Initial tests show COVID-19 infections rise to 17 in Georgia

Fulton County closes schools after teacher tests positive; dozens from cruise ship to quarantine at Air Force base in Cobb County

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ATLANTA – Five more people in Georgia have tested positive for COVID-19, as disease fears spread to additional school districts.

A total of 17 people in the state have now tested positive, according to figures released late Monday, although only six have been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No additional cases were listed on the Georgia Department of Health’s website late Tuesday evening.

The cases are from eight Georgia counties: Cherokee, Cobb, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Fayette, Floyd, Fulton, and Polk, according to a statement from Gov. Brian Kemp. The vast majority of the cases are in the metropolitan Atlanta area, although two of the confirmed cases are in neighboring counties on the Alabama border.

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

One of Georgia’s largest school districts — Fulton County Schools — closed all its schools for at least one day on Tuesday after a teacher at two middle schools was found to have COVID-19. According to data kept by Education Week, Fulton County is the largest school district to close nationwide.

Two other Georgia school systems told parents that employees had gone into self-quarantine after potential contact.

In Paulding County, west of Atlanta, parents of students at McGarity Elementary in Hiram were warned Monday that an employee is in self-quarantine after contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19. Officials said they fumigated the school Sunday.

The Harris County school district, just north of Columbus, announced Tuesday that a middle school teacher had made contact with U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, who has self-quarantined because of potential exposure. Collins is seeking a U.S. Senate seat and visited Columbus on Saturday for a Republican Party headquarters opening. About 250 people were at that event, WRBL-TV reported.

The teacher has self-quarantined “out of an abundance of caution,” the Harris County district said. Schools remain in session, although district officials said they are cleaning school buildings.

State Superintendent Richard Woods said in a Tuesday statement that schools should follow recommendations of health officials. “At this time, school closures are not recommended for other areas,” Woods said.

Company officials say a worker at a Georgia Waffle House tested positive for COVID-19. It has prompted co-workers to quarantine themselves in their homes.

Thousands of voters are expected to head to the polls on March 24 for the state’s primary. Options are available to people who wish to avoid the crowds.