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President, governor and county leaders declare emergency over coronavirus

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President, governor and county leaders declare emergency over coronavirus

Donald Trump. Photo by Gage Skidmore, obtained via Wikimedia Commons
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DeKalb County, GA – President Trump on Friday, March 13, declared a national emergency over the coronavirus outbreak and state and local leaders quickly followed.

Gov. Brian Kemp said, ““Based on President Trump’s emergency declaration, I will declare a public health emergency for the State of Georgia tomorrow morning. This declaration will greatly assist health and emergency management officials across Georgia by deploying all available resources for the mitigation and treatment of COVID-19. In accordance with state law, I will call for a special session of the General Assembly to convene at the State Capitol at 8 AM on Monday, March 16, 2020 to ratify this action through a joint resolution.”

He also called for faith-based organizations to consider canceling public events and services.

“Contact your local public health office or consult official sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia Department of Public Health, for helpful guidance on decision-making,” Kemp said. “Elderly citizens and those with chronic, underlying health conditions face a serious threat to their health, and we must do everything in our power to reduce risk associated with this virus. Continue to support one another, be mindful of potential exposure, use best practices to prevent infection, and pray for your fellow Americans in the weeks ahead.”

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This is Georgia’s first-ever public health emergency, Kemp’s office said.

Locally, DeKalb County activated its emergency response plan, which included stopping water cutoffs until further notice.

“Our government will continue to serve the people of DeKalb County,” CEO Michael Thurmond said in the county’s announcement. “We are taking every precaution to limit the spread of the virus in our community.”

The county put the following protocols in place:

Water

–  If needed, the Department of Watershed Management has identified a supplemental certified workforce to ensure continued operations of the water treatment facility.

– The county has reviewed its mutual aid agreements with the state of Georgia to receive emergency assistance to continue service if necessary.

– In 2017, CEO Thurmond signed an executive order establishing a moratorium on all residential water cutoffs while a customer’s bill is disputed.

Public Safety

– To ensure maintenance of appropriate police staffing levels, all detectives will be in uniform as backup reserve officers.

– The Fire Rescue Department has acquired additional personal protective equipment in order to respond to potential COVID-19 calls.

– Adjusted questions asked by E911 staff to identify suspected cases of COVID-19 during the call-taking process by using the emerging infectious disease surveillance system.

Senior Centers

– The county’s 317 Meals on Wheels clients will continue to be served as normal.

– The North DeKalb, South DeKalb, DeKalb-Atlanta and East DeKalb (Bruce Street) senior centers will be open to distribute meals to their 559 customers only. Seniors will be able to pick up their meals between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Senior customers of these centers who do not have transportation should call 770-322-2950 from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

– The Lou Walker and Mason Mill multipurpose senior centers will be closed until further notice.

Sanitation

– Qualified beautification unit employees will be used to supplement sanitation division driver and refuse collector operations.

– The sanitation department has identified retired sanitation employees to supplement operational teams if necessary.

Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs

– While DeKalb’s recreation facilities will be closed to the public, all county parks will remain open for outdoor use. All group gatherings, rentals, program and activities will be suspended from March 16-31.

– Students will be able to pick up snacks at the following DeKalb County recreation centers from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday:

– Gresham Recreation Center, 3113 Gresham Road, Atlanta, GA 30316

– Exchange Intergenerational Recreation Center, 2771 Columbia Drive, Decatur, GA 30034

– Redan Recreation Center, 1839 Phillips Rd., Lithonia, GA 30058

– Tobie Grant Recreation Center, 644 Parkdale Drive, Scottdale, GA 30079

– N.H. Scott Recreation Center, 2230 Tilson Road, Decatur, GA 30032

– Lucious Sanders Recreation Center, 2484 Bruce Street, Lithonia, GA 30058

– Mason Mill Recreation Center, 1340- B McConnell Drive, Decatur, GA 30033

– Hamilton Recreation Center, 3263 Chapel Street, Scottdale, GA 30079

– Midway Recreation Center, 3181 Midway Road, Decatur, GA  30032

Department of Information Technology

– The information technology department is procuring additional licenses and technology for virtual meetings.

– The department has ordered 100 laptops to help support additional technology requirements.

– Employees with county-issued laptops or iPads have been instructed to take them home each day, as well as any tools/resources they would need to work remotely.

Additional operational updates will be available as issued and can be found at www.dekalbcountyga.gov/coronavirus.

All branches of the DeKalb County Public Library will close at the end of regular operating hours on March 14 until further notice.

“Saturday, March 14, will be the last day that patrons can pick up materials on hold or borrow physical items from branches until the library reopens,” the Library Board announced. “For patrons with physical materials currently checked out, the library system will adjust the due dates so that fines will not be incurred.”

Early voting at the Dunwoody, Tucker-Reid H. Cofer and Stonecrest libraries will continue as planned unless otherwise announced by DeKalb Board of Elections.

The Briarwood Recreation Center won’t be an early voting location until further notice, the county says.

Absentee ballot applications are due March 20.

According to the county:

Applications to vote absentee by mail in the March 24 presidential preference primary and special election must be submitted no later than Friday, March 20, 2020.

All absentee ballots must be received by the DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections Office no later than 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, 2020, with the exception of Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) voters.  UOCAVA voters’ ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, March 24, 2020, and received by the elections office no later than Friday, March 27, 2020.

Absentee ballot applications can be obtained by visiting www.DeKalbvotes.com, emailing Absenteeballot@dekalbcountyga.gov, or calling the DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections Office at 404-298-4020.

For more information, contact the DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections Office at 404-298-4020.

MARTA also is taking precautions:

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