Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says her stay-at-home order for the coronavirus pandemic would likely be extended beyond its original April 6 deadline. Meanwhile, she is keeping city parks and the Atlanta BeltLine open, despite some complaints of crowding there.

She made the comment March 31 during a conference call with the Atlanta City Council to provide an update on the city’s coronavirus response.

As the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, President Trump has already extended social distancing guidelines until the end of April. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia jumped to 3,817 and 108 related deaths in the state Department of Public Health’s March 31 noon report.

Bottoms said she was still not ready to issue an order to close city parks and the Atlanta BeltLine trails. “I’m relying on our scientists and medical experts to decide when I should issue an order to close the parks and trails and they have not advised closure yet,” she said.

She said she had been updated by Atlanta BeltLine Inc. CEO Clyde Higgs that the number of users were decreasing on the BeltLine, but acknowledged that the message to stay home was “not resonating with some people.”
Councilmember Michael Julian Bond implored Bottoms to close the parks and trails, noting that he had already lost two family members to COVID-19 and was disturbed that many residents were acting like it was “business as usual” and not taking the stay-at-home order and social distancing measures seriously.

In other updates from the conference call:

  • Bottoms reviewed her new order about hazard pay for some city workers during the pandemic.
  • Bottoms said 13 city employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Bottoms said Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development agency, had received 200 applications for small business loans and granted five so far.
  • A hotel has been offered to house the homeless population that needs to be quarantined or isolated if they test positive or have been exposed to COVID-19.
  • Bottoms said she would look into possible action about preventing private landlords from evicting renters during the crisis, but said she had very little jurisdiction there. She noted that the Fulton County Magistrate Court would not be hearing eviction cases at this time.
  • Bottoms encouraged residents to use the new website for updated information and asked people to call 311 if they observed gatherings or parties of large people in violation of the stay-at-home and social distancing orders.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.