Cobb COVID-19 deaths near 1,000; more than 200 in East Cobb

Cobb COVID deaths near 1,000
For more Cobb COVID data, click here: Source: Cobb and Douglas Public Health

As of Friday afternoon there have been 940 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in Cobb County since the pandemic began in March 2020, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health, which also has listed 77 probable deaths in its latest daily status report.

As has been the case for most of the pandemic, the COVID-19 deaths have largely occurred in older people. Cobb and Douglas Public Health’s latest data shows that 42.2 percent of the deaths have been people 80 and older; 304. percent are between ages 70-79; and 14.5 percent are between 60-69.

There have been 217 COVID-19 deaths in East Cobb ZIP Codes, according to the latest CDPH data, but that’s not broken down by age:

  • 30066: 4,316 cases; 57 deaths
  • 30062: 4,535 cases; 56 deaths
  • 30068: 2,489 cases; 64 deaths
  • 30067: 3,643 cases; 36 deaths
  • Totals: 15,580 cases; 217 deaths

Dr. Janet Memark, director of Cobb and Douglas Public Health, said in an updated message on Friday that while case rates are going down in the county, the public must continue to be vigilant.

Georgia DPH data as of Friday indicated that the 14-day average of PCR tests per 100,000 people in Cobb is at 126, close to the definition of “high community spread” threshold of 100 cases per 100,000.

But as school students in Cobb returned to classes this week, she said there figures to be a bump in those and similar metrics.

The British variant B.1.1.7. makes up about 45 percent of Cobb’s cases, a doubling from the last couple of weeks, she said.

That variant, one of three that’s been discovered in Cobb, is more transmissable, and is affecting younger age groups (30-50 in Michigan, where there’s another COVID-19 wave taking place).

“It may not be as deadly,” she said, perhaps because it’s not significantly affecting older people, one of the primary groups to be vaccinated.

“We’re not done yet,” Memark said. “If you are not vaccinated, you are still at risk. We still cannot gather with large groups of people yet. You cannot be risking high-risk folks that can’t get vaccinated.

“We’ve got to keep wearing our masks when we go out in public because not everybody’s vaccinated.”

She said 17 percent of Cobb’s more than 760,000 residents have been fully vaccinated, meaning that 83 percent have not. To reach herd immunity, Memark said, “that number’s got to flip.”

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East Cobb restaurant update: gusto! opening slated for summer

Gusto East Cobb summer opening

We got an update from a representative of the forthcoming gusto! casual eatery at Parkaire Landing Shopping Center, who says the opening is generally slated for the summer.

There’s not a date or more specific time range that’s been announced, and initial renovations are underway.

gusto! (it’s smaller case g) will occupy the former space of Moe’s Southwest Grill (688 Johnson Ferry Road), which closed in November.

The Atlanta-based chain, which has seven other locations, is making its foray into East Cobb. The menu includes salads, bowls and wraps, many with Tex-Mex ingredients. Here are more details about what you’ll be able to order:

“a choice of four base options: crisp mixed greens, seasoned brown rice, half and half or a steamed flatbread wrap topped with a grilled protein (such as grilled chicken, umami tofu, shrimp or new baby bellas) and a gusto! – a signature flavor profile, with choices including chipotle mango avocado, ginger lime peanut, chile sesame barbeque, tahini cucumber feta, sweet soy sriracha and tzatziki lemon artichoke. Each order comes with house-made sweet potato chips and in addition to the traditional menu, gusto! East Cobb will offer family meal and meal prep options along with catering.”

The gusto! East Cobb spot will have outdoor dining and “limited indoor dining” when it opens, and will be the second such location with drive-through ordering.

The hours will be Sunday from 10:30 AM to 10PM for lunch and dinner, and delivery will be availalble through select third-party partners.

“Our goal is to truly permeate the community and its subcultures within sports, churches, schools and beyond. We look forward to representing something different and becoming ingrained as an East Cobber brand,” gusto! founder Nate Hybl said.

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East Cobb food scores: Righteous ‘Que; Minas Emporium; more

Righteous Que, East Cobb food scores

The following East Cobb food scores for the week of April 12 have been compiled by the Cobb & Douglas Department of Public Health. Click the link under each listing for inspection details:

Bells Ferry Elementary School
2600 Bells Ferry Road
April 12, 2021 Score: 100, Grade: A

East Valley Elementary School
2570 Lower Roswell Road
April 14, 2021 Score: 100, Grade: A

Jersey Mike’s Subs
4400 Roswell Road, Suite 148
April 12, 2021 Score: 94, Grade: A

Manorcare Rehabilitation Center
4360 Johnson Ferry Place
April 14, 2021 Score: 100, Grade: A

Minas Emporium
2555 Delk Road, Suite B4
April 12, 2021 Score: 86, Grade: B

The Place
700 Sand Plains Road, Suite A-1
April 13, 2021 Score: 96, Grade: A

Righteous ‘Que
1050 E. Piedmont Road, Suite 136-140
April 14, 2021 Score: 94, Grade: A

Sabores de Mexico
1951 Canton Road, Suite 330
April 13, 2021 Score: 85, Grade: B

Sunrise at East Cobb
1551 Johnson Ferry Road
April 12, 2021 Score: 85, Grade: B

Wendy’s
2238 Roswell Road
April 15, 2021 Score: 91, Grade: A

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East Cobb Cityhood leaders stress message of ‘local control’

East Cobb Cityhood leaders
State Reps. Sharon Cooper and Matt Dollar have co-sponsored a new East Cobb Cityhood bill.

In their first interaction with the public, leaders of the revived East Cobb Cityhood movement on Wednesday stressed the importance of local control, especially when it comes to zoning and development matters.

During a virtual town hall meeting, cityhood legislation sponsors and members of the East Cobb Cityhood Committee took pre-screened questions from the public and sent out a survey for further feedback.

The committee also released biographical details about the cityhood committee members.

“It’s really about self-determination,” said State Rep. Matt Dollar, who introduced a cityhood bill before the end of the 2021 session. “If people in the cities of Marietta and Smyrna have that right, then the citizens of East Cobb should have that right as well.”

Much of the conversation revolved around the pro-cityhood theme of “preservation” of what’s been established in East Cobb—single family homes, limited density and quality-of-life amenities—as other areas of the county are becoming more urbanized and feature mixed-use developments.

“If people want density, they can go to the Cumberland area or Smyrna,” Dollar said. “People in East Cobb live here because they want the suburban lifestyle. They don’t want density.”

Former Cobb school board member Scott Sweeney, a member of the cityhood committee, added that it’s important for East Cobbers to protect “what’s in our back yard.”

The legislation sponsored by Dollar and State Rep. Sharon Cooper—both East Cobb Republicans—is vastly different from a 2019 bill he introduced and that she was lukewarm to support.

Cooper, who said last October she thought the cityhood issue was dead, said that some other Cobb cityhood bills introduced this year—in Lost Mountain and Vinings—also have been spurred by concerns over density.

The five-member Cobb Board of Commissioners, which represents nearly 800,000 people, is currently grasping with major redevelopment cases in East Cobb, including the Johnson Ferry-Shallowford and Sprayberry Crossing areas, that have drawn community opposition.

A city of East Cobb, Cooper argued, “would be people from our neighborhoods, people we live with, making those zoning decisions.”

The new effort scales down the size of the proposed city of East Cobb from more than 100,000 to about 55,000, mainly along the Johnson Ferry Road corridor.

Dollar said feeback he received from 2019 indicated that the initial boundaries were too big, and didn’t lend themselves for a clear community identity.

The new bill calls for a six-member city council, with a mayor and vice mayor to be chosen every other year by the council.

While the 2019 East Cobb cityhood bill would have called for police and fire services, the new legislation is what’s called “city light” and includes planning and zoning, code enforcement and parks and recreation.

Dollar said the “hope here is to be revenue neutral,” meaning no millage rate would need to be established.

“It’s a very stable tax base with light services,” he said. “It is not an expensive endeavor.”

Still, some of the questions addressed at the town hall were over whether a new city would create another layer of government.

Dollar disagreed, saying it was a “shift” in selected services.

The other proposed services, code enforcement and parks and recreation, weren’t discussed much.

There was a mention of the former in reference to the Tokyo Valentino adult retail store that opened on Johnson Ferry Road last summer, and that now tied up in the courts as Cobb County is trying to shut it down.

Dollar said adding parks and recreation “seemed like a good fit,” noting that they’re services offered in the newer cities of Milton and Brookhaven.

The cityhood leaders also said Wednesday that a new financial feasibility study conducted by researchers at Georgia State University will cost an estimated $22,000 and will be ready by July.

Dollar said that what’s happening now is just the beginning of a process, that there’s plenty of time before the 2022 legislative session. The Georgia General Assembly would have to pass the cityhood bill before it would come up for a local referendum next November.

“What I ask people, whether you’re for [cityhood] or against it, is just to keep an open mind,”  Dollar said.

Anyone interested in completing the cityhood survey can do so by clicking here.

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Marietta City Council denies Powers Ferry rezoning requests

Nexus Gardens
A rendering of the proposed Nexus Gardens project on Powers Ferry Road, south of the Marietta Loop.

After months of delays and a torrent of opposition from nearby residents, the Marietta City Council on Wednesday quickly nixed two proposed redevelopment projects in the Powers Ferry Road with little discussion.

By unanimous 7-0 votes, the council rejected rezoning requests by Nexus Gardens and Nexus Marietta for a mixed-use and housing developments, respectively, along either side of the South Marietta Parkway.

The projects would have been built by Macauley Investments, an Atlanta developer, on assembled land parcels owned by real estate investor Ruben McMullan and his related interests.

Several times the rezoning requests were tabled or otherwise delayed, including last month, after the Marietta Planning Commission voted to recommend denial.

Residents who turned out for the meeting implored the council beforehand to reject the rezonings, saying they’re too dense, provide access through their narrow neighborhood streets and will devastate their quality of life.

The Nexus Gardens project, according to Anna Holladay, a resident of nearby Virginia Place, “will ruin the lives of everyone in this neighborhood.”

Cloverdale Heights resident Brian Peters, who lives near the proposed Laurel Park residential project, said he moved from Buckhead a decade ago to to escape “runaway development” and was aghast he was fighting it in Marietta.

“We’ve had enough,” Peters said, referring to the constant delays in the rezoning case. “We’re pushing back. End of story.”

Before Wednesday’s council meeting, Kevin Moore, an attorney for both projects, submitted a revised plan for Laurel Park, scaling down what had been a mainly townhome project of 204 units to 134 units, with 84 townhomes and 50 single-family homes.

He said the Loop corridor between Roswell Road and Interstate 75 hasn’t seen new development in 50 years. The Nexus Gardens project, Moore said, is an opportunity that “would be fantastic for the city and fantastic for the nearby community.”

In addition to the density of the Nexus Marietta project—two five-story apartment buildings totalling 280 units served by a three-story parking deck, a five-story senior-living building with 160 units, 39 townhomes and restaurants and retail space—nearby residents in unincorporated Cobb objected to a single point of access, along Meadowbrook Lane.

City council members were unconvinced of Moore’s claim. Michelle Cooper-Kelly, whose district includes the Nexus Gardens land, told residents that “you guys came together as a community. You’re doing exactly what democracy is designed to do.”

After acknowledging the heavy amount of e-mails she received about that rezoning case, Cooper-Kelly said that “I don’t think this project is right for this community.”

She made a motion to deny the request, and the vote was unanimous with no further discussion.

Council member Joseph Goldstein, whose district includes the Laurel Park property, said even less, commenting that the rezoning proposal was inappropriate” as he made a motion for denial.

None of his other colleagues offered comments before the vote.

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Cobb senior centers to reopen; food distribution program ending

East Cobb Senior Center
Submitted information:

Cobb Senior Services announced that it is planning to welcome more seniors back into its centers. Effective Monday, April 19, the centers will operate Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and add more ongoing activities such as, but not limited to, billiards, table tennis, bridge, needlework and woodcarving. Additionally, the gyms at all five multipurpose centers will be open once again.

NOTE: Registration is still required to participate in all activities, including gym usage. Please visit the center’s pages for listings of added ongoing activities through https://www.CobbSeniors.org.

On Monday, May 3, registration for Spring classes will open with classes beginning May 10. A list of classes offered at the centers may be found on each center’s page beginning Friday, April 16. Please note that registration for classes and all activities is only available by telephone or online using My Active Center. If you do not have an account with MAC, please call the center near you for assistance.

For your safety, the following protocols will remain in place:

  • Masks are required to be worn inside all CSS facilities, except when actively exercising
  • Your temperature will be screened upon arrival
  • COVID-related questions will be asked upon arrival
  • Water fountains and bottle fillers are closed

Please contact Senior Services at 770-528-5355 or [email protected] If you have any questions, updated information may be found at https://www.CobbSeniors.org.

Also:

Cobb Senior Services is hosting its last food distribution event from 11 a.m. to noon (or while supplies last) Friday, April 16. Residents age 60 and older are encouraged to get shelf stable food at Cobb Senior Services, 1150 Powder Springs St., Marietta. An ID showing date of birth and Cobb County home address for each senior is required upon arrival. No appointment is needed.

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Commissioner Richardson lays out priorities for District 2

Commissioner Richardson priorities
Commissioner Jerica Richardson held her first town hall in virtual format and with a selected audience at the Sewell Mill Library on April 6.

During a town hall address last week, Cobb Commissioner Jerica Richardson laid out her priorities for the rest of 2021 and provided constituents with a review of her first three months in office.

Richardson is a Democrat elected in November to succeed Bob Ott in representing District 2, which includes some of East Cobb, as well as parts of Smyrna and the Cumberland-Vinings area.

She conducted a “priorities tour” since taking office, and came up with nine priorities. The details can be found here, and they include the following:

  • Continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Improving salary, benefits and other conditions for public safety personnel;
  • fiscal responsibility in the upcoming budget process;
  • an environmental agenda with an “environmental justice agreement” and expansion of Keep Cobb Beautiful programs;
  • expanding mobility options, including sidewalk improvements and repaving projects;
  • planning and housing affordability, especially workforce housing;
  • a youth, diversity and inclusion program that includes the creation of a youth board of commissioners and the establishment of a “Little Brazil” community initiative;
  • revitalizing libraries to position them as economic development centers.

She also said that a number of community chats will be scheduled this year to focus on other issues mentioned by constituents, including major zoning decisions, short-term rentals, an increase in violent crime, stormwater management, gun safety and code enforcement.

The topic of East Cobb Cityhood did not come up during the town hall meeting. A renewed effort to incorporate a portion of East Cobb includes legislation that will be considered in 2022, after a previous effort fizzled in 2019.

During her campaign, Richardson said she was opposed to East Cobb Cityhood (as was Fitz Johnson, her Republican opponent).

She recently told East Cobb News that during her priorities tour, she has continued to hear a lot of opposition.

“There’s just not a lot of support for this,” she said.

You can watch a replay of Richardson’s town hall meeting by clicking here.

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Crime Victims’ Rights Week events include Cobb observations

Submitted information:Crime Victims Rights Week

Cobb District Attorney Flynn D. Broady, Jr. announces that several events are planned to mark National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 18-24. This year’s theme is “Support Victims. Build Trust. Engage Communities.”

“Victims suffer emotionally, physically, and financially from the criminal acts committed against them. As a community and as service providers, we have an obligation to recognize the impact of crime on victims and to provide resources and assistance to help victims heal,” said Kim McCoy, Director of the Victim Witness Assistance Unit in the Cobb DA’s Office. “This week of recognition and these planned events reinforce the commitment of this office to serve crime victims with dignity, respect, and honor and to engage community partners in the continuation of victim services, to build trust, and to engage the entire community in these efforts.”

This year marks the 40th anniversary of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. First designated by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, National Crime Victims’ Rights Week increases public awareness of, and knowledge about the wide range of rights and services available to people who have been victimized by crime.

Local Crime Victims’ Rights Week events will include:

April 13 – The Cobb Board of Commissioners will present a proclamation to mark Cobb County Crime Victims’ Rights Week during the Commission’s 9 a.m. meeting at 100 Cherokee St. in Marietta. Meetings are shown on cable TV; on the county’s website, www.cobbcounty.org; and on the Cobb County Government YouTube channel.

April 18 – The Crime Victims Advocacy Council and First Baptist Church, Decatur, will host the 31st Annual Homicide Memorial, from 3-5 p.m. outside at the church, 308 Clairemont Ave., Decatur. Please RSVP at www.cvaconline.org. DA Broady will be speaking at this event.

April 22, 1 p.m. – Georgia’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and partner agencies will host a virtual ceremony. Visit Georgia.cjcc.gov by April 15 to register. 

April 24 – Premiere of “Run for Justice,” a virtual 5K run/walk fund-raiser to benefit liveSAFE Resources, Inc. and SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center. This year, participation is limited to our office and partner agencies, though our goal is to make this is annual public event beginning in 2022.

In addition, Cobb recently embarked on a multi-year project to establish a Family Justice Center to better serve victims of domestic and interpersonal family violence, child and elder abuse, and human trafficking. Project partners will attend the 21st Annual International Family Justice Center Conference, hosted by the Alliance for Hope.

Cobb’s FJC Site Coordinator TaNesha McAuley is also conducting several Listening Tours with community partners to learn about the services they provide to victims, and providing education on the FJC model.

The Listening Tour will ultimately expand into our Cobb communities as residents are invited to be part of the planning, development, and implementation of Cobb’s FJC. For FJC updates, visit www.cobbda.com or email [email protected].

Residents can stay informed about events, and look for a series of brief videos for Crime Victims’ Rights Week, on Facebook, @cobbda.

For information about national efforts to promote 2021 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, visit the Office for Victims of Crime website at www.ovc.gov and the National Organization for Victim Assistance at www.trynova.org/ncvrw.

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Georgia DPH suspending Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines

The Georgia Department of Public Health on Tuesday announced that it is temporarily stopping the administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.Georgia DPH, Cobb County Coronavirus case

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control have urged a halt after blood clot side effects were reported in six known cases. Johnson & Johnson has distributed more than 7 million doses of the single-dose vaccine.

The FDA-CDC statement said all six cases of blood clotting occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination.

Johnson & Johnson is one of three COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, and has more than 330,000 doses that have been allocated Georgia, according to the DPH vaccine dashboard.

More than 3 million Pfizer vaccines have been distributed in the state, along with more than 2.8 million of the Moderna vaccines.

In Cobb County, nearly 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered, with more than 116,000 residents, or 16 percent, fully vaccinated, according to Cobb and Douglas Public Health director Dr. Janet Memark.

She told the Cobb Board of Commissioners Tuesday that “I am grateful that they are looking at the safety of this as we go along. . . . This is very rare right now.”

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Kemp touts Georgia’s ‘resilience’ in response to COVID-19

Kemp Georgia COVID-19 response

Still chastened by Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game away from nearby Truist Park, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp told a Cobb Chamber of Commerce audience Monday that the Atlanta Braves were also robbed on the field Sunday night.

“The refs screwed us at the Braves game Sunday night,” Kemp said, a reference to a controversial ninth-inning run by the Philadelphia Phillies that was upheld on a video review, and turned out to be the game-winner.

Kemp quickly moved on to assessing the state of the state, and especially its economic recovery and COVID-19 response, during the Cobb Chamber’s annual meeting at the Cobb Galleria.

During an appearance Saturday at AJ’s Famous Seafood and Poboys in East Cobb, Kemp blamed Democrats for MLB’s relocation of the All-Star Game due to Georgia’s disputed new election law.

On Monday, he defended the law and said the All-Star Game decision was “misguided.”

But “despite the actions by some to torpedo economic growth in the Peach State,” Kemp said, he’ll be eager to sign a new law providing tax incentives for Georgia companies that manufacture personal protective equipment.

The benefits of such measures, he insisted during a luncheon speech, “will expand opportunities for citizens across our state . . . . despite measures to try to divide us.”

(You can watch Kemp’s full address by clicking here; his remarks begin at the 37-minute mark.)

He said Georgians have “overcome a lot together and our future is bright.” While challenges remain, “I have never been more optimistic because we on our way to defeating the virus and returning to normal in the Peach State.

“Our resilience as Georgians has carried us this far,” Kemp said.

As of Monday afternoon, there have been more than 862,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia since March 2020, and more than 17,000 deaths.

In Cobb County, there have been more than 59,000 cases and 932 deaths, the second-highest total in the state.

Kemp applauded Cobb officials and the Georgia National Guard for quarantining passengers from a California cruise ship at the start of the pandemic.

He said while some states wouldn’t take their own citizens for quarantine at the time, “this community stepped up. This is who we are as a state.”

Georgia was one of the first states to begin lifting COVID restrictions last April, and Kemp said the state is on the road to a strong economic recovery as a result.

The state has maintained its AAA bond rating, and in the recent legislative session major budget cuts were avoided and some funding was restored to areas such as education, public safety and health care.

A tax cut with a reduction in the standard deduction was also enacted this year, and Kemp said he also was proud of reforms to the state’s citizens arrest law.

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Cobb Senior Citizen Council to have virtual legislative forum

Submitted information:Cobb Senior Citizen Council legislative forum

The Senior Citizen Council of Cobb County (SCC) invites all interested persons to a Zoom discussion of senior issues with their Cobb County based state legislators. This Cobb County Legislative Senior Issues Forum will take place on Friday, April 16 at 11 AM. 

Senator Kay Kirkpatrick, Senator Michael Rhett, and Representative Mary Frances Williams will join other legislators to listen to and answer the concerns of Cobb seniors. Among the likely issues to be covered are affordable healthcare, transportation, housing, homecare services, oversight of assisted living communities and nursing homes, and elder adult protections. Irene Barton, Executive Director of Cobb Collaborative, and the SCC will be moderators of the forum.

The event is free and open to all. Persons who are interested should go to the SCC website at https://seniorcitizencouncilofcobb.org/ where they can find further information and obtain the Zoom link to join the forum discussion on Friday. 

Questions about the event and to sign up for the free SCC monthly e-bulletin devoted to senior issues and resources, please phone 423.815.1790 or email [email protected].

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The Avenue East Cobb reschedules Spring Festival for Wednesday

The Avenue East Cobb spring festival

Submitted information about The Avenue East Cobb’s rescheduled Spring Festival, which was rained out in March:

Spring has sprung with a unique Touchless 2D Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt!

Visit the Balloon Artist, Caricature Artist, mini-Farmers Market and a DIY EASTER BUNNY photo in the Butterfly Chair!

The first 100 kids to return the scavenger hunt sheet receive a coupon for either a free SMALLCAKES cupcake or free 5oz. MENCHIES frozen yogurt!

Visit the red Avenue tent when you arrive to pick up your scavenger hunt sheet. The first 100 kids receive a cookie from PANERA!

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