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Reporter’s Notebook: Voting and watching for a “twindemic”

Maggie Lee
State Farm Arena, home of the Hawks, is going to be an early voting location for Fulton County voters starting Monday. It's got 302 voting machines. (Credit: Maggie Lee)

By Maggie Lee

Georgia’s in-person early voting period starts Monday. Hours and locations vary by county though, so look up your county’s instructions online. Fulton’s are here. Fulton voters can also go to the biggest voting location in the state, State Farm Arena.

Voting by mail is still open too! No matter where you live, you can request a ballot be mailed to you. Use this form to request an absentee ballot.

If you need a free COVID-19 test, Fulton County lists locations.

If you need a flu shot, they’re available at county health offices and many pharmacies.  Check VaccineFinder (from Boston Children’s Hospital) to find flu shot locations across the country.

On to other happenings in metro Atlanta:

“Twindemic” avoidance

Flu season always drives up the number of people in hospitals, but this year, some of the beds will already be filled by COVID-19 patients.  That’s something folks in public health are watching carefully.

“Flu itself can be very deadly and can lead to hospitalizations, it could fill up our hospitals, and then not have capacity for COVID patients when and if that increase may occur,” said Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Georgia’s top public health official, at a Wednesday press conference and COVID-19 update.

And she said it’s not clear yet what the presence of influenza may do to a COVID-19 infection.

For weeks, Fulton’s emergency management consultants have been predicting a spike in demand for intensive-care hospital beds, which they’ve said would be driven by a range of things like school re-starting and flu season. But the COVID-19 demand comes on top of heart attacks, car crashes and anything else that would normally fill hospital beds.

The date of the predicted bed demand peak in Fulton is getting later and it’s getting a bit lower as more data arrives, said Doug Schuster with Emergency Management Services International, who briefed the county commission on Wednesday.  But it’s still a rough season.

“There are significantly, significantly high numbers in non-COVID use, and that is creating occasional shortages in [hospital] rooms,” defined as less than 15% of hospital beds being open, Schuster said.

Fulton covid update Oct 7

Oct. 7 COVID-19 data presented by ESMI to Fulton County. Click for a larger version.

But the modelling now suggests a COIVD-use peak at 277 beds on December 17. Schuster said that is significant, though nowhere near what the modelling suggested last week.

Fulton draws on a University of Washington model, and the data doesn’t go into 2021 yet.

The advice from public health officials: get a flu shot.

“We’re trying to prevent twindemics of COVID plus influenza, which could be devastating,” Toomey said.

Happy birthday to CAU’s school of social work

George French, Jr.

CAU President George French, Jr.

The Whitney M. Young School of Social Work at Clark Atlanta University turns 100 years old this year.

Originally chartered as the Atlanta School of Social Work, it was the first accredited social work program at any historically black institution in the United States.

“The Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work has withstood the test of time and continues to shine as a beacon of possibilities for intellectual activism,” said George T. French Jr., president of Clark Atlanta University, in a press release announcing upcoming celebrations to include webinars, a new book and celebration gala.

Check an opening video here and the celebration schedule here.

Google announces $5 million nationwide in grants to Black founders

As part of what it calls a “company-wide racial equality” commitment, Google announced $5 million will be granted to Black founders of companies across the nation from its Google for Startups Black Founders Fund.

About $2.35 million of that will be granted to 35 Georgia-based Black founders, at up to $100,000 each.

Metro Atlanta Chamber announces conservation award winners

The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce announced its latest round of E3 award winners, so named for working on clean tech, conservation, sustainability and enhancing the economy and environment.

Georgia Power won for the Georgia Power Foundation’s environmental grants program. The foundation awarded $1 million in environmental grants to eight organizations throughout the state. The grants will help fund projects which are focused on preserving and restoring Georgia’s waterways, lakes and rivers.

Other winners this year are, Genuine Parts Company, Georgia Tech’s Kendeda Building and the Atlanta Hawks & State Farm Arena.

Change of address for Surber Barber Choate + Hertlein

Architecture and interior design firm Surber Barber Choate + Hertlein is departing Ponce City Market for Morningside Village at 1395 North Highland Avenue, a development built in 1900.

“After helping to create Ponce City Market it is bittersweet to leave, but we are very excited about our relocation to Morningside Village,” said SBCH Principal Dennis Hertlein, in a press release announcing the move.

Calendar:

October 12-19: It’s Georgia political debate season. The Atlanta Press Club will partner with GBP and WABE 90.1 to host debates among candidates for U.S. House, U.S. Senate, the Georgia Public Service Commission and Gwinnett and Cobb county commission chairs. Watch online or on TV or the radio at this schedule.

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Maggie Lee
Maggie Lee

Maggie Lee is a freelance reporter who's been covering Georgia and metro Atlanta government and politics since 2008.

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