Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says hospital intensive care units are "at capacity" during the coronavirus outbreak.

Georgia has confirmed 1,387 coronavirus cases and 7 deaths due to the virus.

Bottoms said intensive care units are struggling to find beds for the sickest patients, partly due to a water main break at Grady, the city's public hospital.

She confirmed Atlanta's hospitals aren't overrun by coronavirus patients, like hospitals in New York City.

"People have to understand that when we overrun our hospitals, people will still come in with heart attacks, people will still have car accidents," she told CBS 46.

"These things that happen every day on top of COVID-19 will make our health care system collapse in the same way you're seeing it in New York and you're seeing it happen across the globe."

Bottoms said hospitals in Atlanta are likely to be "near capacity" as the pandemic grows.

The CDC says people who have mild flu symptoms should avoid going to a hospital unless absolutely necessary.

The CDC offers the following tips to avoid spreading the flu or Covid-19 virus:

1. Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds
2. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
3. Avoid close contact with sick people
4. Sneeze and cough into a tissue or your elbow
5. Stay home if you are sick
5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
6. When in doubt consult with a healthcare professional

Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says she has ordered Watershed not to turn off residential water over unpaid bills for 60 days due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Mayor Bottoms is also considering banning large outdoor gatherings for 30 days as irrational fears over the virus spreads.

The mayor issued the order because some people may be out of work due to concerns over the coronavirus epidemic.

"The health and wellbeing of Atlanta residents is at the forefront of everything we do as a city," she said in a news release on Wednesday. "Access to water is paramount in the prevention of COVID-19 or any infectious health threat and no one should be deprived of this fundamental resource because of an inability to pay."

According to WSB-TV, the mayor urged all city residents and visitors to follow preventive measures to limit the spread of the virus, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  •  

    Read the mayor's order here.

    Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

    The Atlanta City Council committed approved free swimming for low-income children over the objections of the mayor's office.

    The city charges $5 per child to swim in Atlanta's 12 city-run pools, but the Atlanta City Council committee approved legislation to eliminate the fee -- despite objections from Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' office.

    LaChandra Butler-Burks, the mayor's executive director of the Office of Recreation, fought tooth and nail to keep the swimming fee in place.

    According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, an ordinance was introduced by Council members Matt Westmoreland and Marci Overstreet that pointed out the disparities in deaths at city pools.

    Roughly 64 percent of Black children can't swim, and the drowning rate is three times higher for Black children.

    The ordinance blamed the disparities on unacceptable lack of access to city pools for low-income children.

    The mayor's office asked the Council to hold off on the vote to remove the fee because it could increase security costs at the pools significantly. But the Council proceeded with Tuesday's vote.

    The city pools generate $54,000 in revenue for the city. The original legislation moved $60,000 from a non-developmental fund to the Parks Department budget to make up the difference.

    The city currently provides security at the pools only during free swim hours.

    "We are at our best as a city when we are taking care of the people that need it the most," Overstreet said. "There is no reason we shouldn't have free swim in the summer. So we need to work as hard as we can to make sure that happens."

    Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images

    A group of concerned Atlanta activists traveled to Joe Biden's campaign stop in South Carolina last weekend to ask Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms why she is not doing enough to stop gentrification in her city.

    According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, one of the activists created a Facebook flyer featuring the mayor's face with the words "HELP FIND ME!"

    "Last seen campaigning with Joe Biden. We need her back to do some work in Atlanta," read the caption.

    Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

    Mayor Bottoms frequently travels out of town to support Biden at campaign events. The AJC reports Mayor Bottoms attended Biden campaign events in Iowa, Alabama and Tennessee in February alone.

    Atlanta activists say they are concerned that Bottoms isn't doing enough to halt the progression of gentrification or stop low-income Black people from being displaced from their homes.

    The mayor's spokesperson said in February Bottoms halted gentrification construction on the Westside, committed $100 million for affordable housing and signed legislation to create the city's first Inspector General -- all while juggling her duties as wife and mom and campaigning for her potential running mate, Biden.

    "The mayor can walk and chew gum at the same time," her spokesperson told AJC.com, before adding that all of her campaign trips were on the weekends.

    Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

    At a Biden campaign event in South Carolina last weekend, Bertha Darden, a longtime Peoplestown resident, scored face time with Biden after unsuccessfully trying to locate Mayor Bottoms.

    Darden asked Biden to "please tell her to stop evicting and displacing Black families in Atlanta."

    Biden, who is showing signs of dementia, called Bottoms a great mayor and began describing problems with gentrification -- in North Carolina.

    When Darden told Biden that the city of Atlanta used eminent domain to steal her house, Biden promised to have a conversation with her at a later date.

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    Screen grab: CNN

    President Trump is currently touring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. He urged Americans to remain calm even as the news media overhypes the virus outbreak in the U.S.

    Trump downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak that killed 11 people -- all middle aged or elderly -- on the West Coast.

    "We have 240 cases -- most of those people are going to be fine," Trump told reporters at the CDC. "We've had 11 deaths and they've been largely old people who are susceptible to what's happening."

    Trump, who wore his red campaign cap, compared the Coronavirus casualties to the common flu, noting that over 30,000 people have died from the flu this season -- but the media won't report that.

    "The common flu kills people and old people... the interesting thing here -- it's very interesting... the young seem to be doing unbelievably well, actually better than they do with the flu."

    Trump said he is not big on handshaking, but he said he shakes hands because he's a politician. "I feel very secure," he said.

    The White House canceled Trump's planned visit to the CDC earlier today due to a report that a CDC employee tested positive for the virus. But Trump explained that the employe tested negative, so the trip was back on.

    He said the Secret Service worked out the logistics so he could visit the CDC to thank scientists for their hard work on his way to Florida.

    In response to a question about canceling his campaign rallies, Trump said he's not planning to cancel his rallies. "It doesn't bother me at all and it doesn't bother them," he said, referring to his supporters who pack arenas to attend his rallies.

    Governor Brian Kemp, who accompanied Trump on his tour of the CDC, urged people to wash their hands and stay home if they feel sick.

    Photo by Paras Griffin#SPORT/Getty Images

    Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms rushed back to Atlanta after citizens expressed disappointment with her leadership skills on social media.

    Citizens and civic leaders complained that Lance Bottoms, 50, was often on the campaign trail with presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

    On Monday, Lance Bottoms issued an Administrative Order allocating $100 million to create more affordable housing in Atlanta.

    "Building a housing inventory that working families and seniors can afford is a major component of our vision for One Atlanta," she said in a statement. "These new public dollars will further our mission to create a more equitable and affordable city for all those who desire to call Atlanta home."

    Also on Monday, Mayor Lance Bottoms issued an executive order cracking down on new construction permits around Westside Park to halt "rapid gentrification" in the area.

    The timing of the mayor's orders are no coincidence.

    Black leaders complained that gentrification was changing the landscape of Atlanta neighborhoods that have traditionally been overlooked by lenders and real estate investors.

    They also complained about the rising crime rate in Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs. They demanded Lance Bottoms leave the Biden campaign trail to deal with the rising crime rate at home.

    Fed up with the mayor's frequent absences from the city she was elected to lead, Atlanta activist and businesswoman Sabrina Peterson is organizing an effort to block her reelection.

    Mayor Lance Bottoms is pictured above with her husband Derek W. Bottoms at a recent Atlanta Hawks game at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.

    Photo by FayesVision/WENN.com

    R&B singer-turned-reality TV personality Kandi Burruss is "truly saddened" after a shooting wounded three people and sent diners fleeing for their lives at her Atlanta restaurant over the weekend. Kandi, 43, is best known as one of the original members of the girl group Xscape.

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    Photo: Google Maps

    A man entered the Old Lady Gang (OLG) soul food restaurant off Camp Creek Parkway in east Point on Friday and shot another man, according to East Point police. Two bystanders were wounded by gunfire. According to police, all three victims are expected to survive their injuries.

    Photo by WENN.com

    The restaurant is managed by Kandi's mother, Joyce (pictured right), and owned by The Real Housewives of Atlanta star and her husband Todd Tucker (center).

    In an Instagram post titled "God's Got You," Kandi wrote:

    "My family and I are truly saddened by the unfortunate events that occurred at Old Lady Gang (OLG) Camp Creek, on the evening of February 14th, an evening that was meant to celebrate love, unfortunately turned into something quite different.

    "Our prayers and thoughts go out to the individuals that were harmed or in any way negatively impacted. We are aware that this matter is being actively investigated by law enforcement and we are cooperating with law enforcement to bring to justice those involved."

    Photo by Nicky Nelson/WENN.com

    Kandi explained why she opened her restaurants in high crime areas of Atlanta:

    "As African-American business owners, it has been our goal to invest in our community by bringing jobs, quality dining, and a positive experience to the greater Atlanta area; we hope that you know and understand that the acts of violence that occurred yesterday evening do not, in any way, serve as a reflection of OLG or its values.

    "We appreciate all of the love and prayers that have come our way and we encourage anyone with any information regarding any aspects of the events that occurred to please reach out to law enforcement as soon as possible."

    Kandi and husband Todd opened the original restaurant at the Castleberry Hill location in 2016, and the chain now has three locations around Georgia.

    Photo by David Reed/Redferns via Getty Images

    The doctor who treated the late Soul singer James Brown insists there was no foul play in the superstar's death.

    Jacque Hollander, who knew Brown before he passed, turned over a mountain of evidence to investigators that suggest he was murdered.

    A spokesperson from the Fulton County District Attorney's Office has confirmed to TMZ that prosecutor Paul Howard met with Hollander on Wednesday, Feb. 12, to go over the evidence.

    Howard expressed interest in reopening the case after speaking with Hollander.

    However, Dr. Marvin Crawford told the gossip site that the Fulton County District Attorney's Office is wasting its time looking into Hollander's purported evidence.

    Dr. Crawford insists there was no foul play when he examined Brown right after he died.

    Photo by WENN.com

    Crawford says Brown suffered a heart attack on December 25, 2006, and was hospitalized in Atlanta, Georgia.

    Brown suffered a second heart attack not long afterward, resulting in his death on Christmas Day at age 73.

    Crawford adds that Brown had a long medical history of diabetes and hypertension, which contributed to his death. He insists he's never met Hollander and doesn't know why she believes Brown was murdered.

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    Photos: Atlanta PD

    A teenage boy wearing a wig and feminine attire has targeted 5 Metro Atlanta gyms to steal credit cards, identifications and even a truck.

    Police say Tarquinnious Mack, 17, is wanted on multiple charges including robbery and auto theft. He has targeted gyms in Holly Springs, Cobb, Gwinnett, Forsyth and Cherokee counties.

    Mack and a crew of similarly dressed individuals target gyms after the holidays - when most people are working on their New Year's resolutions.

    According to Channel 2's Sophia Choi, Mack has committed robberies in Atlanta since November 2019. Police know he lives in Atlanta, but they are having trouble catching up to him and his crew.

    "He's been very active the last few weeks," Covington police capt. Ken Malcolm told Choi.

    Malcolm said Mack gains access to the gyms by telling staffers he lost his membership card. Once inside the locker rooms, he steals credit cards and IDs from lockers. At one location, he stole a credit card and went next door to Walmart where he used it to buy gift cards. He then left the scene in a stolen pickup truck.

    After Choi tweeted her story about Mack on Wednesday, Donna Liggins tweeted that the "low life" stole her husband's truck from a gym in Forsyth County on Nov. 11. She said the vehicle was recovered on Dec. 11.

    Photo may have been deleted

    Police hope the public will call in with tips on Mack's location. In the meantime, police have advice for gyms and members to avoid becoming victims.

    "The gymnasiums have to be vigilant in making sure that any individual that comes in is an actual member," Malcolm said.

    Police also recommend gym members bring their own locks if they use a locker.

    Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

    Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms will seek a second term in 2021, her spokesperson confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday.

    Bottoms narrowly defeated Mary Norwood in a December, 2017 runoff election by less than 1,000 votes.

    "I don't have any reaction at all," Norwood told the AJC. "Good for her."

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    Photo by @ATLien/StraightfromtheA.com

    Bottoms is pictured with her husband, Derek W. Bottoms, at last month's UNCF Mayor's Masked Ball in Atlanta.

    The mayor's accomplishments in 2019 include announcing a comprehensive plan to build affordable housing, creation of a housing innovation lab, eliminating cash bail bonds for low level offenders, restricting the use of city-issued credit cards for personal expenditures, and establishing "Open Checkbook" online so the public can review the city's spending.

    In an interview with GeorgiaTrend magazine last month, which named her 2020 Georgian of the Year, Bottoms said she gave historic pay increases to the city's police and fire department employees.

    Atlanta City Councilman Julian Bond praised Bottoms and said the announcement that she plans to seek reelection is "comforting." He said he doesn't think anyone can beat her.

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    Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Black voters are waking up to the sobering fact that the Democratic Party may not have their best interests at heart.

    Presidential hopefuls traveled to Atlanta to take part in the Democratic debate on Wednesday, Nov. 20.

    Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/POOL

    Cory Booker, left, and Kamala Harris, right, are mixed race candidates who claim to represent Black Americans. But Black voters say the candidates didn't touch on the issues that concern Black voters.

    "I was disappointed at the fact that two of the most controversial issues concerning Georgia – reproductive rights and election integrity – were only discussed in the last 11 minutes of the debate, said Howard student and Atlanta native Keri Felton.

    Council member Khalid Kamau was also disappointed in the candidates.

    "These candidates and the media came to Atlanta, to the Atlanta University Center, Paschal's restaurant, and told us how important we are. Then they get on TV and barely mention us. It's like dating a f-ckboy," Kamau said.

    Activists also point to the rapid gentrification of Atlanta, a formerly majority Black city.

    "For working-class ATLiens, it's not working out for us," said Sankara Lumumba. "We've gotten rid of public housing, the city is becoming less Black, the administration of this city doesn't match up to what is being publicly put out there."

    Lumumba volunteers with the Community Movement Builders who fight gentrification in Atlanta. Gentrification is a term that describes the takeover of Black and urban neighborhoods by developers and wealthy investors who raise property taxes to force Black homeowners out of their neighborhoods.

    Activists blame Black politicians for permitting gentrification in Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthplace.

    "There's a black political elite that's teamed up with the economic elite and they run the city," said Kamau Franklin, the organization’s founder. "They don't run it for working-class or poor black folks. They run it to further capitalist development. It's a whitewash of what the Black Mecca is supposed to be."

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    Photo: Getty Images

    President Trump will be in Atlanta on Friday to rally the Black vote with a new African American coalition, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

    According to WSBTV, the President will launch the Black Voices for Trump Coalition with a rally at the Georgia World Congress Center on Friday, Nov. 8.

    Black conservatives are eager to attend the Black Voices for Trump Coalition on Friday, but Black leaders in Atlanta don't want Trump rallying the Black vote here.

    Anti-Trump activist Isaac Hayes III, the son of R&B/Soul legend Isaac Hayes, tweeted "I honestly wanna attend this thing just to see which unfreed Georgia slaves show up for massa Trump!"


     

    And anti-Trump Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, tweeted simply: "#MorningMotivation” with a link to the AJC.com story announcing Trump's rally.

    Trump is polling higher among Black votes today than he did following the presidential election in 2016. The Black Voices for Trump Coalition rally is expected to be well-attended.

    Trump will likely highlight the lower Black unemployment rate and encourage the business sector to invest in struggling Black areas in Atlanta.

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    On Sept. 9, the Atlanta school board met in secret and voted not to extend Superintendent Meria Carstarphen's contract, which expires June 30, 2020.

    Carstarphen's ouster divided the city and sparked widespread condemnation of the school board for holding a secret majority vote by a public body. Parents called into local radio shows to express their outrage over Carstarphen's ouster.

    Carstarphen's forced departure made national news.

    As Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, Carstarphen (pictured left) led the district's nearly 52,000 students, 6,000 full-time employees and 87 schools and oversaw the system’s $1 billion annual budget.

    Verdaillia Turner, educator and president of 1,700-member Atlanta Federation of Teachers, says the Atlanta school board should be "transparent" in its search for a replacement for Carstarphen.

    In a guest column published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Turner said the school board should listen to the advice of educators rather than business interests that played a key role in selecting Carstarphen.

    She accused the APS of entering into long-term contracts with companies and organizations that favor privatization under the banner of charter schools.

    And she urged the APS to choose a superintendent who believes in public education.

    "Hiring a superintendent is a monumental task and the Atlanta Board of Education should learn from the recent past to avoid pitfalls that could have serious ramifications for the future of the school system," she writes.

    "Atlanta Public Schools needs a superintendent who will implement models that have been proven to work, such as the Community Schools approach that emphasizes meeting the whole family’s needs, real family engagement, community partnerships, and wrap-around services.

    She added: "In a city such as Atlanta where most students suffer from poverty, this model is especially needed. A recent study identified Atlanta as the city with the least economic mobility for poor children."

    Turner also criticized the school board for selecting Carstarphen, a Tulane and Auburn graduate, who has little teaching experience.

    "Shouldn't a superintendent have spent time in the classroom interacting with students, parents, and other teachers?" she wrote.

    Atlanta public schools are among the lowest performing schools in the nation. The Atlanta school district is still digging out from under the teacher cheating scandal of 2009.

    Top teachers and principals in the Atlanta Public Schools were arrested for cheating on state-administered standardized tests. The teachers have since been released from prison.

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    CBS46 News

    Big box retail and grocery store chains are struggling to combat increasing shoplifting offenses in their stores.

    One Atlanta grocery store has come up with a controversial solution for a decades long shoplifting problem: caged grocery store aisles.

    Customers who enter the College Park Kroger in South Fulton, southwest of Atlanta, are confronted with a second set of doors and glass facade inside the store.

    Customers argue that the glass enclosure is racist and makes them feel like caged animals. They worry that they will be trapped inside the enclosure with the criminals.

    "I think it's kind of racist you definitely see that here on Old National," a mother of three told CBS46 News.

    "You won't see that in Fayetteville or maybe Cobb County anywhere, doubt it," said the mother.

    Others expressed their anger in social media posts featuring photos of the enclosure.

    But some Atlantans agreed the security measure is necessary to prevent major grocery store chains from moving their stores out of high crime neighborhoods.

    They see the cages as a short-term solution to a long-term problem. South Fulton residents who don't own cars would be forced to take public transportation to other neighborhoods to buy groceries.

    The College Park Kroger store is the only one in the area with the controversial security installation.

    CBS46 reporter Jamie Kennedy asked customers if they knew that shoplifting and theft were issues at the store. "Yes I have, I have, yeah, quite a bit," said a longtime Kroger shopper.

    Other shoppers tell CBS46 that many people take things from shelves and use them in the bathroom without paying.

    A South Fulton police officer who moonlights at the store said the College Park Kroger doesn't have more shoplifting incidents than other stores in the area.

    In a statement to CBS46, a Kroger spokesperson was unapologetic:

    "Thank you for reaching out to us. These changes are being implemented to help improve operational efficiencies, provide better inventory management and increase profitability. We take pride in keeping our shelves fully stocked with the items our customers want and need and we believe these changes, which are part of a pilot project, will help us do so."

    Prince Williams/ATLPics.net

    Sean "Diddy" Combs received a State Resolution for his Achievements in Entertainment and Business at The Georgia Entertainment Caucus Award Ceremony held at Georgia State Capital on Wednesday, September 11, in Atlanta, Georgia.

    Prince Williams/ATLPics.net

    The media mogul was honored for launching Revolt TV & Media, a music-oriented digital cable television network, in Los Angeles in 2013. He was also recognized for his many contributions to hip-hop music.

    Prince Williams/ATLPics.net

    Combs posed with his cousin and friend of the blog, Atlanta socialite Eboni Elektra.

    Prince Williams/ATLPics.net

    Combs posed with Ga. Rep. Erica Thomas (L) and Vice President, Creative at BMI, Catherine Brewton (R).

    Prince Williams/ATLPics.net

    Combs pressed the flesh, took photos and kissed babies in preparation for his big announcement to run for public office.

    A prominent Atlanta surgeon killed her 2 adult children before turning the gun on herself. Cobb County police found three bodies in a Vinings townhouse while conducting a wellness check on Wednesday. Police identified the deceased as Dr. Marsha Edwards, center, her 20-year-old daughter Erin Edwards, right, and 24-year-old son Chris Edwards Jr., left.

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    Sparkle Rai and Chiman Rai

    The TV One true-crime series "ATL Homicide" covered the murder of Sparkle Rai, a newlywed mother-of-one, who was killed in her Union City, Georgia apartment in 2000.

    The killer stabbed Sparkle and strangled her with a vacuum cleaner cord in front of her crying baby after letting himself into her apartment with a key. Police had no suspects and the case soon went cold.

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    Ralo

    A massive early morning raid on a Southwest Atlanta apartment complex on Wednesday is connected to the arrest of up-and-coming rapper Ralo, according to Channel 2 Action News.

    Agents from the ATF, FBI and Department of Homeland Security executed no-knock warrants on Ralo's heavily fortified apartment complex along Lucile Avenue.

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    Tip at march for humanity

    Rapper T.I. has some aggressive fans, but not all of them are women. The rap mogul took part in Monday's March for Humanity in Atlanta to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s burial. The march began at King's Ebeneezer Baptist Church and concluded at the Georgia State Capitol.

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    Bernice King, Martin Luther King, III, his daughter Yolanda King and other King family members joined hundreds of Atlantans to commemorate this day with a March for Humanity from King's Ebeneezer Baptist Church to the steps of the State Capitol building.

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