The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic: a local timeline

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A timeline of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected Franklin County.

  • A timeline of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected Franklin County.
    A timeline of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected Franklin County.
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Following is a timeline of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected Franklin County.

• Friday, Feb. 28

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp forms a task force to prevent the spread of coronavirus and respond to to cases in the state.

• Monday, March 2

Kemp and state health officials confirm the first cases of coronavirus in Georgia. Two people in Fulton County were found with the virus after returning from a trip to Italy.

• Thursday, March 5

The Franklin County Board of Education is told of actions being taken in local schools to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including enhanced cleaning, posters encouraging proper hand washing, sanitizing buses and having cleaning supplies on hand.

• Thursday, March 12

Kemp urges school systems to consider closing schools but stopped short of mandating that they do so.

• Friday, March 13

President Donald Trump declared a national emergency due to the coronavirus. 

The Franklin County Board of Education holds a called meeting and votes to remain open March 16, 17 and 18 before being out for school holidays March 19-20. The decision is made because there are no coronavirus cases within 50 miles of Franklin County. 

Students are sent home that same day with a packet of five days of work in case the system needs to shut down “at a moment’s notice.”

The Franklin County Senior Center is closed due to the coronavirus.

St. Mary’s Sacred Heart Hospital issues visitor restrictions as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus.

The Georgia General Assembly suspends its session.

The Franklin County Lions baseball teams plays a doubleheader at Jackson County. It is the last school-sponsored sporting event of the school year.

• Saturday, March 14

Kemp declares Georgia’s first public health emergency, to last until April 13, and calls the General Assembly back into session to ratify his decision.

Court functions in Georgia are suspended under a declaration of a statewide judicial emergency declared by Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton.

• Sunday, March 15

Franklin County Schools are closed until March 30.

Georgia’s Presidential Preference Primary, scheduled for March 24, is postponed until May 19 to coincide with the state and local primary elections.

• Monday, March 16

The Franklin County School System begins providing meals for students at pickup locations around the county.

The Georgia General Assembly meets to endorse Kemp’s emergency declaration and to give him special executive powers to deal with the spread of the virus.

• Tuesday, March 17

Most local government offices – city and county – close to walk-in traffic.

• Thursday, March 19

The Franklin County School System announces that the school closure would continue until April 13, which included a week of Spring Break from April 6-10.

• Monday, March 23

Kemp issues an order requiring Georgians at high risk of contracting the virus to stay at home. The order also closes bars and night clubs and prohibits gatherings of 10 or more people.

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners and city councils of Royston, Lavonia, Canon, Franklin Springs and Carnesville issue a joint press release in support of the governor’s order.

• Tuesday, March 24

Kemp orders all schools in the state to remain closed until April 24 and relaxed requirements in several areas, including final exams.

In allow voters an option to cast ballots without going to polls during the pandemic, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announces that all active voters in the state will be sent an application for an absentee ballot for the May 19 primaries. Franklin County Election Supervisor Gina Kesler said she had opted to send an application to all voters registered in the county, including inactive voters who have not participated in elections in the last few years.

• Thursday, March 26

The Georgia Department of Public Health reports the first confirmed case of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Franklin County.

County commissioners and the five city councils in Franklin County issue another joint press release urging people to follow state and federal guidelines for sanitation and to prevent the spread of the virus.

• Saturday, March 28

The Department of Public Health reported Franklin County’s second confirmed case of the coronavirus.

• Sunday, March 29.

President Trump declares Georgia a major disaster area due to the impacts of the coronavirus on the state.

• Monday, March 30.

Franklin County’s third confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported by state health officials.

• Tuesday, March 31.

A fourth case of coronavirus is reported in Franklin County.

• Wednesday, April 1.

Gov. Kemp announces that schools will be closed for the rest of the school year and that a shelter-in-place order mandating that Georgians stay home unless involved in essential business or for essential tasks, like grocery shopping, will be put in place Friday.

A fifth Franklin County case of the virus is reported by state officials.

• Friday, April 3.

The statewide shelter-in-place order goes into effect and will last until April 13. Many businesses are closed, while others are allowed to stay open for minimum business operations as long as they follow safety guidelines. Restaurants are allowed to only serve by pick-up or drive-through but must close dining rooms.

Both the Lavonia City Council and Royston City Council declare states of emergency in their cities, which allows city police to enforce the governor’s order and deal with issues caused by the stay-at-home order.

• Monday, April 6

Chief Justice Melton extends the declaration of statewide judicial emergency until May 13.

Twelve county commission chairmen in North Georgia wrote a letter to Kemp to ask that state parks be closed during the stay-at-home order. The order allowed people to use parks for exercise and recreation.

The Department of Public Health reduced the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Franklin County from five to three, saying that the other two cases were incorrectly reported as being from the county.

• Wednesday, April 8

Kemp and Georgia’s top legislative leaders announce that the statewide public health emergency declared to deal with the coronavirus would be extended through May 13.

Kemp also announced that he would extend the state’s shelter-in-place order through the rest of April.

• Thursday, April 9

Secretary of State Raffensperger moves the May 19 state primaries to June 9.

• Friday, April 10

A fourth case of coronavirus was confirmed in Franklin County.

• Tuesday, April 14

The Department of Public Health confirmed a fifth case of COVID-19 in Franklin County.

• Wednesday, April 15

The Franklin Springs City Council declares a state of emergency due to the coronavirus.

Two more cases of the virus were confirmed in Franklin County, the sixth and seventh for the county.

• Thursday, April 16

The eighth, ninth and 10th cases of the virus are confirmed in the county.

• Monday, April 20

Kemp announces plans to ease restrictions on some businesses.

The 11th and 12th cases of coronavirus are confirmed in Franklin County.

• Wednesday, April 22

Franklin County has two more cases of the virus confirmed, the 13th and 14th.

• Thursday, April 23

Two more cases of coronavirus are confirmed in Franklin County for a total of 16.

• Friday, April 24

Barber shops, salons, bowling alleys and some other businesses are allowed to reopen by the governor so long as they take precautions on hygiene and social distancing.

The Georgia Department of Public Health revises the total number of coronavirus cases in Franklin County down to 15.

• Sunday, April 26

The Georgia Department of Public Health reports the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Franklin County is up to 17.

• Monday, April 27

Most local restaurants choose to keep dining rooms closed after restrictions on dine-in service are lifted. Those that do open dining rooms close off tables to meet social distancing requirements.

• Thursday, April 30.

The first coronavirus death in Franklin County is reported. A 78-year-old man with underlying health conditions is the victim, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Gov. Kemp announces he will allow the statewide shelter-in-place order to expire. He extends the state’s health emergency for another 30 days.