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How the pandemic unfolded

A look back at the key events in the first few weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak

Kemp Arrives

Gov. Brian P. Kemp enters a news conference at the state Capitol on Thursday afternoon, March 12, 2020, to announce the state’s first death from the COVID-19 outbreak and to announce support for schools that choose to close.

Here’s a day-by-day look back at how the pandemic unfolded in Walton County.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

  • Gov. Brian Kemp said one person with COVID-19 was being housed in temporary quarters at Hard Labor Creek State Park in Morgan County.
  • Georgia has 12 cases of COVID-19 with 19 more people presumed to have it. Two of the presumed positive cases are in Gwinnett County.
  • The NCAA says it won’t have fans in the stands for its postseason basketball tournaments. (They're later canceled, including the Final Four in Atlanta.)
  • Kemp says he’ll ask for $100 million out of the state’s reserves to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

  • A 67-year-old man in a Marietta hospital is the first Georgia resident to die from the outbreak.
  • The Walton County School District announces it will close, starting Monday, March 16, for up to two weeks.
  • Officials at Piedmont Walton Hospital say they have had no positive cases of COVID-19, contrary to rumors.
  • The North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church encourages local congregations not to have worship services or other mass gatherings for the next two weeks.
  • Local assisted living and senior care facilities begin to change their visitation policies.
  • The 26 member institutions of the University System of Georgia announce they will “temporarily suspend instruction” for two weeks.
  • Athens Technical College says it will extend spring break, then expand online learning.
  • County recreation centers close for two weeks.
  • The Southeastern Conference cancels the remainder of the men’s basketball tournament in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Major League Soccer — including Atlanta United FC — suspends its season 30 days.
  • The Georgia High School Association says it has no intention of canceling sporting events, but later says it would recommend member schools suspend spring sports.

Friday, March 13, 2020

  • NASCAR announces it will postpone its weekend race at Atlanta and the next week’s race in Florida.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

  • Georgia goes under a public health emergency for the first time.
  • Laws against price gouging go into effect in Georgia.
  • Gov. Brian Kemp activates the Georgia National Guard, calling up as many as 2,000 troops to address the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The Memories in Monroe car show goes on as scheduled, bringing crowds downtown.
  • A state lawmaker says the coronavirus outbreak has reached Athens. The number of cases in the state topped 60 by noon.
  • Publix and Walmart announce they’ll cut hours to allow for cleaning and restocking.
  • The Georgia secretary of state postpones the presidential preference primary, schedule for March 24, to May 19.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

  • Piedmont Healthcare limits visitors in its hospitals.
  • An employee of the Newton County Theme School in Covington tests positive for COVID-19.

Monday, March 16, 2020

  • As of noon Monday, there are 121 cases of COVID-19 in Georgia but none in Walton County.
  • Chick-fil-A closes dining rooms.
  • The Georgia General Assembly meets in a special session to consider emergency powers for the governor in the pandemic.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

  • Chief Judge John M. Ott says the Walton County Superior Court will remain open for limited “essential functions.”
  • An employee at Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas, the largest private employer in Monroe, tests positive for COVID-19. He is a resident of a neighboring county.
  • Local schools will be out through the end of the month.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

  • FISH announces it will partner with the Walton County and Social Circle school districts, starting the following week, to help feed local children.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

  • Gov. Brian Kemp says he has no plans to require a statewide quarantine. Ten people in the state had died. Kemp says the elderly, ill, health care workers and first responders should be the first in line to get the scarce COVID-19 tests.

Friday, March 20, 2020

  • Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas suspends production for four days.
  • Walton County officials say they’ll close public offices to foot traffic.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

  • Georgia is up to 600 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 23 deaths, as of noon, but with none in Walton County.

Monday, March 23, 2020

  • Gov. Brian Kemp closes all bars and nightclubs and bans public gatherings of more than 10 people, unless they can be separated by 6 feet or more. He requires isolation, quarantine or shelter-in-place policies for people with sensitive health issues, who have tested positive for COVID-19, or who have been exposed to it.
  • Kemp encourages health care providers to cancel elective procedures.
  • The Social Circle City Council unanimously votes to declare a state of emergency in the city.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

  • Walton County has its first confirmed case of COVID-19 in a resident. By this point, Georgia has 1,026 cases and 32 deaths. Piedmont Walton officials say the person diagnosed locally is not a patient at the Monroe hospital.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

  • The state removes the confirmed case of COVID-19 from Walton County’s tally, leaving the county with no confirmed cases.
  • Newton County Probate Judge Melanie Bell confirms she has tested positive for COVID-19.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

  • Gov. Brian Kemp declares public K-12 schools will remain closed through April 24.
  • The Monroe City Council holds an emergency meeting to discuss COVID-19 measures. A split council votes against a curfew but voted to restrict public gatherings.
  • The Walton County Board of Commissioners has an emergency meeting to discuss the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The U.S. Senate votes 96-0 to approve an economic stimulus and rescue package.

Friday, March 27, 2020

  • President Donald Trump signs a $2 trillion stimulus package.
  • The city of Monroe announces businesses will be eligible for one-time grants of up to $2,500 to help offset losses from the pandemic.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

  • There are two confirmed cases in Walton County residents as of noon Saturday, with 2,366 cases statewide.
  • Mayor John Howard says he’s preparing to sign an order banning gatherings of 10 or more people in Monroe, after police broke up a gathering of dozens of people overnight.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

  • Four Walton County residents are confirmed to have COVID-19 as of noon Sunday. By now Georgia has 2,651 confirmed cases.

Monday, March 30, 2020

  • Loganville Mayor Rey Martinez signs the first shelter-in-place order for Walton County.
  • Dozens of people gather outside Piedmont Walton Hospital to honk their horns, flash their lights and wave signs in support of health care workers.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

  • Gov. Brian Kemp sends more than 100 National Guard troops to oversee operations at assisted living facilities.
  • The United Way of Walton County activates a fund to help people affected by the pandemic.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

  • Gov. Brian Kemp cancels the remainder of the school year and issues a statewide shelter-in-place order, effective Friday, April 3.
  • At the start of April 2020, Georgia has 4,638 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 12 in Walton County. There have been 139 deaths in the state and 952 people hospitalized.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

  • The state Department of Labor says it processed a record 133,820 unemployment claims in the previous week.

Friday, April 3, 2020

  • Gov. Brian Kemp signs an executive order deputizing sheriffs to enforce his shelter-in-place order.
  • Walmart says it will reduce the number of customers allowed in its stores, effective Saturday, April 4.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

  • Walton County has its first confirmed death from COVID-19. A second death is reported later in the day.

Monday, April 6, 2020

  • The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia tops 7,000. Twenty-three of the 7,314 cases in the state are in Walton County.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

  • Walton County commissioners approve hazard pay for frontline workers.
  • Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton extends the statewide judicial emergency until May 13.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

  • Gov. Brian Kemp signs an executive order suspending short-term vacation rentals, although hotels and extended-stay hotels remain legal.
  • More than 10,000 Georgians have now been infected with COVID-19.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

  • Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says he wil delay primary elections by three weeks, to June 9.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

  • Walton County records its third death from COVID-19.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

  • The Walton Tribune publishes the story of Nick Mrvos, a Loganville man who survived COVID-19 after a two-week stay in Piedmont Walton Hospital, including a week on a ventilator.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

  • More than 2,700 Walton County residents made first-time unemployment filings in March, the state reports, compared to just 124 in February.

Friday, April 17, 2020

  • The state says two people have died of COVID-19 at a Loganville nursing home.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

  • President Donald Trump criticizes Gov. Brian Kemp’s plans to restart Georgia’s economy.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

  • Park Place Nursing and Rehab in Monroe reports the first case of COVID-19 in a staff member at a long-term care facility in Walton County.

Friday, April 24, 2020

  • Beauty salons and barbershops reopen, with restrictions.
  • The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in patients at Park Place Nursing and Rehab doubles in a day, to eight.
  • A Walton County Fire Rescue station reopened after a brief closure for deep cleaning, after a part-time firefighter was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Monday, April 27, 2020

  • Walton County reaches 100 cases of COVID-19.
  • State leaders gather at the Capitol in Atlanta to pray over the battle against the pandemic.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

  • The state’s shelter-in-place order expires at midnight.
  • A fourth resident of Walton County dies of the novel coronavirus.

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