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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.
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    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."

    KTSDesign/Science Photo Library

    Fulton County schools were closed after one teacher tested positive for the virus. Creekside High School, Bear Creek Middle School and Woodland Middle school were closed Monday after a teacher felt ill and went to a hospital on Friday.

    The teacher, who tested positive for the coronavirus, had direct contact with students at 2 middle schools, Patch.com reported. A high school was also closed because it was in the same neighborhood.

    Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

    "The closure will allow us to clean and sanitize affected schools as well as share additional details of our ongoing plan," school officials said in a statement. "Updates regarding this concern will be shared via additional emails and the district website."

    The district said all extracurricular activities are also closed until Tuesday. The school district will make a decision by 5 p.m. on Tuesday if additional schools need to close.

    There are six confirmed cases of covid-19 in Georgia. Cases were confirmed in Cobb, Fulton and Floyd Counties. A sixth case in Gwinnett County is presumed positive but still awaiting confirmation.

    The CDC confirmed 566 coronavirus cases in the U.S. and 26 deaths. The majority of the deaths are among the elderly population and people with chronic illnesses.

    No child under age 10 has died from the virus anywhere in the world. The virus causes mild flu-like symptoms in most healthy adults under age 50.

    And causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and potentially fatal pneumonia among the elderly population and those with chronic illness and weak immunity.

    Critics point out that school closures will force parents to leave their children at home with their grandparents - the population most vulnerable to the virus.

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