2020

May 3d is National Widow’s Day.

On May 1, 1707, the Act of Union with England, passed by the Scottish Parliament brought together England and Scotland and made the Union Jack the official flag of Great Britain.

1200px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg copy

Georgia delegates convened in Augusta on May 4, 1789 to approve a new state Constitution and consider amendments.

The Second Confederate National Flag was adopted on May 1, 1863.

Flag_of_the_Confederate_States_of_America_(1863-1865)

General Nathan Bedford Forrest led troops who captured raiders near Rome, Georgia who were intent on disrupting the Western & Atlantic Railroad on May 3, 1863.

General William Tecumseh Sherman began the Atlanta Campaign on May 3, 1864 with troops marching from Tennessee toward Catoosa Springs, Georgia.

One year and one day after General Sherman began the Atlanta campaign, on May 4, 1865, Atlanta surrendered. On the same day, the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan River in Virginia and into the Wilderness. The Battle of the Wilderness began on May 5, 1864, between the Army of the Potomac, led by General Ulysses S. Grant, and the Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee.

One year after that, on May 4, 1865, the last meeting of the Confederate cabinet convened in the old Georgia State Bank Building, which was located at the site of the present-day Wilkes County Courthouse in Washington, Georgia.

On May 1, 1886, Jefferson Davis visited the Benjamin Hill monument at Peachtree and West Peachtree Streets in Atlanta, having arrived the previous day. On May 2, 1886, Jefferson Davis left Atlanta, headed to Savannah.

Savannah officials had successfully solicited Davis to attend a variety of special ceremonies and events being planned in Savannah. On the way, the train stopped briefly in Forsyth and Macon, where the ex-Confederate president was greeted by crowds and spoke briefly from the back of his train. Although he didn’t leave the train, Davis would return to Macon the following year for a more formal visit.

Margaret Mitchell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Gone With the Wind on May 3, 1937.

On May 2, 1939, Lou Gehrig benched himself as the Yankees took the field against the Detroit Tigers, ending his streak of 2,130 consecutive games.

On May 4, 1965, the Rolling Stones played a show at Georgia Southern.

The British band played in Hanner Fieldhouse to an overflow crowd of more than 3,500 people, according to a retrospective by Jim Hilliard in the Statesboro Herald. The gym’s capacity was about 1,500.

Hilliard said organizers figured they could sell 1,800 tickets at $2.50 each, which would be enough to pay the band and have some money left over for expenses.

The Stones had played on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Sunday, May 2, and advance ticket sales were brisk the Monday and during lunch Tuesday, the day of the concert.

Hilliard said he signed the contract booking the Stones on behalf of Sigma Epsilon Chi fraternity. The contract called for the new fraternity to pay the band $3,000 for the appearance. Hilliard said he got a $1,500 loan from First Bulloch Bank to make the deal happen.

The Stones were expected to take the stage at 8:30 p.m. and play for at least an hour, but Hilliard had lined up three front bands, and “it proved to be a fatal flaw in plans for the concert,” he said in his retrospective.

The noise was deafening as the original Stones lineup — Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts — hit the stage nearly an hour late.

Jagger and the other band members were “openly hostile” at having to wait so long to play.

On May 4, 1970, National Guard members shot into a crowd of protesting students, killing four and wounding nine others on the campus of Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

On May 1, 1971, “Joy to the World,” by Three Dog Night was the #1 song in the nation.

Kennesaw, Georgia City Council adopted an ordinance on May 1, 1982 requiring each household to own a gun and ammunition.

(a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.

(b) Exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who suffer a physical or mental disability which would prohibit them from using such a firearm. Further exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who are paupers or who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine, or persons convicted of a felony.

The Weather Channel began broadcasting from Cobb County, Georgia on May 2, 1982.

On May 1, 1991, Rickey Henderson broke the major league baseball stolen base record on the same day that Nolan Ryan, the greatest pitcher in the history of baseball, recorded his seventh no-hitter.

The official state tartan of Georgia was designated on May 1, 1997.

On May 4, 2003, I married Mrs. GaPundit. Monday would have been our 17th Anniversary and the 20th Anniversary of our first date. May the Fourth be with you, my love.

United States forces killed Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday, Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order 04.30.20.01, addressing the renewal of the Public Health State of Emergency.

1.) The Public Health State of Emergency due to expire on May 13 is extended 30 days and will now end at 11:59 PM on Friday, June 12, 2020.

2.) Emergency orders regarding nursing homes and long term care facilities (04.08.20.03), Georgia National Guard callup (04.08.20.05), and Section III of the Shelter in Place order, pertaining to higher risk individuals,  (04.23.02.02) are renewed and will now expires at 11:59 PM on Friday, June 12, 2020.

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

With a renewed focus on bolstering Georgia’s economy, eyeing monthly revenue numbers expected to drop significantly due to the coronavirus outbreak, Kemp freed up most of the state’s population to visit reopened businesses.

The Georgia Department of Labor has paid out more unemployment claims during the outbreak than in the past four years combined, officials said Thursday. During the last six weeks, $388 million was distributed to out-of-work Georgians.

Despite the stay-at-home order reaching its end, Kemp “urged” Georgians to stay home “whenever possible” and, according to his staff, recommends people wear masks in public, especially in high traffic areas such as grocery stores.

“I’d like to ask all Georgians to help us double-down on protecting our fellow vulnerable citizens,” Kemp said earlier this week.

Some Athens-Clarke County local electeds are complaining about the end of the statewide shelter-in-place order, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Gwinnett County Public Schools employees will return to their workplace in phases, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The return to work will be phased in, starting with director level employees working at the Instructional Support Center in Suwanee next week and building up to teachers returning to schools in mid-May to wrap up the school year. There will be three phases of employees returning to work, and the plan also gives a glimpse into when students may be able to go back to schools and retrieve whatever belongings they have there.

“With the end of the state’s Shelter in Place order on April 30 and the re-opening of many businesses, school district leaders have created a plan for the return of GCPS employees to schools and facilities,” school system officials said in the plan released Friday.

The director-level employees will return to work on May 6, with all remaining employees who work at the Instructional Support Center along with non-teaching school-based employees heading back to their offices on May 11.

Teachers are scheduled to return to schools on May 18 so they can wrap up the final three days of digital learning, work with students who need to make-up any work, finalize grades, close out their classrooms and assist students in retrieving their belongings.

Absentee voting is set to hit record levels, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Savannah Morning News.

Georgia election officials have sent out around 700,000 absentee ballots so far for the upcoming June 9 primary election amid ongoing concerns over coronavirus.

The ballots stemmed from more than 1 million requests from voters to date to receive absentee ballots, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said at a news conference Thursday. His office expects to field even more absentee-ballot requests in the coming weeks.

“We don’t know what it will be,” Raffensperger said. “But we don’t think we’re done yet with 39 days left to go.”

Absentee voting for the primary is poised to greatly outpace prior big-ticket elections in Georgia. For instance, voters cast roughly 223,000 absentee ballots in the high-turnout 2018 gubernatorial election, while about 207,000 absentee ballots were cast in Georgia in the 2016 presidential election.

A Savannah City Council meeting went off the rails, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Alderwoman Kesha Gibson-Carter made accusations of a power grab, voter suppression, white privilege, and likened herself to an abuse victim during the contentious discussion.

Gibson-Carter made her comments during a rules of council discussion. One item in particular took up most of the workshop. The proposed rules requires council members to submit a proposed agenda item to the mayor in writing, including by email, and to copy the city manager and city attorney one week prior to the scheduled meeting.

Gibson-Carter took her allegations even further when she accused city staff of treating her like an abuse victim.

“You drag us and beat us down and then we (are expected) to put on the makeup and cover the bruises,” Gibson-Carter said.

Chatham County Commission candidates met in an online forum, according to the Savannah Morning News.

State agencies are being asked to trim nearly $4 billion dollars from budget requests, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via The Brunswick News.

State agencies were already facing budget cuts of 6% ordered by Kemp for the upcoming 2021 fiscal year, which starts July 1. Lawmakers also have largely approved 4% cuts to the state’s revised 2020 fiscal year budget that Kemp requested.

Negotiations between lawmakers over those cuts dominated the 2020 legislative session before it was suspended in mid-March. Facing the 6% cuts, agencies managed to trim costs largely by leaving vacant staff positions unfilled, upgrading technology and scaling back work-related travel.

Now, facing coronavirus-prompted cuts of more than twice that amount, agencies will almost certainly experience more painful impacts that could result in scaled-back services and layoffs.

The upcoming cuts would also include public schools and Medicaid spending, which were excluded from the most recent round of 6% cuts ordered by the governor.

From the Associated Press via the Gainesville Times:

Forecasting a major blow to the state’s economy and revenue collections due to the coronavirus pandemic, Georgia lawmakers in charge of the state budget sent a memo on Friday asking agencies to prepare for cuts of 14% across the board, totaling nearly $4 billion.

The memo was sent by state House Appropriations Chair Terry England, Senate House Appropriations Chair Blake Tillery and Kelly Farr, director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. It made clear that no areas would be spared, including funding for education and public health.

“While the Great Recession of 2008 was considered then to be a ‘once in a lifetime’ event, our current situation will certainly overshadow it,” the memo says. “That is why this request is being made to ALL areas of the state budget with no exceptions.”

Kemp earlier this year had set a $28 billion revenue estimate for fiscal year 2021, which begins July 1. But that was before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered business across the country and left more than a million Georgians out of work. And a good part of the $2.8 billion in reserves that the state started the year with may be needed to plug holes in the current year’s budget.

United States Senator David Perdue will introduce federal legislation to address shortages of healthcare professionals, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via The Brunswick News.

Sen. Perdue was joined by Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Atlanta) and Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) in requesting that the Air Force consider basing a new fleet of C-130J aircraft in Savannah, according to The Brunswick News.

Brunswick Golden Isles Airport will receive an additional $1 million grant from the FAA, according to The Brunswick News.

Fifty-four Georgia counties fall under a burn ban beginning today, according to AccessWDUN.

Rome has seen higher sales tax revenues in April, according to the Rome News Tribune.

“It was a little bit of a surprise,” City Manager Sammy Rich said. “We can only assume that maybe some of the pre-COVID panic buying that was going on resulted in the jump in sales tax.”

30
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 30, 2020

Grayson Dogs Rock Inc

Grayson is one of three young Pit Bull Terrier puppies who are available for adoption individually from Dogs Rock Inc. in Franklin, GA.

Pepper Dogs Rock Inc

Pepper is a young male Chihuahua mix puppy who is available for adoption individually from Dogs Rock Inc. in Franklin, GA. Sister Piper is also available for adoption.

Kara Dogs Rock Inc

Kara is a young female Labrador Retriever and Pointer mix who is available for adoption individually from Dogs Rock Inc. in Franklin, GA.

30
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 30, 2020

George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States of America in New York City on April 30, 1789. From Washington’s inaugural address:

it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge.

In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either.

No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.

On April 30, 1803, negotiators from France and the United States finished discussions of the Louisiana Purchase, which would double the size of the country.

By the middle of the 18th century, France controlled more of the modern United States than any other European power: from New Orleans northeast to the Great Lakes and northwest to modern-day Montana. In 1762, during the French and Indian War, France ceded its America territory west of the Mississippi River to Spain and in 1763 transferred nearly all of its remaining North American holdings to Great Britain. Spain, no longer a dominant European power, did little to develop Louisiana Territory during the next three decades. In 1796, Spain allied itself with France, leading Britain to use its powerful navy to cut off Spain from America.In 1801, Spain signed a secret treaty with France to return Louisiana Territory to France.

Reports of the retrocession caused considerable uneasiness in the United States. Since the late 1780s, Americans had been moving westward into the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys, and these settlers were highly dependent on free access to the Mississippi River and the strategic port of New Orleans. U.S. officials feared that France, resurgent under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, would soon seek to dominate the Mississippi River and access to the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. envoys agreed to pay $11,250,000 and assumed claims of its citizens against France in the amount of $3,750,000. In exchange, the United States acquired the vast domain of Louisiana Territory, some 828,000 square miles of land. In October, Congress ratified the purchase, and in December 1803 France formally transferred authority over the region to the United States. The acquisition of the Louisiana Territory for the bargain price of less than three cents an acre was Thomas Jefferson’s most notable achievement as president.

On April 30, 1886, former Confederate President Jefferson Davis arrived in LaGrange, Georgia for the unveiling of a monument to Benjamin Hill.

The Augusta Library system is collecting stories of the COVID 19 outbreak, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The project, called Augusta-Richmond County Public Library Pandemic Project, will help to tell the story to future generations, students and scholars of what occurred during the coronavirus similar to how people have learned about experiences from the Spanish flu. Floyd said eventually the fervor and stories of the coronavirus will die down so the stories need to be gathered now.

The library is asking for written documentation, personal stories, photos, audio recordings and video clips to be submitted through the library’s genealogy blog with online forms. The library is accepting submissions from everyone but is particularly interested in first responders, medical professionals, hospitality workers, small business owners, military members, teachers and students. Monaco said there is no story, no event too mundane for submission.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

More than one million absentee ballot requests have been made by Georgia voters, according to the AJC.

The number of Georgia voters requesting absentee ballots crossed 1 million Thursday, a tremendous increase in people voting from home amid challenges to make polling places safe.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said voters responded to his initiative to increase absentee voting for the June 9 primary. He mailed absentee ballot request forms to Georgia’s 6.9 million active voters, encouraging them to avoid voting in person at precincts during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We can now see that effort is exceeding far past our own aspirations,” Raffensperger said during a press conference outside the state Capitol. “Today we are passing the 1 million mark in absentee ballot requests. That is unprecedented.”

The number of absentee ballots requested could exceed 1.5 million or even 2 million, he said. Most voters are expected to vote by mail after about 5% of voters did so in most prior elections, Raffensperger said. Georgia has allowed anyone to cast an absentee ballot without having to provide an excuse since 2005.

Governor Brian Kemp‘s Shelter-in-Place order expires at midnight tonight, unless it is renewed or replaced. From WRDW:

Georgia’s shelter-in-place order will expire Thursday at 11:59 p.m., but many are wondering what’s next for the state.

Kemp has not said in recent news conferences whether or not if he’d extend the order again. Instead, he’s made a point to say the shelter-in-place would be expiring on April 30.

In Augusta, Mayor Hardie Davis has pushed city residents to continue social distancing efforts in hopes of continuing to stymie the spread of COVID-19.

From the AJC:

“We will announce more tomorrow,” Candice Broce, the governor’s spokeswoman, said in an email Wednesday. She declined to comment further.

Kemp has strongly hinted — most recently, during a news conference on Monday — that he would lift the shelter-at-home order for all but elderly and sick Georgians. He has spoken forcefully about the economic harm caused by the quarantine, particularly the damage done to countless small businesses.

In a study of Georgia coronavirus cases that was released Wednesday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the virus appears to be more dangerous than previously thought for relatively young and healthy people.

The findings, the CDC said, show the need for continued social-distancing measures — “not only to protect older adults and those with underlying medical conditions but also … persons in the general population who might not consider themselves to be a risk for severe illness.”

Nevertheless, Kemp and his aides have said state data shows the virus’ spread is declining or hitting a plateau. Other experts have questioned their interpretations.

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Athens Banner Herald.

Kemp is weighing whether and how to relax mandatory social restrictions in place since April 3 that have required people to remain at home except for essential errands like grocery runs and to exercise, and for most businesses to limit their operations only to levels that will keep them financially afloat.

The order has already been extended once since it was first issued on April 3. It is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

At a news conference Monday, the governor said the state largely has been following federal guidelines for deciding when to let businesses reopen, while also weighing input from local health officials as well as the dire financial situation facing many business owners who have been shuttered for weeks.

“We are looking at depression-like unemployment,” Kemp said. “It has all tumbled off a cliff like it has in every state. But we will come back, and we will come back even stronger.”

Governor Kemp suspended the requirement for road testing to get a Georgia driver’s license, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced in his most recent executive order that — provided they meet all other requirements — those holding instructional permits can qualify for their licenses without the “comprehensive on-the-road driving test.”

That means teens can get their license when they turn 16 without getting in a car with a test administrator.

The change is in effect until the expiration of the state’s Public Health State of Emergency, which Kemp has extended to May 13.

Georgia State House Speaker David Ralston will allow House committees to begin in-person meetings, according to the AJC.

While Georgia legislative leadership continues to negotiate the date lawmakers will return the Capitol, House Speaker David Ralston told his chamber’s members that panels could begin discussing bills in mid-May.

It is not yet clear when lawmakers will come back to Atlanta to complete the legislative session. Ralston is taking steps to resume work June 11, while Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Senate leaders are pushing for a May 14 return. Ralston and Duncan must agree before session can resume.

“We plan to permit the resumption of in-person committee meetings at the Capitol on Tuesday, May 19,” Ralston said in a letter to chamber members sent Thursday. “Those meetings will be subject to the provisions of any applicable public health directives.”

Committees can only hear testimony and discuss legislation. Ralston said they can not take any action on proposed bills until the session resumes. Under the plan outlined in Ralston’s letter, House staff members would return to the Capitol May 18.

Hundreds of workers in Georgia’s poultry industry have been sickened by COVID19, according to the AJC.

Nearly 400 workers in Georgia’s prized poultry industry have tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus, and one has died from his illness, according to Georgia Department of Public Health statistics obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The 388 workers who have been sickened by COVID-19 represent about 2% of the estimated 16,500 people employed at 14 chicken processing plants across the state.

“The biggest challenge for these employees is the community widespread transmission in the areas where they live, the lack of education about COVID-19, and reluctance to change behaviors,” said Georgia Public Health spokeswoman Nancy Nydam, adding that her agency has received many anecdotal reports of people attending large social gatherings, house parties and religious services.

“Also, most live in multi-generational homes with large numbers of family members (12-14 persons),” she said. “They have no place to self-isolate if they are sick with COVID-19 and the whole family ends up getting sick.”

From AccessWDUN:

As poultry processing plants ramp up safety initiatives to fight the coronavirus, employees at those facilities should be able to take home best practices learned on the job to help prevent the virus’s spread at home.

That’s the opinion of Georgia Insurance Commissioner John King, who has been asked by Gov. Brian Kemp to lead an initiative to help educate members of the Hispanic community about how to protect themselves from COVID-19. About half the confirmed cases in Hall County are Hispanic residents.

King and Gary Black, the state’s agriculture commissioner, toured a Hall County poultry plant Monday and talked with officials and workers about the pandemic.

“How do we provide accurate information not only to the community but then taking those lessons learned and what they are doing at work and how do we carry that to their homes, to their churches, to their family gatherings,” King said during an appearance Wednesday on WDUN’s “Morning Talk with Martha Zoller.

King offered praise for the plant he toured, saying it put safety procedures in place that “went above and beyond” those issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He said the company enacted the procedures after conversations between management and employees. He did not name the company who owned the plant.

Savannah-Chatham County public schools are seeking donations to help equip students, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Since switching to distance learning in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the district has been working to give students at-home access to devices.

In March, SCCPSS surveyed schools and families about their technology devices and connectivity and acted accordingly. “At the start of [distance learning], we did survey students about connectivity, access to a device and other technology questions,” wrote Stacy Jennings, director of communications for the district, in an April 23 email.

“In a strategic move to ensure technology barriers were addressed, the district pulled devices from schools at the end of March for distribution to students,” according to an April 20 press release from the district.

More are still needed. “We’ve distributed approximately 3,000 devices,” Jennings continued in her email. “But we need around 3,500 more.” Several local corporate sponsors have stepped up recently to donate funds and/or Chromebooks for students. International Paper, Gulfstream, Choate Construction, and Hussey Gay Bell are just some of the district’s most recent benefactors. As of Wednesday, April 29, $80,600 has been donated, according to the district website.

Mayor Hardie Davis and SBA Regional Director Ashley Bell will host a webinar on COVID 19 effects on small businesses, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Davis and Ashley Bell, SBA Regional administrator and entrepreneurship policy advisor for the White House opportunity and revitalization council, will host the webinar at 3 p.m. According to a release, the meeting will include COVID-19 response and recovery updates from the federal and local level, including updates about the Paycheck Protection Program.

“This webinar will provide helpful information about how to access federal and local resources for small businesses,” Davis said in a release. “Coronavirus has impacted businesses and families and it is important to connect our business community with resources to help them weather the storm.”

Panelist will include South State Bank Regional President Jay Forrester, Augusta University Dean of the James M. Hull College of Buisness and Professor of Management Richard Franza and Augusta Meto Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Sue Parr. During the webinar, panelist will share information about how to work with banks to withstand economic hardship, how to navigate local business networks and resources and what to expect from the economy, according to a release.

Viewers will be able to ask questions, if time permits. The webinar can be accessed at https://zoom.us/j/99469263074.

Columbia County schools are scheduling fall around the golf tournament, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

With the 2020 Masters rescheduled for Nov. 9-15, the board approved beginning the school year three days early for a new start date of Aug. 3 and students will no longer have Oct. 12 as a school holiday to allow students and teachers to be off during the week of the tournament. Nov. 11 was already a scheduled holiday for Veterans Day.

If the tournament is not open to the public or is canceled, October 12 will be restored to a holiday, the week of November 9–13 will be a regular school week and the school year will end three days earlier than scheduled.

Statesboro City Council is considering changes to their alcohol ordinance, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Statesboro’s council members and mayor are considering changes to the city’s Alcohol Ordinance to allow open alcoholic beverages to be carried outside by pedestrians in the downtown area and to allow public officials – potentially including themselves – to hold beverage licenses.

City Attorney Cain Smith noted that Georgia’s only statewide “open container” law is the one that prohibits open alcoholic beverage containers inside vehicles.

“There is no other state law regarding open containers,” he said. “That’s why you see these open-container exemptions in other jurisdictions. That’s why you’re allowed to walk along River Street with a beer in a plastic cup, because that’s governed by Savannah law and they’ve made the decision to do exemptions, with those restrictions, in that area.”

Franklin City Council member Clifford Henry Jiles was charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly swapping stickers on meat at the Piggly Wiggly, according to the AJC.

Jiles, 54, allegedly swapped the price tag on the beef tenderloin with the tag on a less expensive pork tenderloin. The beef cut was priced at $83.24, while the pork retailed for $12.16, Miles confirmed. Franklin police were notified Monday after a customer noticed the price tag that had been left on the pork tenderloin.

The case was turned over to the GBI because it involved an elected official.

Jiles was charged with theft by deception and theft by shoplifting.

29
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 29, 2020

Goofy Dawson County Humane Society

Goofy is an adult male Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Dawson County Humane Society in Dawsonville, GA.

Goofy lives up to his name as he is one of the silliest dogs we have! While big and intimidating, his puppy eyes reflect his true, sweet nature. He enjoys going for walks at the park and loves to get his back scratched all day long. While he does well with his caregivers, Goofy can be a little defensive with strangers, especially children, and other animals so a meet n greet is a must with him. Come stop by and see if this big hunk of love is the perfect fit for you!

Rowdy Dawson County Humane Society

Rowdy is an adult male Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Dawson County Humane Society in Dawsonville, GA.

Don’t let his name fool you; Rowdy is very calm and friendly. This Coonhound sweetie will warm your heart with his floppy ears and slobbery kisses. He loves attention, playing outside, and children. Rowdy is a playful guy who may need some basic training, but he walks fairly well on a leash. If you are looking for a big lovable dog, this could be your guy.

Gila Monster Dawson County Humane Society

Gila Monster is an adult male Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Dawson County Humane Society in Dawsonville, GA.

Gila is a very sweet and affectionate Hound mix looking for his new fur ever home. He seems to do well on a leash but, he does better with a harness on. Gila is treat motivated and already has learned how to sit on command! Gila does do well with other dogs and enjoys running around and exploring everything with his new friends. He seems to be interested in cats, but we don’t know how he will do with them in a home setting. Gila has not been around children yet, so we are not sure how he will be with them. However, we could help with introducing him if you do have any children in the home.

***Please know this animal is in a foster program and will need to have a scheduled appointment***

29
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 29, 2020

Franklin Delano Roosevelt made his fourth trip to Georgia on April 29, 1926, closing on the purchase of property at Warm Springs, Ga.

Dachau concentration camp was liberated by American troops on April 29, 1945. At least 31,951 inmates died there, more than 30,000 survivors were found on liberation day, and more than 250,000 passed through the camp and its subcamps.

Dobbins Air Force Base was dedicated on April 29, 1950, named for in honor of the late Capt. Charles M. Dobbins and in memory of the other servicemen from Cobb County. Dobbins was shot down over Sicily in 1943 and his family attended the opening of the base.

Hank Aaron hit his first home run in Atlanta against the Houston Astros on April 29, 1966, providing the winning margin as the Braves won 4-3.

Atlanta was selected as the host city for the 1996 Summer Olympics on April 29, 1988.

On April 29, 1993, Barry White guest-starred on The Simpsons. I guess that makes today “Whacking Day.”

One year ago, the Georgia Department of Public Health was recommending measles vaccinations. Seems almost quaint now. From the Newnan Times-Herald:

Three Georgians were diagnosed with the illness in January, bringing the total number of cases statewide to six.

Although the risk of becoming sick is low, the DPH is notifying people who may have been exposed to the virus and may be at increased risk for developing measles.

Measles is a highly contagious, serious respiratory disease. Health officials say it is particularly dangerous for infants who cannot be immunized until they are at least 12 months old and young children who have only received one dose of measles vaccine.

Nationwide, nearly 700 cases have been confirmed in 22 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC issued a report Wednesday calling the outbreak the worst since 2000, when the illness was considered eliminated in the U.S.

“The longer these outbreaks continue, the greater the chance measles will again get a sustained foothold in the United States,” the CDC said.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Some absentee ballots for Hall County voters were sent out with incorrect elections, according to the Gainesville Times.

Some Hall County voters have received absentee ballots with an incorrect congressional district listed, although those ballots can still be used to vote in the June election.

Some ballots include a heading for Georgia’s 1st Congressional District. Hall County is in the 9th Congressional District. The ballots list the candidates running for the 9th District U.S. House of Representatives seat, and according to county and state officials, voters can still choose their preferred candidate for the 9th District despite the incorrect heading.

“The Hall County Elections Office is working with the state to reissue the ballots affected if requested by the voter,” county spokeswoman Katie Crumley said in an email. “The error will not impact ballot tabulation in any way. If an impacted voter would like a new ballot, he or she may call the Secretary of State’s Office or the Hall County Elections Office, and we will assist them in getting a new ballot issued by the state.”

Incorrect instructions on absentee ballots may also be fixed by the Secretary of State’s office, according to the AJC.

Georgia election officials said Tuesday they will correct absentee ballot instructions that erroneously told voters to insert ballots into envelopes that no longer exist.

Instructions mailed with future absentee ballots will tell voters that ballots should be placed inside a folded piece of paper labeled “Official absentee ballot,” which replaced an inner envelope that secured ballots in previous elections.

The inner envelope protected the secrecy of ballots so they couldn’t be matched with voters’ information printed on the outer envelope. Without the inner envelope in Georgia’s June 9 primary, a county election worker could see how someone voted after opening the outer envelope.

“Voters are going to be confused,” said Margaret Arnett, a DeKalb County voter and member of Indivisible Georgia Coalition, a left-leaning group. “There’s an awful lot of people who have never done vote-by-mail before, and this is their first exposure to it. It’s kind of like getting a desk from Ikea and the instruction sheet isn’t right.”

State law requires an inner envelope for absentee ballots. Sterling said the folded paper meets the intent of the law, which he said is to protect secret ballots if someone were to hold an absentee ballot envelope to a light and try to detect how they voted.

Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams, criticized the secretary of state’s office for the incorrect instructions.

“This was a careless mistake that will confuse voters and inundate already overwhelmed county boards with phone calls,” said Seth Bringman, spokesman for Fair Fight Action. “Despite the secretary of state’s incompetence, we encourage voters to cast their vote by mail so that voting in-person is safe for those who need it.”

Governor Brian Kemp announced that Tuesday, April 28, 2020 was the highest number of COVID-19 tests performed in a single day in Georgia, according to a press release.

Today nearly 13,000 new tests were reported to the Georgia Department of Public Health’s website, recording the largest single day in new tests reported since the coronavirus pandemic began. View the report here.

“Two weeks ago, I told Georgians we were not testing enough in our state and that we would make every effort to boost testing capacity,” said Governor Kemp. “It is clear we are making significant progress. We have dramatically increased the number of testing sites with forty-nine now available across the state in partnership with our university system, the private sector, local public health officials, and nine additional Georgia Guard testing sites. We are pushing our testing capacity to the max. Yesterday I asked all Georgians who are experiencing symptoms to schedule an appointment to get tested. We have the sites, the physicians, and the tests. We just need more Georgians to participate.”

To get a free screening, Georgians with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 can download the Augusta University ExpressCare app at augustahealth.org, or call (706) 721-1852. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list the following symptoms for COVID-19:

Cough
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Fever
Chills
Repeated shaking with chills
Muscle pain
Headache
Sore throat
New loss of taste or smell

Asymptomatic Georgians who are medical workers, first responders, law enforcement, or residents or staff of a long-term care facility can call their local health department to schedule a free COVID-19 test. Find a nearby test site here or see below for a list of Georgia National Guard testing sites.

Clayton State Parking Deck (City of Morrow)
5893 North Lake Drive
Morrow, Georgia 30260
Monday – Sunday (1 pm – 4 pm)

Kennesaw State University Parking Deck
525 Parliament Garden Way NW
Kennesaw, GA 30144
Monday – Sunday (8 am – 12 pm)

Colquitt Regional Medical Center
3131 S Main Street, Moultrie, GA 31768
Monday – Sunday (8 am – 12 pm)

Decatur Armory
3736 Durham Park Road, Decatur, GA
Monday – Sunday (9 am-1 pm)

Albany Civic Center
100 W Oglethorpe Blvd 31701
Monday – Sunday (2 pm – 6 pm)

Greenbriar Mall
2841 Greenbriar Pkwy SW, Atlanta, GA 30331
Monday – Sunday (10 am – 2 pm)

Georgia State University Blue Parking Lot
521 Capitol Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30312
Monday – Sunday (2 pm – 6 pm)

M.E. Lewis Elementary School
11145 GA Hwy 15, Sparta GA 31087
Monday, Wednesday, Friday (2 pm – 3 pm)

Rock Creek Sports Complex
445 Martin Road, Dawsonville, GA
Monday – Sunday (10 am – 2 pm)

A Georgia National Guard unit is helping with the state’s COVID-19 response, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Georgia National Guard’s 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Macon, returned from its most recent overseas deployment in the fall.

Now, more than 1,500 members are battling the new coronavirus on three different fronts, disinfecting nursing homes, staffing COVID-19 test sites and working side-by-side in hospital emergency rooms.

The National Guard formed infection control teams, or ICTs, to enter these facilities and disinfect them. As of Tuesday, the 48th Infantry Brigade has disinfected more than 500 nursing homes; that number doesn’t include nursing homes in metro Atlanta, which are handled by ICTs from a different brigade.

Kemp said the state has enough capacity to test all Georgians with COVID-19 symptoms and even some who don’t have any symptoms. There are 49 testing sites in Georgia, according to Capitol Beat, set up by GPH, the University System of Georgia and private companies, including three mobile sites. The National Guard had opened another nine.

“One thing about the guard, we have a lot of manpower and a lot of state agencies don’t,” [brigade commander Col. Anthony] Fournier said. “We’re setting up sites across the state where people can drive up to the site, and trained professionals will administer the nasopharyngeal test, send that to a lab and get results in 48-72 hours.

“We’re hoping to get a saliva test that’s less invasive, and we’re partnering with Augusta University to do some research on that test; they’re checking the reliability of it. If it’s good, we’re going to be able to increase our testing capacity.”

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson wants a slow re-opening of the coastal city’s economy, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“We are not out of the woods,” Johnson said regarding the COVID-19 virus.

Speaking Tuesday, April 28, at his weekly meeting with local media, via Zoom, Johnson said he saw increased numbers of people outside over the weekend.

Many of those spotted were not wearing masks or keeping the recommended six feet of physical distance between others, he said.

“It is not time to become complacent,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he hopes businesses that can open under Kemp’s order take precautions.

“We understand the challenges (businesses are facing),” Johnson said. “Please don’t open unless you are sure you are ready. Have a plan to protect your employees and customers.”

Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz would like to extend shelter-in-place orders beyond the current expiration date for the statewide order, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

[Governor] Kemp could extend his order, extend it with modifications or simply let it expire.

But sheltering in place will continue in Athens-Clarke County if the governor allows it, said Mayor Kelly Girtz.

Girtz and many, if not most, Athens-Clarke commissioners believe the governor is moving too fast as he relaxes restrictions on business operations in an effort to get the state’s stalled economy moving again.

Dr. Lawton Davis, Health Director of the Georgia Coastal Health District, said local shutdown measures helped keep a low case count in Savannah, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“We have I-16 and I-95 coming right through Chatham County, we have an airport, we have a large seaport with the associated rail and trucking operations, we have Tybee Island with the beach. … All those factors would be expected to increase our traffic and increase our potential for new cases to spread among the general population,” Davis said.

“Our elected officials canceled the St. Patrick’s celebration and the Music Festival and multiple other festivals,” Davis continued, while also citing the CHD’s good cooperation with local government, law enforcement, and hospitals as effective for hampering COVID-19 spread locally.

“I have no way to prove that these measures are the reason that we have relatively good-looking numbers in this area, but all of these things are best practices,” Davis said. “One could certainly say these things have had a very beneficial effect. My own opinion is that these measures probably have been very helpful.”

“The majority of our recent cases locally seem to have come from congregate living facilities,” Davis said. “Testing in nursing homes has been ramped up, primarily through cooperation of the National Guard. … They are also providing what we would call a deep cleaning in some of the facilities.”

Valdosta Regional Airport is seeing far fewer flights now because of COVID-19, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Delta Air Lines, the only carrier servicing the airport, reduced its operations to one flight a day each way between Valdosta and Atlanta, according to Delta staff.

The normal flight schedule for Valdosta Regional is three flights each way each day except Saturday, with only two flights that day.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which offers financial aid to struggling airports, requires carriers to maintain routes they were running as of March 1, though they could adjust the number of flights on those routes, he said.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the only destination available from Valdosta, has lost about 94% of its passenger traffic during the pandemic, Galloway said. Valdosta Regional Airport’s numbers should look similar, he said.

Valdosta Regional Airport is suffering its most significant financial distress in terms of car rentals, he said. About 20% of the airport’s internal revenue comes from auto rentals, and with so few passengers, car rentals have dwindled, Galloway said.

Varnell City Council members would like to return to the process of hiring a new police chief, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Brunswick and Glynn County local government offices are expected to reopen to the public on Monday, according to The Brunswick News.

The Harold Pate Building, Public Works administration building, Glynn County Fire Department administration building, Recreation and Parks Department offices and the Glynn County Animal Control shelter will open for normal business hours on Monday, according to county spokesman Matthew Kent.

Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission administration director Jay Sellers also confirmed the agency’s main office will open to the public on the same day.

Social distancing measures ordered by Gov. Brian Kemp will remain in effect due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Residents must keep six feet from others unless related and are encouraged to cover coughs and sneezes, practice good hand hygiene and to isolate from others if feeling sick.

Sales tax revenue cratered for Brunswick during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to The Brunswick News.

There was no way Brunswick Finance Director Kathy Mills could sugarcoat the city’s latest tax revenue report at Tuesday’s finance committee meeting.

Sales tax revenue for March is down $45,000 from a year ago, and down $34,000 from the previous month.

“I don’t think this will be our worst month,” she said.

28
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 28, 2020

McKenzie Humane Society NW Georgia

McKenzie is a young Boxer mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.

Hi! I’m McKenzie, a female seven month old boxer mix with a spunky personality. It’s a big world out there and I’m ready to explore it! I’m a bouncy, playful girl who is always ready to go on a walk or play a game of fetch. Will you throw the ball to me? I’m really good at that! An active family with older children would be perfect for me. I also love to play tag with my doggie pals here at the shelter. So, if you have another dog that would be really nice! If you’re into snuggling, I’d love to sit by you while you watch tv or sleep with you at night. They say I’m a really good kisser, too! So, are you ready for a sweet girl like me? Please go to hsnwga.org and complete an online application so you will be pre-approved. Ask for me, McKenzie!

Ryleigh Humane Society NW Georgia

Ryleigh is a young female Labrador Retriever and Border Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.

Lucky is the family that adopts this gem! Ryleigh is a darling five month old, female Lab/Terrier-Mix with a soft white coat and tan ears. She has an outgoing personality and loves people, dogs and cats. Ryleigh would love to have a fenced in yard where she could play ball or romp with a doggy companion safely. She would do best in an active household with older children. If you are up for adventure and fun, please go to hsnwga.org and complete an online application. Ryleigh is looking forward to meeting you!

Bruno Humane Society of NW Georgia

Bruno is a young male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.

Bruno is a blonde loveable Lab-mix who is very playful and loves everyone. He would make a wonderful companion for a family with older children as his energy may be too much for the little ones. This athletic two year old needs an active household where running, hiking, or outdoor games are a part of the daily routine. The exercise will keep him from boredom which can lead to mischief. Once tired, Bruno is content to nap by your side. He prefers not to be alone. Another doggie pal would ease his anxiety and help keep him entertained at times when you are busy or away.

Bruno loves to wrestle and play tag with his play group buddies at the shelter. A secure fence at least six foot tall will be required to keep him safely inside his own yard. Bruno would benefit from obedience training and would also likely enjoy agility. He already knows some basic commands and is housebroken. If this goofball with a winning smile sounds like your boy, please go to hsnwga.org to complete and online application to be preapproved. Ask for Bruno!

28
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 28, 2020

On April 28, 1776, Colonel Lachlan McIntosh wrote from Savannah to General George Washington.

he concluded his letter with the report that because the South had limited manufacturing capability, the price of needed goods was two or three times higher than in the North, making procurement of clothing and arms for the new recruits difficult.

This last tidbit would prove prescient as lack of manufacturing proved an insuperable problem for the Confederacy. On May 16, 1777, McIntosh dueled against Button Gwinnett, scoring a fatal wound against one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence. McIntosh was acquitted at trial but forced to leave Georgia and eventually served under Washington at Valley Forge.

In 1787, McIntosh was a Commissioner representing Georgia in a series of three boundary disputes with South Carolina, two which were resolved on April 28, 1787 with the Convention of Beaufort.

On April 28, 2014, the earliest ever Primary Elections in Georgia began, as in-person early voting started across the state.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Chatham County voters who received incomplete absentee ballots will receive new ballots, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Voters in Chatham County Districts 4 and 7— whether they’ve already voted or not — should be on the lookout for another corrected ballot in the mail soon.

On Saturday, April 25, the Chatham County Board of Elections was notified that the race for Savannah Chatham County Public School Board’s District 7 seat was missing from the District 7 absentee ballots.

The rest of the races and names were there on the ballot, but not District 7 Incumbent Michael Johnson and Challenger Leonard K. McCoy.

The ballots with the District 7 School Board race were sent to voters in District 4. [Board of Elections Chairman Russell] Bridges said an error in proofreading the ballots led to the error.

“It was an error we did not catch when we proofed the ballots this time around,” Bridges said. “When the ballots went out late last week, somebody discovered it and reported it, and we found out about it Saturday. We’ve already coordinated with the state and had it corrected.”

New ballots will be mailed out to voters who have requested absentee ballots in District 4 and District 7. The new ballots will have a yellow header, and will come with a note from the BOE explaining to voters why they have received a second ballot.

Last week, the incorrect ballots were among the 29,000 absentee ballots sent out in Chatham County.

On Sunday, the ballot printers at the county and state level were given the corrected ballots, and Bridges said the new ballots should be mailed out later this week.

Bridges encouraged voters to cast the new, corrected ballots again.

Governor Brian Kemp held a briefing on the ongoing Covid 19 response yesterday, according to The Brunswick News.

Gov. Brian Kemp said Monday he has not decided what Georgia’s future guidelines will look like when the statewide shelter-in-place order expires Thursday at midnight.

“We’re going to be making some decisions most likely in the next couple of days about what the next week, two weeks or months look like,” Kemp said during a press conference at the state capitol in Atlanta.

The medically fragile are asked to stay home through May 13.

Kemp, along with Kathleen Toomey, Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner, urged Georgians who are experiencing even the mildest symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested. Symptoms, which can appear two to 14 days after exposure, include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chill, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and loss of taste or smell.

The state has increased its capacity for testing, Toomey said, and now is the time to be tested.

“Please go get tested,” she said.

From the Macon Telegraph:

Though he did not cite specific data or numbers to back up his choice, Kemp referred repeatedly to the economic loss the coronavirus pandemic has created, putting “people on the verge of losing everything that they’ve got.” He shared a story about a woman who had reopened her salon to keep from losing her car.

“As the president said and as I know as a small business guy for 30 years, there’s going to be businesses that we saw before this that we won’t see after it,” Kemp said. “And that will take a heavy toll on our local communities as well as our state, and I know that firsthand.”

Kemp thanked the state’s businesses that have decided to reopen, as well as those that have not reopened.

“It was not a mandate, there is a lot of people that have decided to wait and I support that 100%,” he said. “If they can weather the storm, they don’t need to open.”

From the Capitol Beat News Service:

Ahead of an April 30 end to the state’s shelter-in-place order, Gov. Brian Kemp urged Georgians to continue social distancing and to seek testing if they experience common coronavirus symptoms like coughing, fever and shortness of breath.

At a news conference Monday, Kemp did not say whether he will extend the statewide shelter-in-place order beyond Thursday, when it is set to end. The order has already been extended once since it was first issued on April 3.

He noted only that the order is currently scheduled to end after April 30 and that he plans to make a decision later this week on what to do next.

“I just haven’t made those decisions yet,” Kemp said.

As businesses start slowly reopening, Kemp and the state’s public health commissioner, Dr. Kathleen Toomey, stressed that anyone in Georgia who is experiencing common coronavirus symptoms can now receive a diagnostic test. On Monday, Kemp called on those with symptoms to “take us up on this offer.”

“We have the tests, we have the physicians, we have the sites and we have the bandwidth,” Kemp said. “What we need right now is to have more Georgians participate.”

Now, everyone can be tested who shows symptoms including fever, coughing, difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and loss of taste or smell.

“We have plenty of testing capacity,” Toomey said Monday. “And we are ramping up our contact tracing capacity.”

“We are looking at depression-like unemployment,” Kemp said. “It has all tumbled off a cliff like it has in every state. But we will come back, and we will come back even stronger.”

Gov. Kemp noted increasing cases in Hall County, according to the Gainesville Times.

Hall County’s COVID-19 cases continue to rise as statewide leaders see decreases, Gov. Brian Kemp said during a press briefing Monday.

“Over the past few weeks, as other areas of our state have seen reduced transmissions of the virus, the Gainesville area has experienced an increase in cases, and our hospital partners in the area are seeing more hospitalizations,” Kemp said.

The health system also has noted the increasing cases in Hall and a disproportionate number of Latino residents testing positive.

Additional free testing will be offered 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, April 28, to low-income and uninsured Hall County residents who are showing symptoms or have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus.

“I think what we’re seeing in Gainesville. … is we have to get the community to buy into this. That community, they’re very hard-working. I’ve worked with them for almost 40 years,” he said. “They are going to go to work unless they just absolutely can’t, and that is their culture of being very hard-working people.”

To help Hall County handle the increase in cases, the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency is sending a 20-bed unit to Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville. Kemp said the unit will have 10 critical care beds and 10 general hospital beds. It is scheduled to be operational by May 14, Kemp said, a change from the original May 5 opening date.

From AccessWDUN:

Kemp said he and state insurance commissioner John King are working with the Mexican consulate in Atlanta and officials with the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to provide information that will help protect members of that community

Kemp said the insurance commissioner was in Hall County talking to poultry industry executives on Monday to ensure their workers understand public health guidance on how to protect themselves from COVID-19 and what the state is doing to help stop the spread.

Officials with Northeast Georgia Health System said last week that cases of the coronavirus may not peak until early June. The health system also said it may reach its staff capacity by May 4, although discussions are underway with the governor’s office and the Department of Public Health to bring in additional health care workers to assist.

About half of the COVID-19 hospitalizations at its four hospitals are from the Hispanic community, officials said.

Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah is seeking blood donations from people who have recovered from Covid 19, according to the Savanah Morning News.

After selecting seven COVID-19 patients being treated at Memorial who might benefit from plasma transfusions from recuperated donors — whose coronavirus-fighting antibodies could assist those still suffering from the disease — Memorial doctors asked for blood donations from anybody who was officially diagnosed with the illness and has completely recovered.

“We have experience from other diseases that we’ve helped manage by giving people antibodies from other persons, and we call that convalescent plasma therapy,” said Dr. Stephen Thacker, explaining that Memorial is participating in a nationwide Mayo Clinic trial to test the efficacy of this treatment for COVID-19 patients.

At this point, plasma donors for the trial can only be people who have tested positive for COVID-19, then had at least 14 days of recuperation time before testing negative for the illness, according to Thacker. Although asymptomatic coronavirus carriers might also develop therapeutic antibodies, it is currently unfeasible to identify them.

Bruker said eligible plasma donors would have to provide about a half-pint of blood in the same manner as ordinary blood-donation techniques, while noting that convalescent plasma is in high demand nationwide.

Georgia State Senator Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) suggests proceeding with caution, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, is an anesthetist at a local hospital in addition to being a member of the governor’s Coronavirus Task Force. His committee is still meeting regularly and the task force meets about once a week.

Hufstetler said he would have preferred to wait for more data on the spread, but there are multiple factors to weigh.

“We’ve never been here before. My timeline was different from others’ timeline, but who knows who’s right or wrong,” he said. “We are up to about 7,000 tests a day. I would rather have more, but we’ll have to watch it carefully.”

“I think the governor’s making the best decisions he can … (and) I do think he’s got the flexibility to make changes if needed,” Hufstetler said. “This area is in a better position than other parts of state because we’ve been flattening the curve.”

“I think there’s been a lot of behavior changes in this community that we need to keep in place — and in the legislature,” he said. “I think handshaking is a thing of the past.”

Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas is suggesting regional alliances to report on local Covid 19 conditions, according to the Albany Herald.

Cohilas broached the topic during a Monday commission meeting conducted online.

“One of the recommendations I have made to the governor’s office directly — I have requested that the governor form regional task forces,” he said.

The rate of coronavirus cases varies greatly by county, with some southwest Georgia counties leading the state in the number of infections.

“The Dougherty County experience is very different than many other counties in the state,” Cohilis said. “In reality, Georgia is the 21st-largest state in the nation. We are a very diverse population.”

“I am very proud to say the coronavirus task force, city, county, department heads, law enforcement, medical staff from Phoebe and the Marine base have worked over many days to address the influx of the coronavirus within our community,” Cohilas said. “We are definitely flattening the curve.

“It has been very encouraging to see the trend over the last several days (and), more importantly, an overall reduction in the number of folks who have been admitted to Phoebe Putney with COVID-19.”

Athens-Clarke County is being called on to release prisoners from the jail, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Demonstrators staged a new kind of protest in Athens Monday, taking to the streets with social distancing in a kind of car parade to call on Athens-Clarke County officials to release prisoners to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Once at the jail, the protesters parked and got out of their vehicles, most wearing protective face masks and keeping six feet apart. Once outside, they held up their hand-made signs and got out to climb up on two of the vehicles and hold up a large banner with the slogan “Care not Cages.”

The protest comes as the American Civil Liberties Union continues a campaign launched weeks ago to urge governments to release prisoners from jails and prisons, which can become hot spots for COVID-19 outbreaks.

Public health officials have also warned of the potential of uncontrolled spread among incarcerated people.

The United States Supreme Court has held that the State of Georgia cannot hold copyright to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, according to the Daily Report.

The state of Georgia cannot copyright the annotations in its official annotated code, the Supreme Court held Monday in a 5-4 opinion.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court that the so-called government edicts doctrine, which holds that nonbinding, explanatory legal materials created by judges are not copyrightable, also applies to legislative bodies.

“The Court long ago interpreted the word ‘author’ to exclude officials empowered to speak with the force of law, and Congress has carried that meaning forward in multiple iterations of the Copyright Act,” Roberts wrote in Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org.

Roberts ruled that, because the commission is “created by the legislature, for the legislature, and consists largely of legislators,” and the OCGA is “published under authority of the state,” it must be free to all of the public. To rule otherwise would leave citizens, attorneys, nonprofits and private research companies with only “the economy-class version of the Georgia Code available online.”

“The animating principle behind this rule is that no one can own the law,” Roberts wrote.

Dalton City Hall will open again on Friday, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Mayor David Pennington said today the city is waiting on Gov. Brian Kemp’s shelter-in-place order to expire on Thursday before reopening city offices.

Visitors to City Hall will notice some differences. All staff who interact with the public will be wearing masks. And there will be marks in front of windows at the city clerk’s office reminding people to stay 6 feet apart.

Murray County Sole Commissioner Greg Hogan said he will continue with plans to reopen county offices there to the public on May 14.

Gwinnett County Transit drivers will stop working Thursday over Covid 19 concerns, according to the Saporta Report.

Augusta University Health and the Medical College of Georgia are working to perform 1000 Covid 19 tests per day, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

It is part of a larger effort by AU Health System and the Georgia National Guard and public health to coordinate statewide testing and open new sample collection sites in Atlanta and hard-hit Albany and other areas of the state with higher black populations that seem to be especially at risk from COVID-19, said Dr. Phillip Coule, the chief medical officer for AU Health.

“We know that COVID-19 disproportionately affects black and African American communities,” he said. “That’s part of the reason we are targeting those areas is to make sure that we are getting the testing to the area where the current system has not been able to adequately support it.”

Georgia State Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) made the AJC because he decided to reopen his restaurants.

Carpenter is walking a tightrope amid the coronavirus restrictions. He’s a Republican state lawmaker and close ally of Gov. Brian Kemp. He’s also a restaurateur in Dalton whose two downtown eateries were upended by orders to shut down in-person dining at restaurants.

When the governor made the polarizing decision last week to allow restaurants to reopen their dining rooms if they abided by safety precautions, Carpenter didn’t hesitate. He reopened both restaurants Monday with more limited capacity, social distancing and other measures.

“I was ready. I didn’t want to shut down in the first place,” he said, though he was forced to shutter first by local officials and then by Kemp’s April 3 mandate. “People were scared to death and they were doing the best they could, but I pleaded with them not to do it.”

“You can’t let fear drive your decisions,” he said. “I pray at night that we don’t spread the virus, that my employees don’t get it, that my friends don’t get it. But we’ve flattened the curve. At some point people need to see progress.”

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources announced that Loggerhead nesting season has begun, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The first clutch of loggerhead eggs was found Monday morning buried in the sand on a Cumberland Island beach .

The nest, made Saturday night, April 24d, marked Georgia’s 32st year of comprehensive marine turtle nest monitoring and the seventh straight year that Cumberland National Seashore had the first nest.

But Cumberland is only the start. Loggerheads, Georgia’s leading marine turtle and a protected species, nest on all barrier islands in the state. The season will hit full stride by June.

Predicting a nest total is anyone’s guess, according to Dodd, a senior wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. But one question is whether 2020 can top last year’s 3,950 nests, the most since extensive monitoring began in 1989.

27
Apr

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for April 27, 2020

Robin Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Humane Society

Robin is an adult male Boxer mix who is available for adoption from the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Humane Society, dba TLC Humane Society in Dahlonega, GA.

Hi I’m Robin! By day, I am a super sweet dog who loves going out for walks. By night, I am the world’s best sidekick who tricks everyone into giving me treats! I am currently undergoing treatment for heartworm, so I’ve been keeping it low-key the past couple months. If you’re looking for a new best friend, then come by the shelter and meet me! Robin’s adoption fee is $180 which includes his neuter, DAPP vaccines, rabies vaccine, bordetella vaccine, micro-chip, de worming, and kept up to date on flea and heartworm prevention!

Sasha Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Humane Society

Sasha is a young female Labrador Retriever and Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Humane Society, dba TLC Humane Society in Dahlonega, GA.

Anne Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Humane Society
Anne is an adult female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Humane Society, dba TLC Humane Society in Dahlonega, GA.

27
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 27, 2020

German scientist Johannes Kepler dated the creation of the universe to April 27, 4977 BC(E).

On April 27, 1773, the British Parliament enacted the Tea Act, granting a monopoly on selling tea to the American colonies.

Richard B. Russell, Sr. was born on April 27, 1861 near Marietta, Georgia. Russell served in the Georgia House of Representatives, on the Georgia Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and ran for Governor, Congress, and United States Senate. His son, Richard B. Russell, Jr. served in the Georgia State House, including a stint as Speaker, as Governor of Georgia, and in the United States Senate.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Some Chatham County absentee ballots appear to have omitted a school board race, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Voters who applied for absentee ballots for the June 9 primary should look closely at their ballots, which are starting to arrive by mail. The District 7 race for the Savannah-Chatham County School Board is missing.

School board member Michael Johnson notified media outlets Saturday afternoon, April 25, after his wife opened her absentee ballot and noticed the District 7 race was missing. Johnson said in an email Saturday evening that his wife requested an absentee ballot, but he did not.

Johnson is facing Savannah resident Leonard K. McCoy for the seat.

“I feel this is a major issue. I have spoken to someone at the Chatham County Board of Elections as well as the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office,” wrote Johnson in an email sent to media outlets around 4 p.m. Saturday, April 25. “They [the Secretary of State’s Office] say they are working on it; however I am now worried that people have already sent in their ballots, or won’t look closely enough to their ballots and it might be missed. This needs to be put out there so the public knows what is going on.”

The omission appears to be in every precinct of SCCPSS District 7.

“There are seven precincts in the 7th District,” Johnson wrote in a follow-up email around 8 p.m. Saturday. “I have heard from those whom I serve that it is not just my precinct and that it is left off of the Republican and Democrat Party ballots.”

The race is nonpartisan and must be included in every ballot.

Governor Brian Kemp and the usual suspects will hold a 4:30 briefing on the COVID-19 situation.

At the Georgia State Capitol, Governor Kemp, Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Director Homer Bryson, and Georgia National Guard Adjutant General Tom Carden will give a briefing on COVID-19.

WHO: Governor Brian P. Kemp; Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Commissioner, Georgia Department of Public Health; Homer Bryson, Director, Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency; Adjutant General Tom Carden, Georgia National Guard

WHEN:Monday, April 27 at 4:30 PM

WHERE: Liberty Plaza

The briefing will be live streamed at facebook.com/GovKemp or gpb.org/coronavirus.

At 10 AM today, Governor Kemp hosted an online Statewide Day of Prayer at the Capitol, and live broadcast on Facebook.

Governor Kemp announced that Covid 19 testing will be available via mobile lab, according to The Brunswick News.

A mobile COVID-19 testing unit will begin rotating between the Augusta area, Milledgeville and Tifton starting Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Sunday.

““Serving Augusta, Milledgeville, Tifton, and the surrounding regions, this mobile unit will be a game-changing step in our efforts to ensure access to COVID-19 across Georgia,” the governor said. “Increased testing is critical as we continue the measured process of safely reopening parts of our state.”

Chris Clark, President and CEO of the Georgia Chamber makes some points that might seem familiar to GaPundit readers. From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Athens Banner Herald.

The shelter-in-place order Kemp issued early this month allowed all other businesses – including those in the retail sector – to remain open, subject to a lengthy list of restrictions aimed at preserving social distancing. The restrictions include screening employees for illness, disinfecting the premises, requiring employees who come into close contact with customers to wear masks and requiring at least six feet of space between workers and between workers and customers.

Clark suggested allowing the approximately 20,000 businesses throughout the state that were shut down by law [gyms and fitness centers, dine-in services at restaurants, theaters, bowling alleys and the close-contact personal care shops] to reopen is a matter of fairness.

“These are small mom-and-pop [businesses], most of which ran out of capital 14 days ago,” Clark said last week. “Many of them are minority- and immigrant-owned businesses. Most of them are sole proprietors. … They’re really struggling.”

The shelter-in-place order Kemp issued early this month allowed all other businesses – including those in the retail sector – to remain open, subject to a lengthy list of restrictions aimed at preserving social distancing. The restrictions include screening employees for illness, disinfecting the premises, requiring employees who come into close contact with customers to wear masks and requiring at least six feet of space between workers and between workers and customers.

“Businesses have a responsibility if they want to open to follow the guidelines, take the temperatures of their employees, disinfect and provide masks,” he said. “The governor’s not forcing any business to open that doesn’t want to.”

Bibb County Sheriff David Davis expressed concerns about business reopenings, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said he was concerned that Georgia is reopening too quickly.

“I guess he has his experts that he consults,” Davis told The Telegraph in a telephone interview, “and that’s his judgment. But just being out here on the street seeing it every day, I think we might have been better served to have waited just a little bit longer.

“I hate to think that Georgia is part of a grand experiment to see how reopening things will affect the virus. You might say we’re the guinea pigs. It’s sad that we’re getting so many conflicting notices and conflicting statements from the so-called experts.”

“If we get calls on it, we will go and try to educate people as best we can,” Davis said. “But we just certainly are not gonna be the barber shop police. You just can’t do it. There’s too many of them. … We will deal with the more egregious (violations).”

The sheriff’s statement added that “in the event of complaints, sheriff’s deputies will be making every effort to make contact with gatherings in excess of 10 people, where 6 feet of separation has not occurred. In such instances, deputies will be taking responsible steps to provide notice and educate individuals prior to taking any further law enforcement actions.”

Watkinsville Mayor Bob Smith, a former State Representative, seems less concerned about reopening. From the Athens Banner Herald:

Mayor Bob Smith encouraged Watkinsville residents to, “emerge from our homes and utilize smart, common-sense safe distance practices and resume our lives,” in a press release posted to social media Sunday.

Smith’s call to, “get outdoors and exercise… go to work… assemble to worship,” aligns with Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to re-open certain Georgia businesses on April 24, a decision President Donald Trump publicly disagreed with.

In Smith’s press release, he says, “…life is a gift. Let’s not waste it continuing to sit at home, looking at four walls.”

Among historical events listed in Smith’s press release, Smith cited, “brave Americans … on Flight 91 over Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001…”

The correct identification is United Airlines Flight 93. All 37 passengers, including four hijackers, and seven crew members died when the plane crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, during an attempt by the passengers and crew to regain control of the airplane.

Former Governor Nathan Deal has endorsed Renee Unterman in the Republican Primary for 7th Congressional District, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Former Gov. Nathan Deal endorsed state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, in the highly contested race to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall. Unterman is one of several Republicans running for the seat, which has also drawn several Democrats vying to win the seat.

“Renee Unterman has proven herself to be a passionate, courageous conservative fighter and I’m proud to endorse her campaign for Congress,” Deal said. “The people of Georgia deserve tough and thoughtful representatives, and I am confident Renee will deliver results for her constituents because, believe me, she never stops working.”

“As our state works to provide every Georgian with a bright future, I believe Renee is the candidate who will always do what’s right and get the job done.”

“I’m honored and humbled to be endorsed by former Gov. Nathan Deal in my campaign to take our shared conservative values to Washington,” Unterman said. “During his time as governor, his conservative leadership helped our communities emerge from the Great Recession and flourish.

Gwinnett County Commission candidates discussed budget issues in an online forum, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

If Gwinnett County’s budget revenues take a hit in 2021 because of lingering effects from the COVID-19 coronavirus disease pandemic, candidates vying to be the county’s next commission chairman offered a variety of solutions this past week.

The candidates talked during a forum hosted by five community improvement districts on Wednesday about issues that are of interest to the CIDs, such as plans for the OFS site and Gwinnett Place Mall, as well as plans for addressing transit and transportation in general.

But, it was hard to ignore the looming COVID-19 issue outright, given that it forced the forum itself to be conducted online. One of the questions posed to candidates was how they would handle a 15% to 20% decrease in revenues in 2021 as chairman.

Several candidates outlined steps ranging from prioritizing services and making cuts to looking at raising the county government’s portion of the millage rate, which determines how much property owners pay in property taxes.

“The first thing I would do, straight out of the gate, is make a statement that public safety would not, in any way, be impacted by this,” [Gwinnett County Commission Chair Candidates Marica] Neaton said. “We’ve got to protect our first responders. They are outstanding in what they do and we cannot impede them in any way.”

The University of North Georgia will use some federal Covid stimulus money for student aid, according to the Gainesville Times.

The University of North Georgia will use $6.8 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to help students struggling financially, according to an April 24 email announcement.

UNG students who have been enrolled at the school as of April 20, have completed a FAFSA for the 2019-2020 school year, were enrolled in at least one face-to-face class as of March 13 and who are eligible for Title IV financial aid can receive a grant between $100 and $500. Amounts will vary by student need “as defined by the U.S. Department of Education and the number of credit hours enrolled,” according to the UNG website. Funds will be disbursed automatically to students starting on April 28.

Students facing “specific hardships” can also apply for an additional $700 through the UNG CARES Emergency Grant. Funds disbursed from this grant can be used on COVID-19 related expenses such as housing, utilities and food.

UNG will also offer similar grants to students enrolled in summer semester classes.

Valdosta City Council appears to have scheduled a public meeting, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Valdosta City Council meeting, canceled Thursday, April 23, has been rescheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 28, at City Hall, 216 E. Central Ave., council chambers, second floor.

In an effort to meet social distancing requirements, any residents wishing to address the mayor and council can submit questions and/or comments to Teresa S. Bolden, city clerk, via e-mail – tbolden@valdostacity.com, prior to 5 p.m. Monday, April 27.

If that meeting were of particular interest to me, I’d keep an eye on both the Valdosta Daily Times, as well as the City Council website for updates or changing procedures.