Inside a Georgia hospital’s ICU, medical staff wages war against COVID

Jennifer E. Engen

Once a patient is sick enough to be admitted into ICU, there’s little difference between the delta variant and the omicron variant, health care workers say.

”I feel like it’s the same,” said Brandy Harris, also an ICU nurse at the Braselton hospital. “The patients are just as sick with omicron as they were with delta and the original COVID-19.”

ExploreHow hospitals are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic

Under a maze of machines, tubes and wires, patients are wrestling with everything from dangerously low oxygen levels to heart problems to organ failure. Some are on the brink of death.

And even though there are experts who say the number of new diagnoses may have peaked in the state, the patients keep coming. Clement thinks that would surprise many of the Georgians who aren’t as worried about omicron.

“You wish you could take people along with you for one just day,” she said as she paused to talk to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter who was allowed to observe a day in her ICU, “so they could see the devastating reality that COVID truly is.”

Caption

Registered nurses Brandy Harris confers with Kari Ruis, right, at the Intensive Care Unit. “It’s super busy,” said Harris, who has been a nurse for 21 years. “Wearing this mask all day, it is warm. In and out of the rooms all day. Gloves and gowns, and cleaning each piece of equipment you use with a Covid patient. Lots of procedures. Putting a permanent airway in a patient today because he’s been intubated for some time. . .The patients are just as sick with omicron with delta, and the original COVID-19.” (Hyosub Shin / [email protected]).

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Registered nurses Brandy Harris confers with Kari Ruis, right, at the Intensive Care Unit. "It's super busy," said Harris, who has been a nurse for 21 years. "Wearing this mask all day, it is warm. In and out of the rooms all day. Gloves and gowns, and cleaning each piece of equipment you use with a Covid patient. Lots of procedures. Putting a permanent airway in a patient today because he's been intubated for some time. . .The patients are just as sick with omicron with delta, and the original COVID-19." (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com).

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

caption arrowCaption

Registered nurses Brandy Harris confers with Kari Ruis, right, at the Intensive Care Unit. “It’s super busy,” said Harris, who has been a nurse for 21 years. “Wearing this mask all day, it is warm. In and out of the rooms all day. Gloves and gowns, and cleaning each piece of equipment you use with a Covid patient. Lots of procedures. Putting a permanent airway in a patient today because he’s been intubated for some time. . .The patients are just as sick with omicron with delta, and the original COVID-19.” (Hyosub Shin / [email protected]).

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

‘We feel pretty defeated’

Roughly a dozen registered nurses and two doctors are assigned to the Braselton hospital’s second-floor ICU wing. Most of the time, it’s oddly quiet except for the sounds of hissing oxygen, beeping monitors and Chuck Beckman.

Beckman, a therapeutic musician, sits in a chair, his back against a wall, and softly strums a guitar to provide comfort as the medical staff move in and out of rooms.

On this day, Clement is a support nurse, helping administer medication, bathe patients and attend to other needs. She came into the medical profession shortly before the pandemic started.

She feels the frustration that many health care workers have expressed — that too many people are still debating whether it’s worth it to get vaccinated, even though the best evidence shows it is; that too many people are balking at wearing masks; that too many people still aren’t taking the virus seriously.

caption arrowCaption

Registered nurse Haley Clement feels the frustration that many health care workers have expressed — that too many people are still debating whether it’s worth it to get vaccinated, even though the best evidence shows it is; that too many people are balking at wearing masks; that too many people still aren’t taking the virus seriously. (Hyosub Shin / [email protected])

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Registered nurse Haley Clement feels the frustration that many health care workers have expressed — that too many people are still debating whether it’s worth it to get vaccinated, even though the best evidence shows it is; that too many people are balking at wearing masks; that too many people still aren’t taking the virus seriously. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

caption arrowCaption

Registered nurse Haley Clement feels the frustration that many health care workers have expressed — that too many people are still debating whether it’s worth it to get vaccinated, even though the best evidence shows it is; that too many people are balking at wearing masks; that too many people still aren’t taking the virus seriously. (Hyosub Shin / [email protected])

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

“It’s a battle that you’re not quite sure how to conquer. We feel pretty defeated,” Clement said. “We’ve worked really, really hard over the last two years to try and cure these people, keep these people alive. And we have not been as successful as we would like. So, when another surge comes around, you just feel defeated. You want to give it your all, but you know you know your all hasn’t always been good enough.”

The rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths slowed after the delta wave died down. But it didn’t last long. Every day for the past week, the state has reported an average of 75 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 deaths.

Before the pandemic, a code blue emergency — which means a patient is in cardiac or respiratory arrest — would take place maybe two times a week in the Braselton ICU. Now, with the unit overflowing with COVID-19 patients, it’s more like twice a day.

caption arrowCaption

Dr. Hisham Qutob rushes to check on patients at the Intensive Care Unit of Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Braselton. “I think for physicians, nurses, and non-medical people, we are all just about ready to be done with this,” he says. “But I think the question that is out there and I have an answer for this, is what does a post-pandemic life like look like if this virus never goes away?” (Hyosub Shin / [email protected])

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Dr. Hisham Qutob rushes to check on patients at the Intensive Care Unit of Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Braselton. "I think for physicians, nurses, and non-medical people, we are all just about ready to be done with this," he says. "But I think the question that is out there and I have an answer for this, is what does a post-pandemic life like look like if this virus never goes away?" (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

caption arrowCaption

Dr. Hisham Qutob rushes to check on patients at the Intensive Care Unit of Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Braselton. “I think for physicians, nurses, and non-medical people, we are all just about ready to be done with this,” he says. “But I think the question that is out there and I have an answer for this, is what does a post-pandemic life like look like if this virus never goes away?” (Hyosub Shin / [email protected])

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

‘They are in disbelief’

Dr. Hisham Qutob, a pulmonologist and critical care physician, has worked seven days straight, from 6:45 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. At times during surges like this, he’s been on for as many as 21 days straight. Right now, he’s left with little time for his own family.

It often feels like he’s in a war, constantly triaging, constantly delivering hard-to-hear news.

Patients and their loved ones are often surprised that omicron packs such a wallop, said Qutob.

“I think there is sometimes this feeling of ‘It can’t happen to me,’” he said. “They are in disbelief.”

Overall, unvaccinated patients make up about 70% of the intensive care unit admissions at Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s hospitals. The ICU patients who are vaccinated tend to be people who are immunocompromised – meaning their immune systems were already weakened by diseases such as cancer, autoimmune disorders or by immunosuppressant drugs.

Unvaccinated COVID-19 patients are far more likely to end up on life support, Qutob said.

caption arrowCaption

Registered nurse Kari Ruis works on a computer as she monitors her patient at the Intensive Care Unit. This past year during the pandemic, she took up long distance running to help fight the stress from the job. She sometimes runs with her colleagues. She recently ran a half-marathon. “It’s just a good way to go and get it all out, my frustration and put it into exercise and running,” she said. (Hyosub Shin / [email protected])

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Registered nurse Kari Ruis works on a computer as she monitors her patient at the Intensive Care Unit. This past year during the pandemic, she took up long distance running to help fight the stress from the job. She sometimes runs with her colleagues. She recently ran a half-marathon. "It's just a good way to go and get it all out, my frustration and put it into exercise and running," she said. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

caption arrowCaption

Registered nurse Kari Ruis works on a computer as she monitors her patient at the Intensive Care Unit. This past year during the pandemic, she took up long distance running to help fight the stress from the job. She sometimes runs with her colleagues. She recently ran a half-marathon. “It’s just a good way to go and get it all out, my frustration and put it into exercise and running,” she said. (Hyosub Shin / [email protected])

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

“Still hard”

ICU nurse Kari Ruis is typically assigned to two critically ill patients at a time. But, this day, she’ll be concentrating on one: a middle-aged man facing multi-organ failure.

He’s undergoing continuous renal replacement therapy, a special type of dialysis for unstable patients. The around-the-clock treatment removes waste and fluid from the body.

Days earlier, the otherwise healthy man was at home, weathering what seemed like relatively mild cold-like symptoms. But he took a sharp turn for the worse. By the time he got to the hospital, his condition was already dire.

“We hope he’s going to get better,” said Ruis. “He’s not on a ventilator, so that’s a positive.”

She paused. “Still hard,” she said quietly.

The patient developed a gastrointestinal bleed that required a blood transfusion.

5,060 — The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 statewide. The pandemic peak was more than 6,000 in September during the delta surge.

29.3% — The percentage of hospitalized patients classified as COVID-19 patients.

87.9% — Inpatient beds in use statewide.

89.3% — ICU beds in use statewide.

77 — The seven-day daily rolling average of confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths reported in Georgia as of Wednesday, up 157% since Dec. 1

In Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton

88 — Number of patients hospitalized for COVID

24 — Total ICU beds in use (18 for COVID-19 patients)

100% — ICU beds in use

Note: The statistics above are based on state data available on Wednesday.

Wearing shiny black clogs and a yellow face mask, she is in and out of his room, all day, checking vital signs that aren’t improving as quickly as she would like.

Ruis is getting to know her patient. He’s awake and alert. He talks about his family, especially his children.

Connecting with COVID-19 patients in the intensive care units is often tinged with sadness.

“I try to get to know things about their family and just talk to them and just find common ground and build that good relationship,” said nurse Jordan Davis. “And in the back of your head, you know that things aren’t looking good.”

In the ICU, problems can mount quickly – cardiovascular issues, blood clots in the lungs, kidney shut-downs.

ExplorePhotos: Inside an ICU during the omicron outbreak

Just as it has been throughout the pandemic, the ICU family waiting room is empty.

Because the virus is so contagious, visiting restrictions remain in place at hospitals, though exceptions are made for end-of-life care.

“It’s really hard for patients to be alone,” said Ruis. “Before the pandemic, they would be able to have families for support. They could lean on us. Now it’s Zoom calls and FaceTime and phone calls, and you hear the family members crying over the phone. It’s really hard to be the one to tell family members you can’t come in, it’s a policy. It’s hard to watch people suffer alone.”

A special calling

For Davis, who is 23, her induction to the nursing profession coincided with the pandemic. When Davis was planning her career, this is not what she expected.

At times, with some patients, “nothing looks good,” she said. Even if they are placed on a ventilator and given supplemental oxygen to help them breathe, “We can’t give them enough oxygen in the world to be able to help them. The ventilator only goes to 100%. That’s all that exists,” she said.

ExploreComplete coverage of COVID-19 in Georgia

She feels a special calling and purpose in nursing. She was inspired to become a nurse by her mother, who has dedicated 35 years to the profession.

She and the rest of the staff take solace in the victories when patients leave ICU to go into regular hospital rooms and are released to go home. She said it’s gratifying, and it’s also proof of “why it’s so important to work as hard as we do.”

And they steel themselves for the cases that won’t end well.

As Ruis’ shift comes to an end, she shakes her head when asked about her patient.

He’s not doing well, she said. He may not make it to her next shift.

Staff writer J. Scott Trubey contributed to this story.

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"},{"_id":"6VIMF57OIVHVTKFNGYZPWG7HGQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"Verte announced Monday that it will add to operations it already has in Henry with new workers in the former Snapper/Briggs and Stratton plant on Ga. 42 in McDonough. Verte’s current facility in Liberty Industrial Park employs more than 200 people. "},{"_id":"CFCQPAGHRNA7PIG5LOJDLV2DC4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"“Verte is thrilled about our relationship with the city of McDonough and Henry County and as a startup, we value both the workforce and the talent here,” Steve Bullard, the company’s executive vice president of operations said. “As an e-commerce technology company, we are excited to continue bringing quality jobs and innovation to Henry County.”"},{"_id":"JWHPCIXCMFFJ7IVAZIG3MIAF2Y","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"The Snapper/Briggs and Stratton plant was one of Henry County’s largest employers and Verte will be the first long-term tenant in the building since the facility closed, the county said in a news release announcing the deal."},{"_id":"MCOWJBQMTBA5HFRVKUNMIH2SNQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"“Henry County is excited that Verte has decided to choose Henry and expand in McDonough,” Henry Commission Chairwoman Carlotta Harrell said. “The selection of the old Snapper building is welcomed news and a great statement when an advanced supply chain technology firm reinvests in our community.” "}],"display_date":"2022-02-01T11:24:00Z","headlines":{"basic":"Atlanta supply chain company bringing 100 new jobs to McDonough"},"first_publish_date":"2022-02-01T11:24:00.347Z","taxonomy":{"sections":[{"path":"/news/atlanta-news","parent":{"default":"/news"},"_website":"ajc","parent_id":"/news","name":"Local News","description":"Atlanta Georgia city and county news, as well as Georgia state and regional news at ajc.com","_id":"/news/atlanta-news","additional_properties":{"original":{"parent":{"AmpNav":"/news","default":"/news","BottomNav":null,"TopNavRedesign":null,"SectionMap":"https://www.ajc.com/","MainMenuRedesign2021":"/news","TopNav":null,"ComposerNav":"https://www.ajc.com/"},"site":{"section_comments_enabled":"Yes","site_description":"Atlanta Georgia city and county news, as well as Georgia state and regional news at ajc.com","site_title":"Atlanta Local News"},"navigation":{"nav_title":"Local News"},"inactive":false,"node_type":"section","_website":"ajc","name":"Local News","Sponsor":{"sponsor_url_open_new_tab":"true","sponsor_desktop_banner":"","sponsor_mobile_banner":"","sponsor_url":""},"_id":"/news/atlanta-news","ancestors":{"TopNavRedesign":[],"SectionMap":["https://www.ajc.com/"],"MainMenuRedesign2021":["https://www.ajc.com/","/news"],"TopNav":[]},"order":{"AmpNav":2004,"default":2004,"SectionMap":1074,"MainMenuRedesign2021":2004,"ComposerNav":1083}}},"_website_section_id":"ajc./news/atlanta-news","type":"section","version":"0.6.0"},{"path":"/news","parent":{"default":"https://www.ajc.com/"},"_website":"ajc","parent_id":"https://www.ajc.com/","name":"News","description":"Atlanta Georgia News main page: Breaking News, Atlanta Weather Forecast, Crime, Politics, GA Schools, Local Articles - 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He has trained hundreds of journalists in newsrooms in the United States and Canada since 2017 and provides training to journalists worldwide in data journalism, investigative reporting and access to information through public records."},{"_id":"ZZGBDZTDKZDWNGW7WMOR3AOVKI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643399533784},"type":"text","content":"He also is a co-residency director for the Dow Jones News Fund’s data journalism internship program."},{"_id":"YRAHK4CFWVF5VPN7JKB23Y3OKQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643399533785},"type":"text","content":"Before joining IRE, Charles worked as a multimedia artist, focusing on data journalism, at the Orlando Sentinel. While at the Sentinel, he reported on the 2016 election, the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting, and the Orlando Police Department. His data analysis and reporting on use of force by the Orlando Police Department was recognized by the Florida Society of News Editors, the Florida Bar Association and the Online Journalism Awards."},{"_id":"W5KP2ND2XNFJVGCDX7FM7PHOYM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643399533786},"type":"text","content":"Charles has a master’s degree in journalism from the Missouri School of Journalism and a bachelor of science degree in political science from Georgia Southern University. He grew up in Rochelle, in Wilcox County, Georgia."},{"_id":"6JJUNNOYXJGOVJORUVSHN5V3P4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643399533787},"type":"text","content":"The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the leading journalism organization in the Southeast, focuses its reporting staff on local matters and closely monitors state and local governments, the local economy, entertainment and sports."},{"_id":"FVQJSLQ3JJE6HN4RCP443N5MRU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643399533788},"type":"text","content":"Its journalists uncover the truth, protect the public’s right to know and hold community leaders accountable for serving the public. Reporters, editors and photographers aggressively document the region’s moments, milestones and people. Every day, whether in print or on its digital and social platforms, inform and empower its readers who value credible, in-depth journalism."},{"_id":"EWHLY5N2AVC7NABDZTVNVVWR4U","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643399533789},"type":"text","content":"Minshew can be reached at [email protected]"},{"_id":"CQYP7TCX6JFKREBJX3LQXDDJ44","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643399533790},"type":"text","content":"
"}],"display_date":"2022-02-01T11:06:00Z","headlines":{"basic":"Charles Minshew joins Atlanta Journal-Constitution as Digital storytelling Editor"},"first_publish_date":"2022-02-01T11:06:00.344Z","taxonomy":{"sections":[{"path":"/news/atlanta-news","parent":{"default":"/news"},"_website":"ajc","parent_id":"/news","name":"Local News","description":"Atlanta Georgia city and county news, as well as Georgia state and regional news at ajc.com","_id":"/news/atlanta-news","additional_properties":{"original":{"parent":{"AmpNav":"/news","default":"/news","BottomNav":null,"TopNavRedesign":null,"SectionMap":"https://www.ajc.com/","MainMenuRedesign2021":"/news","TopNav":null,"ComposerNav":"https://www.ajc.com/"},"site":{"section_comments_enabled":"Yes","site_description":"Atlanta Georgia city and county news, as well as Georgia state and regional news at ajc.com","site_title":"Atlanta Local News"},"navigation":{"nav_title":"Local News"},"inactive":false,"node_type":"section","_website":"ajc","name":"Local News","Sponsor":{"sponsor_url_open_new_tab":"true","sponsor_desktop_banner":"","sponsor_mobile_banner":"","sponsor_url":""},"_id":"/news/atlanta-news","ancestors":{"TopNavRedesign":[],"SectionMap":["https://www.ajc.com/"],"MainMenuRedesign2021":["https://www.ajc.com/","/news"],"TopNav":[]},"order":{"AmpNav":2004,"default":2004,"SectionMap":1074,"MainMenuRedesign2021":2004,"ComposerNav":1083}}},"_website_section_id":"ajc./news/atlanta-news","type":"section","version":"0.6.0"},{"path":"/news","parent":{"default":"https://www.ajc.com/"},"_website":"ajc","parent_id":"https://www.ajc.com/","name":"News","description":"Atlanta Georgia News main page: Breaking News, Atlanta Weather Forecast, Crime, Politics, GA Schools, Local Articles - Atlanta Journal-Constitution","_id":"/news","additional_properties":{"original":{"parent":{"AmpNav":"https://www.ajc.com/","default":"https://www.ajc.com/","BottomNav":null,"TopNavRedesign":null,"SectionMap":"https://www.ajc.com/","LoggedOutMenu":null,"MainMenuRedesign2021":"https://www.ajc.com/","TopNav":null,"TopicsBar":null,"ComposerNav":"https://www.ajc.com/"},"site":{"site_url":"/news/","section_comments_enabled":"Yes","site_description":"Atlanta Georgia News main page: Breaking News, Atlanta Weather Forecast, Crime, Politics, GA Schools, Local Articles - Atlanta Journal-Constitution","site_title":"Atlanta GA News | Top News Page"},"navigation":{"nav_title":"News"},"inactive":false,"node_type":"section","_website":"ajc","name":"News","Sponsor":{"sponsor_url_open_new_tab":"true","sponsor_desktop_banner":"","sponsor_mobile_banner":"","sponsor_url":""},"_id":"/news","ancestors":{"AmpNav":["https://www.ajc.com/"],"default":["https://www.ajc.com/"],"BottomNav":[],"TopNavRedesign":[],"SectionMap":["https://www.ajc.com/"],"LoggedOutMenu":[],"MainMenuRedesign2021":["https://www.ajc.com/"],"TopicsBar":[]},"order":{"AmpNav":1001,"default":1001,"SectionMap":1018,"MainMenuRedesign2021":1002,"ComposerNav":1137}}},"_website_section_id":"ajc./news","type":"section","version":"0.6.0"}],"primary_section":{"path":"/news/atlanta-news","name":"Local News"},"tags":[{"text":"localnews.ajc"},{"text":"atlanta-neighborhoods.ajc"},{"text":"intown atlanta"},{"text":"clayton county"},{"text":"cobb county"},{"text":"dekalb county"},{"text":"north fulton"},{"text":"south fulton county"},{"text":"gwinnett county"}]},"type":"story","last_updated_date":"2022-02-01T11:06:00.337Z","promo_items":{"basic":{"credits":{"affiliation":[],"by":[{"name":"Special ","type":"author","byline":"Special "}]},"subtitle":"Charles Minshew","width":1000,"caption":"Charles Minshew","type":"image","url":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/2YBS26BK4ZDBXMCOCXBCXNJMZU.jpg","height":563}},"canonical_url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/charles-minshew-joins-atlanta-journal-constitution-as-digital-storytelling-editor/27IXI2GFZBH3LEKAD2AYAEEWFU/","_id":"27IXI2GFZBH3LEKAD2AYAEEWFU"},{"content_elements":[{"_id":"DIXWVOKJA5GKBHNW6FAIUBQIUA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643661761316},"type":"text","content":"The highly contagious omicron variant has pushed the daily average U.S. COVID-19 death toll higher than last fall’s delta wave as the nation nears a chilling milestone of 900,000 coronavirus deaths."},{"_id":"TNUOW4XK2VDMROLDXDSM7KJD5Q","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643661761317},"type":"text","content":"The average number of deaths reported each day in Georgia has been growing, too. But it remains unclear if Georgia will surpass the peak that followed the devastating surge of the earlier delta variant. Two health experts interviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday seemed divided on whether the state has yet to reach its peak number of deaths or if the death toll has already begun to wane."},{"_id":"ZPQ4HHOWA5E3LLCZJPX55BCGM4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643661761319},"type":"text","content":"The seven-day rolling average of confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths on Monday in Georgia stood at 87 as measured by date of report. That’s about two-thirds of the way to the delta peak of 133 deaths by date of report, which was set in early October."},{"_id":"TNUOW4XK2VDMROLDXDSM7KJD5Q","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643661761318},"type":"text","content":"The seven-day rolling average of deaths reported in the U.S. during the delta surge peaked at about 2,100 in late September. The rolling average was 2,524 on Sunday, according to data from the New York Times."},{"_id":"VZEL7T3MBZA7TKGMA6VZY4TOIM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643661761320},"type":"text","content":"Deaths are a lagging indicator of the coronavirus. Omicron is highly contagious, though it produces severe disease in a smaller percentage of overall infections compared to previous strains. Omicron was first detected in Georgia in early December."},{"_id":"OW77ALWB2FC7BPYO4IWOYEOETY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643661761321},"type":"text","content":"Public health experts have warned omicron’s rapid spread make it a threat, bringing overwhelming patient loads to many hospitals across Georgia. Since the pandemic began, Georgia has reported 27,595 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and another 5,381 deemed probable for the disease."},{"_id":"GHERFUICXBHH5EBQMLOONFWKRA","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"E4GILIEWA5GFVLFV7YV3N7FQ6U"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Complete coverage of COVID-19 in Georgia","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/coronavirus/"},{"_id":"2LLA37YREJH5NLNKOGWZDJFAZQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643651790838},"type":"text","content":"As of Monday afternoon, 884,368 people in the U.S. had died of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University data, with 74.3 million infected."},{"_id":"5C3FZGD4AJH67DJVQ6X3BHFVTA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643661761326},"type":"text","content":"The 1 million deaths mark is likely on the horizon. Dr. Felipe Lobelo, an epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, said official death counts are widely considered to be an undercount of the true toll, and the U.S. likely already surpassed that number."},{"_id":"PFXLYCBUQZEUBMPOOF5XUQUVEM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643657930023},"type":"text","content":"“We all want this to be over,” said Lobelo about the pandemic. “But if you have 50 people dying in Georgia every day from COVID and close to 2,500 people in the U.S., obviously we are not done. And the fact that the bulk of these deaths could have been prevented by simply having three doses of the vaccine, that, to me is mind-boggling and upsetting but that is the reality.”"},{"_id":"ZN5XKLKNM5DIPM7MPLPJ4GDKLE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643648211872},"type":"text","content":"Omicron appears to generally cause less severe illness than previous variants especially for those who are vaccinated. But the number of people dying from omicron has been steadily rising over recent weeks because this variant is spreading rapidly and infecting such a large number of people."},{"_id":"5EIRRHREDVDSXAHOLGWPRPITX4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643661761329},"type":"text","content":"The unvaccinated, immunocompromised and people with underlying comorbidities such as heart disease and diabetes remain especially vulnerable."},{"_id":"HG2KI324BRCYRPMSONDAH6VHQE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643648211873},"type":"text","content":"Here are key points about the increasing number of deaths in Georgia and a closer look at the trend line."},{"_id":"JZ73MXXW6VB7VOST6Q3FHY5PXQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643648211876},"type":"text","content":"How the number of omicron deaths compares to delta wave."},{"_id":"5GSDPFRNHBGB5JL45PNKZKIDKM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643661761333},"type":"text","content":"There are two ways to look at deaths: deaths by the day they were reported and deaths by date of death."},{"_id":"5BKR35YG6FFTFDDYACCOGZCN3Y","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643661761334},"type":"text","content":"The seven-day rolling average of deaths in Georgia by the day they were reported by the Georgia Department of Public Health stood at 87 on Wednesday."},{"_id":"6QNFTN5SRFCMTDNMPRFX3FYJVQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643661761335},"type":"text","content":"Another way to look at deaths is by date of death. It takes time to verify deaths and when they occurred, and data in the most recent weeks is often incomplete. But through Jan. 17, the rolling average of confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths by date of death is 50, or about one-third of the delta wave peak. But again, that data is likely to change in the weeks ahead."},{"_id":"EGSLZMBNGFH75NQ6BY2NK2DFAQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643648211877},"type":"text","content":"Unclear if the number of COVID-19 deaths have peaked in Georgia. Amber Schmidtke, a public health researcher who tracks Georgia’s coronavirus epidemic in her widely read newsletter, said it is too soon to declare Georgia past its peak of deaths. It’s unclear how high the number of deaths might go in the state, but Schmidtke said it’s possible deaths could match those reported in the delta wave."},{"_id":"O7ZOTBNHZRFBPEBLL4YECD3CGM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643653100247},"type":"text","content":"”I would not be surprised if we ultimately reach that point,” she said."},{"_id":"P6JBGOQPOBGM5NOI3XC77R7BNQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643653100248},"type":"text","content":"It often takes weeks between when someone becomes infected with the coronavirus, seeks hospital care, and ultimately succumbs to COVID-19."},{"_id":"ZKWBWKZJRZFUJPCD2NJZB5IQTQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643653100249},"type":"text","content":"The rolling average of new infections has come down about one-third from the most recent high on Jan. 11, though the descent has not been as quick as the rapid, record-breaking spike in new infections. Hospitalizations also are falling in Georgia, though they remain elevated."},{"_id":"AUFM4TDZPJAN7OFZRS2UNZKBOA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643653100250},"type":"text","content":"”It’s always a sharp rise, a plateau and a more gradual decline,” Schmidtke said of deaths."},{"_id":"FAV4BBRPVJCGBHLPM7CJYIWJNU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643657930032},"type":"text","content":"A new version of the omicron variant may extend the current wave of infections deaths"},{"_id":"7ATOUZNJXFBCREKOCZ4ABJCS7Q","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[{"pos":524,"comment":"There are still plenty of people who have not yet been infected by the more widely circulating omicron variant and are not vaccinated, putting them at risk, Lobelo said."}],"comments":[],"_id":1643657930033},"type":"text","content":"Lobelo said he believes while Georgia have may have peaked in terms of deaths from omicron, concerns remain about the impact of a new version of the omicron variant known as BA.2. The variant, which has been confirmed in the U.S. but not yet in Georgia, could drag out the omicron surge and lead to a much slower decline of the ongoing wave. According to the virus database GISAID, which scientists use to share sequenced coronavirus samples from around the world, fewer than 200 cases of BA.2 have been detected in the U.S."},{"_id":"Y2SGXUVZINBD3AWC34O5NJ7WDE","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"KFFNCUF4GFAP3L4EBBTONPFYNM"},"type":"divider"},{"_id":"WKGB5O3BAZGPDJH56OTV3WA4NI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[{"pos":0,"comment":"FOR BOX"}],"comments":[],"_id":1643653100251},"type":"text","content":""},{"_id":"RY7OWBNIUVD2NAQDAP2DGRHSKI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643663173441},"type":"text","content":"Poll: Over half of Georgians remain concerned about the pandemic. Close to a third of Georgians – 29% are “very concerned” about another COVID-19 surge, according to a poll conducted for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by the the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs Survey Research Center. Another 28.3% of Georgians are “somewhat concerned.” For the poll, 872 Georgians from across the state who are registered to vote were contacted. Results were released Thursday."},{"_id":"56GW6YFJE5HQZL45E56K3IUFBI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643648211879},"type":"text","content":"
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The agreement would have locked her in to sentencing McMichael and his father, who was supposed to plead guilty next, to 30 years in federal custody."},{"_id":"6R7KHTSCHVEJFMID36KCTZVKK4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643668121732},"type":"text","content":"But after hearing pleas from Arbery’s family, Wood refused to accept the terms of punishment. 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As for the recommended 30 years, she said, “It could be more. It could be less. It could be that.”"},{"_id":"FRKE2O2EWJFIPLQQCJV3SQYAWE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643663191541},"type":"text","content":"In November, the McMichaels and William “Roddie” Bryan were convicted of Arbery’s murder. The McMichaels were sentenced to life in state prison without the possibility of parole; Bryan got life with parole."},{"_id":"O5FBRWDEH5ACXNCJ46NANOMPV4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643668121737},"type":"text","content":"The plea deal would allow the McMichaels to spend their first 24 years in custody — getting some time shaved off for good behavior — in federal prison. Then, they would be transferred into the state prison system."},{"_id":"S2MWC4UZAJAPNP5W4KNA3DF2LE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643668121738},"type":"text","content":"Travis McMichael would be about 60 years old at that time, his father 90 years old."},{"_id":"6MQBGJ4DWFBV3C3KA462XIG3RU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643668121739},"type":"text","content":"Atlanta defense attorney Jack Martin said it’s understandable the McMichaels would prefer federal custody because Greg McMichael is a former law enforcement officer."},{"_id":"6DYUJEPG5NAVHF3YVTAOSDJRIQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643668121740},"type":"text","content":"Ex-officers “could be more vulnerable to being attacked in state custody,” Martin said. “Federal custody can give them a little more protection.”"},{"_id":"C5L4BLHGPRFTNCA4YO6QRY2O3I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643668121741},"type":"text","content":"Jason Sheffield, who represented Travis McMichael in the state trial, pushed back on any assertion that spending time in a federal prison is a good deal. “Anybody who tries to convince the public that one is better than the other or one is cushier than the other has no idea what it’s like to serve time in prison,” he said."},{"_id":"GWVJ6MCZI5GC5FDLOAK4U4LAF4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643668121742},"type":"text","content":"By pleading guilty to one count of their federal indictment, the McMichaels would have acknowledged targeting Arbery because he was Black."},{"_id":"M4UTOCRLK5A73MXRXSENSOSNAY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643663191542},"type":"text","content":"Laying out the government’s case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara Lyons noted that during the five-minute chase, the unarmed Arbery was running with his hands empty and in plain view."},{"_id":"DT5YQS7EFNERTKT2TPN7FHER7I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643663191545},"type":"text","content":"“Travis McMichael did not belong to any hate groups and did not set out on Feb. 23, 2020, to carry out an act of violence against an African-American person,” Lyons said. “But he had made assumptions about Ahmaud Arbery that he would not have made if Ahmaud Arbery had been white.”"},{"_id":"DP6XG3PZLBFWDP3VR5N33KUS3Q","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643663191547},"type":"text","content":"The prosecutor said McMichael had “for years,” through social media posts and in text messages, “associated Black skin with criminality and had harbored resentment toward African-American people.” McMichael had also “expressed a desire to see African-American people, particularly those he viewed as criminals, harmed or killed.”"},{"_id":"IXNGGHSFDZGQ3OJA5R4W3Z3RHY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643663191549},"type":"text","content":"Without those beliefs, Lyons said, McMichael “would not have armed himself and chased down an African-American man he only assumed to be a criminal.”"},{"_id":"6ZDGEWUUGRDSBCBNCUFEKNOCFY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643663191550},"type":"text","content":"Arbery’s relatives pleaded with Wood to reject the plea agreement. Cooper-Jones, referring to Travis McMichael’s testimony at the state court trial, said she’d heard enough."},{"_id":"342OITIVVNDYDMNQE33VIZPZJE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643663339326},"type":"text","content":"“His smug, detached testimony echoed in my head through the new year,” she said. “Believe me, I’ve heard enough from these men. ... It is not fair to take away the victory that I’ve prayed and I’ve fought for. It is not right, and it is not just. It is wrong.”"},{"owner":{"sponsored":false,"id":"ajc"},"address":{},"syndication":{},"caption":"Travis McMichael (left), his father Gregory McMichael and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan were convicted of Arbery's murder in November. 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Black people aren’t going nowhere. We’re going to be here. God created us to be here on this earth. So the world can do without you.”"},{"_id":"DC6TE4PNZBHU5ENAL7J6T2Q5KM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643669170710},"type":"text","content":"He has said he has no doubt his son’s murder was racially motivated and that he was looking forward to evidence of racism being introduced in the upcoming hate crimes trial. Such evidence was largely avoided by the Cobb County prosecutors in the state case last year as they sought to convince a Glynn County jury of 11 white people and one Black man to return guilty verdicts for all three defendants."},{"_id":"PBRO4FNOPRDONB3FXP3O5KEUFE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643669170711},"type":"text","content":"”Anybody with some common sense can see this was a racial hate crime. The facts are there,” Marcus Arbery told the AJC last week. “The whole world saw what happened.”"},{"_id":"AIBMNZ5BHNEM3HAPXRLIJ3GKCY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643669170712},"type":"text","content":"One of the most disturbing things about the video, he said, was the way Travis McMichael turned and walked away as Arbery lay dying in the road. “He showed no remorse for it,” Marcus Arbery said. “He didn’t try to help him or nothing.”"},{"_id":"YIUF6UA55ZH6JHHJ6DFCH5DPLU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643664099034},"type":"text","content":"Two weeks ago, Lyons told Wood, lawyers for the Arberys told federal prosecutors the family would not oppose a plea agreement. Lyons said she now realizes that was not an accurate representation."},{"_id":"CI754HZAXFARJEJ5C7T5MFC3QU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643670282087},"type":"text","content":"But she still stood by the deal, saying “it powerfully advances the larger interests of justice.” And, she added, the guilty pleas entered by the McMichaels could be used against them if their state murder convictions are overturned on appeal."},{"_id":"BYL6LORKNNE3ZID5ATGQDJZ2H4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643668121754},"type":"text","content":"“I’m not up here blaming the family, your honor,” Lyons said."},{"_id":"576HECDM4JHYHDWWRZ3FTVF77I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"In a statement, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said prosecutors consulted with the attorneys for Arbery’s family before extending the plea deal to the McMichaels. "},{"_id":"OSATZQ4IDRGLRGVBAMF2ZDZGWI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"“The Justice Department entered the plea agreement only after the victims’ attorneys informed me that the family was not opposed to it,” Clarke said. “We respect the court’s decision to not accept the sentencing terms of the proposed plea and to continue the hearing until Friday.”"},{"_id":"QFEHVK7A6JAVRHE4X3AGRU546Y","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"Q4FXDM4IWJA5BMX7CFA2K2EQKA"},"type":"divider"},{"_id":"2SLPELWKY5EY7L4IBKMV4OED3I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643669170717},"type":"text","content":"What happens next:"},{"_id":"LSX5AYVSRBHBJBVBYLHKF7UXUI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643669170718},"type":"text","content":"Greg and Travis McMichael have until the end of the week to decide whether to enter guilty pleas or proceed with the federal hate crimes trial."},{"_id":"I6MACD65UVDCVLAKAEF2QFN2SE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643669170719},"type":"text","content":"Prosecutors didn’t mention a plea agreement for Bryan at Monday’s hearing. Lee Merritt, an attorney representing Arbery’s mother, said he believes Bryan will stand trial next week."},{"_id":"3PSCBJRALVGWFL46Y3X5EBOTIM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643669170720},"type":"text","content":"The judge largely expanded the jury pool for the upcoming trial, sending summonses to an estimated 1,000 people from throughout the Southern District of Georgia’s 43-county jurisdiction."}],"display_date":"2022-01-31T23:39:17.380Z","headlines":{"basic":"Judge rejects plea agreement in hate crimes case over Arbery murder"},"first_publish_date":"2022-01-31T21:27:06.629Z","taxonomy":{"sections":[{"path":"/news/atlanta-news","parent":{"default":"/news"},"_website":"ajc","parent_id":"/news","name":"Local News","description":"Atlanta Georgia city and county news, as well as Georgia state and regional news at ajc.com","_id":"/news/atlanta-news","additional_properties":{"original":{"parent":{"AmpNav":"/news","default":"/news","BottomNav":null,"TopNavRedesign":null,"SectionMap":"https://www.ajc.com/","MainMenuRedesign2021":"/news","TopNav":null,"ComposerNav":"https://www.ajc.com/"},"site":{"section_comments_enabled":"Yes","site_description":"Atlanta Georgia city and county news, as well as Georgia state and regional news at ajc.com","site_title":"Atlanta Local News"},"navigation":{"nav_title":"Local News"},"inactive":false,"node_type":"section","_website":"ajc","name":"Local News","Sponsor":{"sponsor_url_open_new_tab":"true","sponsor_desktop_banner":"","sponsor_mobile_banner":"","sponsor_url":""},"_id":"/news/atlanta-news","ancestors":{"TopNavRedesign":[],"SectionMap":["https://www.ajc.com/"],"MainMenuRedesign2021":["https://www.ajc.com/","/news"],"TopNav":[]},"order":{"AmpNav":2004,"default":2004,"SectionMap":1074,"MainMenuRedesign2021":2004,"ComposerNav":1083}}},"_website_section_id":"ajc./news/atlanta-news","type":"section","version":"0.6.0"},{"path":"/news/crime","parent":{"default":"/news"},"_website":"ajc","parent_id":"/news","name":"Crime & Public Safety","description":"Crime in Atlanta: News and issues about crime, criminals, police and personal security in metro Atlanta. 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Their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, who filmed the cellphone video of Arbery collapsing in the street from two shotgun blasts, was given a life sentence with the possibility of parole."},{"_id":"6PW3BMNBVREXHCAKIGY3HR43LI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643608437597},"type":"text","content":"All three men face separate hate crimes charges accusing them of violating Arbery’s civil rights and targeting the 25-year-old because he was Black."},{"_id":"HMJRT2TMMBCU3GUEVSCOITQMAE","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"FCI32WPEGJFH5A3DHLJEICHXN4"},"type":"raw_html","content":""},{"_id":"MZLSOAX2CNFVXD52ILDBJE4FPY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643608437598},"type":"text","content":"On Sunday, however, federal prosecutors filed motions notifying the court they had reached plea agreements with the McMichaels less than a week before their trial was set to begin."},{"_id":"WIW5PQYGBZDDLO66MKVR63CDWI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643608437599},"type":"text","content":"Details of the plea agreements weren’t immediately clear, but the defendants had a pretrial hearing Monday morning in Brunswick. The motions filed Sunday evening say copies of the plea agreements have been submitted to the court and ask the judge to accept the McMichaels’ deals."},{"_id":"QCWXCGFJMNDCPCQA2WVKKSLI3M","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"ZXZM4NLWZJBQXDMDMKUVPQUM2I"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Judge in Arbery death hate crimes case hears racial evidence","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-news/judge-in-arbery-death-hate-crimes-case-hears-racial-evidence/W5DX3JRZFJF7PKCKGWZKY75RQE/"},{"_id":"YC4F3NSVAFEQJAPCNQLYLZWGGE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643608437601},"type":"text","content":"A plea hearing for Travis McMichael is scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday, and a plea hearing for Greg is set for 2:45 p.m."},{"_id":"A7NC7JPUOJCJZBWMBSWCHUNLRM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643646811295},"type":"text","content":"Attorney Lee Merritt, who represents Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones, said the deal would allow the McMichaels to spend the first 30 years of their sentences in “a preferred federal prison” instead of state prison. He said both of Arbery’s parents oppose the deal and have made that clear to the Department of Justice."},{"_id":"WG3EF3Y5PVE7BKJ3NY4QNKY7VM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643646811296},"type":"text","content":"Jason Sheffield, who represented Travis McMichael during the state trial, said the 36-year-old has been working closely with his federal attorney on the plea deal and is “absolutely convinced that this is the right thing for him to do.”"},{"_id":"GBNL4BJCONFDROUS7Y3RWXGKOY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643646811297},"type":"text","content":"In exchange for pleading guilty to the first count in the federal indictment — interfering with Arbery’s rights — the father and son would be sentenced to 30 years in federal custody, Sheffield said."},{"_id":"XWNRVFBVRZDXLFPQKUJGJOUOTM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643646811298},"type":"text","content":"“We’re hoping the time he serves will be at a federal prison based on the programming and availability of resources,” Sheffield said. He noted the federal deal, if accepted by the judge, would still allow Travis McMichael to appeal his conviction in the state case."},{"_id":"6YHVQH62OFFCVNKNSJRE5PRYIA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643648897576},"type":"text","content":"“Most people, rightly so, prefer to be in federal custody than in state custody,” said Atlanta criminal defense attorney Jack Martin, who has followed the case. “That’s especially true for police officers or former police officers who could be more vulnerable to being attacked in state custody. Federal custody can give them a little more protection. I assume that’s what they’re thinking.”"},{"_id":"QE5C5VREZFHTDLTCQC5X6A5YBU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643655089126},"type":"text","content":"Greg McMichael, who initiated the chase that afternoon, was a former Glynn County police officer and later worked as an investigator in the local district attorney’s office"},{"_id":"3OBAKWWG3VGINPGDYT4ZQCMZOE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643648897577},"type":"text","content":"Martin said he expects U.S. District Judge Judge Lisa Godbey Wood to accept the plea regardless if the family opposes it. “Absent extremely extenuating circumstances, if it’s a plea both the prosecution and defense agree to, the judge will take the plea.”"},{"_id":"TVMOF7XATRFQPIDYEUP52DZZKI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643646811299},"type":"text","content":"Sheffield pushed back on the assertion that serving time in a federal prison would be “cushier” for the McMichaels than spending the rest of their lives in a state facility."},{"_id":"VY4QJYWYVZF4LAE4RLHX4322QQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643646811300},"type":"text","content":"“Anybody who tries to convince the public that one is better than the other or one is cushier than the other has no idea what it’s like to serve time in prison,” he said."},{"_id":"R5YHTMSWZNHF3JQSP6WC7K3RFI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643646811301},"type":"text","content":"The McMichaels contended they grabbed their guns and chased the fleeing Arbery because they suspected him of burglarizing a vacant home in their Satilla Shores neighborhood just outside Brunswick. Arbery was seen walking around the home on at least five occasions in the months leading up to his shooting, but there is no evidence he ever stole anything."},{"_id":"QH664RVDAJH5XNMYBSZS6LYDCU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643646811302},"type":"text","content":"His killing led to two major changes in state law. The General Assembly largely repealed Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law and passed a hate crimes statute enhancing sentences for those accused of targeting someone because of their race, gender or sexual orientation."},{"_id":"KU67LKR5DRFULKJMV6TEBK24I4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643646811303},"type":"text","content":"Federal prosecutors had planned to introduce as evidence text messages and previous comments made by the defendants pointing toward racial animus. But Travis McMichael testified last year that he never intended to kill anyone that day."},{"_id":"NNL2FMGR6RFKPHX62KKF6O6OLM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643646811304},"type":"text","content":"“There does exist the possibility, and in Travis’ case I think the probability, that his actions on Feb. 23 were not about the things that he may have said in the past,” Sheffield said. “We believe he acted out of a sense of duty and responsibility to his neighborhood.”"},{"_id":"GITWQ3S2V5EVVF27XRII6ZSC6M","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643608437602},"type":"text","content":"A similar deal previously offered to the McMichaels was rejected by Arbery’s parents earlier this month, they said."},{"owner":{"id":"ajc"},"copyright":"Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved","address":{"locality":"Brunswick","region":"GA"},"caption":" Ahmaud Arbery's mother Wanda Cooper-Jones, center, is surrounded by supporters after Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley sentenced Greg McMichael, his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan to life in prison in the Glynn County Courthouse, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, in Brunswick, Ga. The man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery and his father have reached a plea deal that could avoid their trial on federal hate crime charges. Arbery's parents denounced the deal as a betrayal, and called on the judge to reject it. (AP Photo/Stephen B. 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Glynn County police never made an arrest in the case, and the McMichaels were arrested by the GBI 74 days after the deadly shooting."},{"_id":"HINN74AVKNEDDMKCQWV4DYGZ6E","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643608437606},"type":"text","content":"Federal prosecutors said they planned to introduce “racial-animus evidence” against the three defendants at their upcoming trial. Such evidence likely would have included text messages, social media posts and Bryan’s statement to the GBI that Travis McMichael used a racist slur while standing over the dying Arbery in the street."},{"_id":"B4UNMZ4IE5BC5EO5HK5KCBTSAI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643608437607},"type":"text","content":"At a June 2020 pretrial hearing in the state’s murder case, GBI agent Richard Dial testified that Bryan said he heard Travis McMichael say “(expletive) n-word” after shooting Arbery."},{"_id":"IOZLIYQ5YRB6LCUER5UDWYRHRM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643655089144},"type":"text","content":"Arbery’s parents said they were outraged that a deal was reached against their wishes. Speaking outside the federal courthouse Monday morning, Marcus Arbery Sr. told reporters he is “mad as hell” about the agreement for his son’s killers."},{"_id":"J6FIZVHYSNBBREML2P35MPT4RQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643655089145},"type":"text","content":"He said last week that he has no doubt his son’s murder was racially motivated and that he was looking forward to evidence of racism being introduced in the upcoming hate crimes trial."},{"_id":"QADKAY5WTRABRD7GUFM63Y5LRU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643655089146},"type":"text","content":"Racial evidence was largely avoided by the Cobb County prosecutors in the state case last year as they sought to convince a Glynn County jury of 11 white people and one Black man to return guilty verdicts for all three defendants."},{"_id":"7XQW6PRUMVDCDITGOYYDORS5ZE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643655089147},"type":"text","content":"“Anybody with some common sense can see this was a racial hate crime. The facts are there,” Marcus Arbery told the AJC. “The whole world saw what happened.”"},{"_id":"REYO42COP5FV7IRRBQU2R5VCWI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643655089148},"type":"text","content":"He noted that white people also entered the vacant home and that none of them were chased down and shot in the street. One of the most disturbing things about the video, he said, was the way Travis McMichael turned and walked away as Arbery lay dying in the road."},{"_id":"YPL6CFNNEVEZ3DWHIWVRQK4N2I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643655089149},"type":"text","content":"“He used the n-word while my son was lying on the ground dying,” Marcus Arbery said. “And he showed no remorse for it. He didn’t try to help him or nothing … What laws did he break? He didn’t take nothing. He didn’t break into nothing. So why did he lose his life? Because he was a Black man?”"},{"_id":"TIIXW56Q75FLNHHVXWV3Q6K7NI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643655089150},"type":"text","content":"He said his youngest son had big dreams and a bright future, and that nobody deserved to die like that."},{"_id":"UGBRYWN3RVFH3O3URGNF5RQEIU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643655089151},"type":"text","content":"Arbery’s mother called the plea deal “disrespectful.”"},{"_id":"JCN6OMLB5ZF6LHX7QIWNBEFSSM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643655089152},"type":"text","content":"“I fought so hard to get these guys in state prison,” Cooper-Jones told reporters. “I told them very, very adamantly that I want them to go to state prison and do their time.”"},{"_id":"CH7BF5R6XFENRKZ4O3C5E3PAK4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643608437608},"type":"text","content":"— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates."},{"_id":"DEP5KDRZOVFMPBDILABLDI3YC4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643648897595},"type":"text","content":"Staff writer Bill Rankin contributed to this article."}],"display_date":"2022-01-31T21:44:00Z","headlines":{"basic":"McMichaels reach plea deal in hate crimes case over Arbery killing"},"first_publish_date":"2022-01-31T06:15:08.823Z","taxonomy":{"sections":[{"path":"/news/atlanta-news","parent":{"default":"/news"},"_website":"ajc","parent_id":"/news","name":"Local News","description":"Atlanta Georgia city and county news, as well as Georgia state and regional news at ajc.com","_id":"/news/atlanta-news","additional_properties":{"original":{"parent":{"AmpNav":"/news","default":"/news","BottomNav":null,"TopNavRedesign":null,"SectionMap":"https://www.ajc.com/","MainMenuRedesign2021":"/news","TopNav":null,"ComposerNav":"https://www.ajc.com/"},"site":{"section_comments_enabled":"Yes","site_description":"Atlanta Georgia city and county news, as well as Georgia state and regional news at ajc.com","site_title":"Atlanta Local News"},"navigation":{"nav_title":"Local News"},"inactive":false,"node_type":"section","_website":"ajc","name":"Local News","Sponsor":{"sponsor_url_open_new_tab":"true","sponsor_desktop_banner":"","sponsor_mobile_banner":"","sponsor_url":""},"_id":"/news/atlanta-news","ancestors":{"TopNavRedesign":[],"SectionMap":["https://www.ajc.com/"],"MainMenuRedesign2021":["https://www.ajc.com/","/news"],"TopNav":[]},"order":{"AmpNav":2004,"default":2004,"SectionMap":1074,"MainMenuRedesign2021":2004,"ComposerNav":1083}}},"_website_section_id":"ajc./news/atlanta-news","type":"section","version":"0.6.0"},{"path":"/news/crime","parent":{"default":"/news"},"_website":"ajc","parent_id":"/news","name":"Crime & Public Safety","description":"Crime in Atlanta: News and issues about crime, criminals, police and personal security in metro Atlanta. 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See the DPH’s guide to their data for more information about definitions."},{"_id":"QG2MIY6GZRHETPTUNBOFW2S7KM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1594840737267,"class":["p"]},"type":"text","content":"CONFIRMED CASES: 1,842,500"},{"_id":"3K523BRNXRFTLBHCAK35WQJC4U","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1594840737266,"class":["p"]},"type":"text","content":"CONFIRMED DEATHS: 27,595 | This figure does not include additional cases that the DPH reports as suspected COVID-19-related deaths. 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Starbucks on Howell Mill Road say they have turned in more than the necessary signatures to the National Labor Relations Board. If the NLRB agrees that more than 30% of non-management employees are on board, it will order a vote."},{"_id":"HG5RNRMALVFV3IZSU2OM7WYPL4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643657454525},"type":"text","content":"The campaign here was not sparked by miserable work conditions, said Page Smith, a shift supervisor and a member of the group leading the effort at the Howell Mill location. “We love to work at Starbucks, to be partners here, to be part of a community,” said Smith, who started work there in April. “But we feel strongly that we are not held in as much respect as we’d like to be.”"},{"_id":"UV25VXEKCBHWREDOOB5BQXWW6E","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643657454526},"type":"text","content":"Starting pay differs across the country. At the Howell Mill Starbucks, a new barista typically receives $15 an hour. But it’s not just about hourly wage, since many workers do not get assigned enough hours each week to make a decent living, Smith said. “It’s not particularly consistent and it’s hard to anticipate,” Smith said. “We all have to have roommates.”"},{"_id":"YPCNDIY6CVBALPYLKUMHJXQZKA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643657454527},"type":"text","content":"A Starbucks spokesman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that whatever the outcome of the campaign in Atlanta, the company wants to avoid conflict. He cited Rossann Williams, a Starbucks executive vice president who recently said that “the vote outcomes will not change our shared purpose or how we will show up for each other.”"},{"_id":"JMTSGBWCTZGONDALLFOZ4G4SME","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643657454528},"type":"text","content":"Two Starbucks stores in Buffalo and one in Canada have voted to unionize. Efforts at unionization are also underway in 14 other states besides Georgia. The union, Workers United, represents about 86,000 workers in a range of industries, according to Chris Baumann, director for the southern region."},{"_id":"VLTH7NFVPFDPXMO67KENTF2JIA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643657454529},"type":"text","content":"Seattle-based Starbucks last year had revenues of $29.1 billion and about 400,000 employees. More than one-quarter of its stores are in the United States, including about 40 in metro Atlanta."},{"_id":"4VRPNG5JJRAB5DOWNJ42LQ6JSY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643657454530},"type":"text","content":"Georgia has a long history as a state where unions lack clout. Organizing campaigns can be longshots."},{"_id":"HWE65EF4H5DP7M6DBI2YRC4ITM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643657454531},"type":"text","content":"Government and business officials who market the state to investors and large companies typically tout the lack of unions as a plus that can lower payroll costs."},{"_id":"3JNKP2PENJAZ5EXQ2ZAWP6DWEA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643659180049},"type":"text","content":"Georgia last year ranked 41st among the states for the share of workers who were union members, 4.8% of the workforce, or 211,000 people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Moreover, Georgia’s law allows workers in unionized shops to forego membership, but requires the union to represent them. About 256,000 workers are represented by unions."},{"_id":"ITQZ2EGWRJAOTHAXOUDG7WA2LQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643657454533},"type":"text","content":"“Our efforts are meant to set a precedent, to inspire other stores to speak up and to show it’s totally possible,” Smith said."},{"_id":"VJ6H3DC3BBB5DJLDRTHCWKRTMI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643657454534},"type":"text","content":"It doesn’t hurt that unemployment is low and that many companies are competing to lure workers with better benefits and higher pay."},{"_id":"TA76SZIQUVDE7BOTKDWUIUYUDQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643657454535},"type":"text","content":"“I think that informs the confidence that a lot of us have,” Smith said. “There are cultural changes happening. 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The former president is accused of trying to overturn the state’s 2020 elections results."},{"_id":"FDKKHXEJWJGPZM2H4452RM3UBU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643653647274},"type":"text","content":"Brasher said he has had enough of the criminal cases during his 31-year legal career and recently found an interest in family law."},{"_id":"GNFNI2777ZBVNEG6OKUE6UR2KE","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"5RCC5XYIJZA4TFYHMT73GJ3O5Q"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Fulton OKs $1.25B budget, with money for elections and court backlog","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/fulton-oks-125b-budget-with-money-for-elections-and-court-backlog/NGGBKVAY7ZEJTOBV2GUSYU4QBI/"},{"_id":"NRAGKY2VMFFPDFHXCPZF2Y5JVM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643653647276},"type":"text","content":"He said he wants to stay on as a senior judge to help out when needed, but Brasher hopes to be fully employed by the time his resignation becomes effective Dec. 1."},{"_id":"QE4Y2226JBFVPAQM67Y7V4H6OU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643653647277},"type":"text","content":"Brasher was due for re-election this cycle and made sure to announce his resignation with still weeks before the qualifying period ends."},{"_id":"AQ2PHAYAFBHNTFOEXK5ED4JGQY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643653647278},"type":"text","content":"“I leave feeling like I’ve done service to the job and also to the people,” Brasher said."},{"level":3,"_id":"VC5DZI77LFDUPP6EEI3TIFV5YU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643653647279},"type":"header","content":"Read his resignation letter:"},{"_id":"S6FZTRCLOZCQ5DMSA3RSCAYD4E","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"LWAJ54M5R5HA3EZZAMTQA57H6A"},"type":"raw_html","content":"


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And it was one of several shootings last week that prompted responses from local elected officials, including several incidents at or near nightlife spots."},{"_id":"4VARIHG6FJFD3M5U54N3KCFPAY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643393370664},"type":"text","content":"Dickens made reducing crime the central focus of his campaign last year, pitching a plan that involves hiring more police officers, bolstering community policing and targeting gang leaders. His efforts to curb gun violence in Atlanta come as Republican state leaders propose legislation for Georgians to carry concealed handguns without a permit."},{"_id":"RUATEJ73HFBURAC73GWD2X6I54","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"YI3LABGORNFHVAFIUBEXRYRHFE"},"type":"raw_html","content":"

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"},{"_id":"H5DU6D4GQVENJMZLON74ZGPYDI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643237476187},"type":"text","content":"Kenyatta Mitchell, Atlanta’s new Intergovernmental Affairs director, told a City Council committee last week the gun legislation has a high probability of passing. Councilmember Liliana Bakhtiari wanted to know if the city and council could do more to oppose the Republican-sponsored bill."},{"_id":"FXLQFQEWSJC4ZARJYQJ7KK24BY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643404120669},"type":"text","content":"“With everything that’s going on, I’d be terrified of the idea of someone being able to carry without needing a permit,” Bakhtiari said."},{"_id":"5YJA7OJL5VBJHE35Y4XVX7JMMU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643404120670},"type":"text","content":"Mitchell told them to remember “everything else that we are fighting for this year” as they discuss their response to gun legislation, a sign of the tricky balance between maintaining a good relationship with the state and pushing back on proposals city officials disagree with."},{"_id":"IGNRQQNVORH2FO36YNMBSILHYU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643404120671},"type":"text","content":"“I want to make sure that we’re in good graces with folks across the street,” Mitchell said of Georgia’s General Assembly. The subtext, of course, is the Buckhead cityhood movement."},{"_id":"X7SH3HDFVRH33MP2GTGDI4UWDI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643393370667},"type":"text","content":"---"},{"subtype":"twitter","referent":{"referent_properties":{"additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":1643718289491}},"provider":"https://publish.twitter.com/oembed?url=","service":"oembed","id":"https://twitter.com/CityofAtlanta/status/1486832608868769799","type":"twitter"},"_id":"OTU2DKOLTJAHTJKOWBWP2ABQ24","raw_oembed":{"author_name":"City of Atlanta, GA","cache_age":"3153600000","provider_url":"https://twitter.com","type":"twitter","version":"1.0","url":"https://twitter.com/CityofAtlanta/status/1486832608868769799","author_url":"https://twitter.com/CityofAtlanta","width":550,"html":"

nn","_id":"https://twitter.com/CityofAtlanta/status/1486832608868769799","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":1643718289491},"provider_name":"Twitter","height":null},"type":"oembed_response"},{"_id":"CTRT6S6SHBEHBABUVLRDJKWI64","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643383224102},"type":"text","content":"Quote of the week: “Mrs. Rowan thanks you for keeping me gainfully employed. 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He toured three schools with APS Superintendent Lisa Herring, attended the funeral service for Elder Cal Merrell, a local icon affectionately known as “The Happy Preacher,” and he visited two homeless shelters to deliver COVID-19 tests — a plan from the homelessness summit he convened last week."},{"subtype":"facebook-post","referent":{"referent_properties":{"additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":1643718289498}},"provider":"https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post/oembed.json/?url=","service":"oembed","id":"https://www.facebook.com/AtlantaPoliceDpt/posts/304470058384837&locale=en_US&locale=en_US","type":"facebook-post"},"_id":"5WX6KFNEEZGZTBJWHEGGLBAJEM","raw_oembed":{"author_name":"City of Atlanta Police Department","author_url":"https://www.facebook.com/AtlantaPoliceDpt","width":552,"html":"

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Posted by City of Atlanta Police Department on Tuesday, January 25, 2022

","provider_url":"https://www.facebook.com","_id":"https://www.facebook.com/AtlantaPoliceDpt/posts/304470058384837&locale=en_US&locale=en_US","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":1643718289498},"provider_name":"Facebook","type":"facebook-post","version":"1.0"},"type":"oembed_response"},{"_id":"CTRT6S6SHBEHBABUVLRDJKWI64","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643383224102},"type":"text","content":"He also attended the Atlanta Police Department’s graduation ceremony for 33 new officers and 29 members of the citizen’s police academy. He later participated in the Clippers and Cops program for officers and residents to interact at barbershops."},{"_id":"766H3N2NAZENNFPIM7DZZNML7U","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643324997213},"type":"text","content":"---"},{"_id":"PQ74REEVCZB4LMIRLZMP4QLHWM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643393370685},"type":"text","content":"The Buckhead City Committee, the group pushing to carve Atlanta’s Northside into a separate city, plans to send volunteer residents down to the state Capitol to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that would lead to a ballot referendum on the creation of “Buckhead City.”"},{"_id":"PIUTSCEZHRCULPWG6DYVH7GLSQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643393370686},"type":"text","content":"The group, which the committee is calling an “Anti-Voter Suppression Team,” will be “speaking to legislators, explaining our position and asking them to give us the right to vote. Simple as that,” committee CEO Bill White said at a press conference Thursday. The right-to-vote argument is a fairly common one for cityhood groups to make in Georgia."},{"_id":"TLU7IK2DBJF3BJL4QLTEAEDF7U","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643393370688},"type":"text","content":"In a statement, a spokesman for the Committee for a United Atlanta, which opposes cityhood, said “Bill White’s latest ploy is a political stunt designed to avoid talking about the dire consequences of breaking up our city.”"},{"_id":"WUQAL2NY4VGO3IKTVBLCHLBRHM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643393370689},"type":"text","content":"(Hey, speaking of Buckhead cityhood, we talked through the latest updates with our pal Greg Bluestein on the Politically Georgia podcast. Give it a listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or Spotify.)"},{"_id":"OB5FVEAJSBE2TLEJC3L6BUOJJQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643576777885},"type":"text","content":"If you have any feedback, story ideas, tips or City Hall insider info, please reach out! You can email us at [email protected] and [email protected], or find us on Twitter, @jdcapelouto and @WilNobles."},{"_id":"JFAR57KBQVDN5MSQMLBZBRS6FE","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"6CGSGN4EQNE77CD65VQN4MGUHY"},"type":"raw_html","content":"

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WILBORN NOBLES III

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Wilborn P. Nobles III covers the Atlanta mayor's policies for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Wil (not "Willie" or "William") previously covered Baltimore County government at The Baltimore Sun, but he never finished "The Wire." He also covered education for the Times-Picayune in his hometown of New Orleans, so he tries to avoid discussions about football. Wil used to play tuba for his high school marching band, but he eventually put down his horn to intern at The Washington Post. The Louisiana State University graduate enjoys gardening, comedy, and music.

[email protected]

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J.D. CAPELOUTO

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J.D. Capelouto is a local news reporter covering City Hall and all things intown Atlanta for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His work focuses the City Council, neighborhood issues, public safety, housing and transportation. J.D. was born and raised in Atlanta and has lived in the city all his life, except for four years at Boston University, where he studied journalism and learned how to dress for cold weather. He’s been with the AJC since 2018, and has previously written for The Boston Globe and the Thomson Reuters Foundation. When he’s not reporting or scrolling through Twitter, J.D. enjoys pop culture podcasts, “Survivor” and visiting various pools around Atlanta.

[email protected]

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Trump did not mention any of them by name or offer any explanation for his labeling them racist."},{"_id":"BUCPQ2C3IRH3FLTELIHWSC7HJM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643642218664},"type":"text","content":"“In reality they’re not after me, they’re after you and I just happen to be the person that’s in the way,” Trump told his supporters. “It’s been going on for years.”"},{"_id":"VQNSYPKBRZCHXGZPLAJT5AAAXM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643642218665},"type":"text","content":"The developments came as Willis office ramps up its criminal probe of Trump’s actions when Georgia’s 2020 election results were being finalized."},{"_id":"MP5ZTITWHNBETLU3LSKQRLWHSQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643634491144},"type":"text","content":"Fulton judges last week granted Willis’s request for a special grand jury to be impaneled beginning May 2 “to investigate any and all facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to alleged violations of the laws of the State of Georgia” following the 2020 elections."},{"_id":"YAYWZROINVF5BAKUI7GTWZAFLY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643634491145},"type":"text","content":"Willis’ inquiry, launched a year ago, is centered on the Jan. 2, 2021, phone call that Trump placed to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which he urged the Republican to “find” the 11,780 votes to overcome President Joe Biden’s win here."},{"_id":"4ND6HEGWPRBVVCU3HQMWTHD5MA","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"RCXSOUEDTRFG5IOCYRBTAQ5ZBY"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Learn more about Fulton DA Fani Willis","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/crime/new-fulton-da-balances-trump-probe-massive-local-workload/AHWEA3OAIFE55CTWB6LQBMS5R4/"},{"_id":"77D2AX7WXVCVHCJDIK3XVTCRQY","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"UWO4G5A7RNCR5BJE7ITC4HF6DQ"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Trump’s state of mind central to Fulton DA’s investigation","url":"https://www.ajc.com/politics/trumps-state-of-mind-central-to-fulton-das-investigation/N4R5G776PVBY3GRK6Z422AOHKI/"},{"_id":"JW6NXEQMZ5H73HPXEO7XPPVMQA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643642218670},"type":"text","content":"Willis has indicated that her team is also examining the abrupt resignation of former Atlanta-based U.S. Attorney BJay Pak; a November 2020 call U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., placed to Raffensperger; and false claims made by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani during a hearing before the Georgia Senate Judiciary Committee. The probe could also examine the 16 phony Republican electors who cast ballots for Trump in a sham ceremony in December 2020, even though Georgia was called for Democrat Joe Biden."},{"_id":"OD7IM3YL2JBZ3KDT53OVGPYQU4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643634491147},"type":"text","content":"“My staff and I will not be influenced or intimidated by anyone as this investigation moves forward,” Willis told Hacker. “I have an obligation to ensure that those who work in and visit the Fulton County Courthouse, the adjoining Fulton County Government Center and surrounding areas are safe.”"},{"_id":"OKBE52XUXNG37NJDOCMOB6NKEE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643642218672},"type":"text","content":"The Democrat noted that within close proximity of the courthouse where the special grand jury is slated to meet are City Hall, the state Capitol, Georgia State University and multiple federal buildings."},{"_id":"FMPRAAE225FMHGPHFDFJKU3SBA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643642218673},"type":"text","content":"Should Willis’s office decide to pursue charges against Trump, the legal proceedings are expected to draw a sea of news media, protesters and counter-protesters to downtown Atlanta. The DA told Hacker that her staff has “already made adjustments to accommodate security concerns” during the course of the investigation and begun working with county officials to plan for additional security."},{"_id":"ZWURRV3Z3VGNPJRH32LFUOLHZA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643642218674},"type":"text","content":"A spokeswoman for the FBI’s Atlanta office responded, “as we do in the normal course of business, we are gathering information to identify any potential threats and are sharing that information with our partners.”"},{"_id":"JDD4MYQNMNA4TBSQNL3ITNZRWM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643642218675},"type":"text","content":"Fulton County prosecutors are cooperating with their counterparts in New York and Washington, the AJC previously reported. Willis has indicated that her office is probing potential violations of Georgia law including criminal solicitation to commit election fraud, intentional interference with the performance of election duties, conspiracy and racketeering, among others."},{"_id":"ORWDPAYCRFFB5IO2I5GJQCXEKE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643642218676},"type":"text","content":"Trump recently described his phone call to Raffensperger as “perfect.” He said that a special grand jury should instead be looking at “the large scale voter fraud that took place in Georgia,” a falsehood that’s been proven wrong by three ballot counts and multiple investigations that found no evidence of a coordinated effort to change votes."},{"_id":"LPAP43QQOJHOJAI6GICDZOYA2Y","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643642218677},"type":"text","content":"In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this month, Willis said that a decision on whether to bring charges against Trump could come in the first half of 2022."},{"_id":"HCPZIEDXGRAIREPQOQDSIAQMWY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643642218678},"type":"text","content":"“We’re going to just get the facts, get the law, be very methodical, very patient and, in some extent, unemotional about this quest for justice,” she said."},{"_id":"DF3UWKMCY5APJGF3PSAOO2OAJA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643667035774},"type":"text","content":"RECENT DEVELOPMENTS"},{"_id":"W3IZORKUKFFGPNZCI6I4U7A54A","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643667035775},"type":"text","content":"Fulton DA Fani Willis requested — and last week was granted — a special grand jury for her probe into former President Donald Trump. 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And when cases are held publicly, efforts to keep people safe such as social distancing, has slowed the process because fewer people can be in a courtroom at once."},{"_id":"55VN46OUZBHXHACOR4PHQBTZCY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643316969775},"type":"text","content":"“The DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office is estimated to be facing a backlog of three to five years, and it’s fair to say our fellow metro jurisdictions are facing similar challenges,” DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston said."},{"_id":"Q3WOKHFO4NHD5FRZJ2XEFTFC2A","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643316969774},"type":"text","content":"As a result, court officials are asking for millions from the American Rescue Plan Act to hire temporary personnel to reduce the number of old cases, from as little as $2 million in DeKalb to $75 million or more in Fulton."},{"_id":"ORLGHXXCDFGDBHS7G7CQEH5BHE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643383757769},"type":"text","content":"“The prosecution of serious, violent felonies poses a significant challenge with jury trials only being held on a limited basis after having been at a standstill for 15 months between 2020 and 2021,” Boston said in an email. “Caseloads for staff handling these crimes have significantly increased.”"},{"_id":"NXER2HQ2ZJH2NEGYO7ZV2ZPNFI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643316969776},"type":"text","content":"The funding push comes as the judiciary tries to balance the backlog with a rise in homicides in Atlanta and surrounding counties, as well as evictions, which have jumped from 7,500 a month before the pandemic to about 10,000 now, according to Atlanta Regional Commission data."},{"_id":"PRNBUK3YXJFPFB65SIMBRPY6TA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643400154503},"type":"text","content":"Gov. Kemp in October also pledged to spend $110 million in COVID-19 funding to address court backlogs across the state."},{"_id":"P25TKEJPKZGI7COBRH6JQPURLM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643383757772},"type":"text","content":"And even for those courtrooms that have operated virtually throughout the pandemic, the backlog is growing."},{"_id":"2GIWSKGHTRDVPHA2DNUXUGA4YE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643383757773},"type":"text","content":"Clayton Magistrate Court Chief Judge Keisha Wright Hill told the south metro Atlanta community’s county commission in November that before the pandemic her office would address 200 eviction cases a day. That volume was severely reduced when the court went virtual."},{"_id":"44JN7ARAQ5EMLGVQTPADFGPQWY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643383757774},"type":"text","content":"“Pre-COVID, when we held dispossessory court, we had a calendar of 100 people in the morning and 100 people in the afternoon,” Hill told the commission in a request for part-time judges to catch up on old cases."},{"_id":"HRH23NTEOZD4ZJ24T7HBODD5GA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643383757775},"type":"text","content":"“Now we’re reduced to Zoom,” she said of the popular teleconferencing software. “We can only hear so many cases per hour per day.”"},{"_id":"KM4OKWFETFGLZH2X7CM6SYLXKY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643389697917},"type":"text","content":"While county leaders have been supportive of the requests, they have reminded judicial leaders that the federal ARPA funding is temporary. Once the money runs out, the jobs will go with it."},{"_id":"SMAEVSXX5RDAVK5XONGRZTYORA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643389697918},"type":"text","content":"“Whoever you hire, you are making them aware that when the funds run out, it is not sustainable and they can be out of a job with us,” responded Clayton County Commission Chairman Jeff Turner to a January funding request for judges and victim’s advocate positions."},{"_id":"55VN46OUZBHXHACOR4PHQBTZCY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643316969775},"type":"text","content":"Fulton County, which has a $1.25 billion budget, dedicated $75 million to deal with a backlog of 11,000 cases over the next few years. That money will include hiring 300 additional staffers and opening courts on nights and weekends. That number could grow as the county’s judicial leaders expect the problem to worsen before it gets better."},{"_id":"DFQABEYPH5EAPOI6L5CH3OFELI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643383757778},"type":"text","content":"Gwinnett District Attorney Patsy Austin-Gatson said her office is working with Superior Court judges to hire judicial staff, but the plan is still in the discussion phase."},{"_id":"37H54RIXHRGJTLJT3DQ2U7H3EE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643383757779},"type":"text","content":"In Cobb, Chief Magistrate Judge Brendan Murphy last year sought numerous administrative techs and a judicial program coordinator to help reduce the backlog. In his appeal for help, Murphy said social distancing cut in half the 150 cases a day that could be heard in the court pre-pandemic."},{"_id":"F36VEY37HZG4RPVRI33M3NKPGI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643383757781},"type":"text","content":"DeKalb is seeking $2 million from the county’s 2022 budget for 10 attorneys, 10 investigators, five victim-witness advocates and five legal secretaries to help with the backlog from its homicide and gangs and domestic violence and sexual assault units."},{"_id":"3IQRIZSEDVETLM5UFNN7C6JCU4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643383757782},"type":"text","content":"“DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond has been very supportive and understanding of our efforts to address the backlog,” Boston said. “In his recommended 2022 budget, he has recognized the need to fund our office in a way that addresses the impact of COVID-19 on serious, violent crimes. We look forward to support from the board of commissioners.”"},{"_id":"6MVKC73J7JCJPEOTZN6AEGUDTQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643383757783},"type":"text","content":"
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Before joining the AJC in the fall of 2020, she worked at daily newspapers in Texas and Connecticut and served in the Peace Corps in El Salvador."},{"_id":"SE4PHEJYTJBI3CYGNARVBEH7RA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643386294262},"type":"text","content":"Malik is Bangladeshi American and grew up in Maryland. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland, where she also minored in Spanish. 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Every day, whether in print or on its digital and social platforms, the AJC informs and empowers readers who value credible, in-depth journalism."}],"display_date":"2022-01-29T17:59:10.821Z","headlines":{"basic":"AJC reporter Alia Malik to cover Gwinnett County government"},"first_publish_date":"2022-01-29T17:59:10.821Z","taxonomy":{"sections":[{"path":"/news/atlanta-news","parent":{"default":"/news"},"_website":"ajc","parent_id":"/news","name":"Local News","description":"Atlanta Georgia city and county news, as well as Georgia state and regional news at ajc.com","_id":"/news/atlanta-news","additional_properties":{"original":{"parent":{"AmpNav":"/news","default":"/news","BottomNav":null,"TopNavRedesign":null,"SectionMap":"https://www.ajc.com/","MainMenuRedesign2021":"/news","TopNav":null,"ComposerNav":"https://www.ajc.com/"},"site":{"section_comments_enabled":"Yes","site_description":"Atlanta Georgia city and county news, as well as Georgia state and regional news at ajc.com","site_title":"Atlanta Local News"},"navigation":{"nav_title":"Local News"},"inactive":false,"node_type":"section","_website":"ajc","name":"Local News","Sponsor":{"sponsor_url_open_new_tab":"true","sponsor_desktop_banner":"","sponsor_mobile_banner":"","sponsor_url":""},"_id":"/news/atlanta-news","ancestors":{"TopNavRedesign":[],"SectionMap":["https://www.ajc.com/"],"MainMenuRedesign2021":["https://www.ajc.com/","/news"],"TopNav":[]},"order":{"AmpNav":2004,"default":2004,"SectionMap":1074,"MainMenuRedesign2021":2004,"ComposerNav":1083}}},"_website_section_id":"ajc./news/atlanta-news","type":"section","version":"0.6.0"},{"path":"/news","parent":{"default":"https://www.ajc.com/"},"_website":"ajc","parent_id":"https://www.ajc.com/","name":"News","description":"Atlanta Georgia News main page: Breaking News, Atlanta Weather Forecast, Crime, Politics, GA Schools, Local Articles - Atlanta Journal-Constitution","_id":"/news","additional_properties":{"original":{"parent":{"AmpNav":"https://www.ajc.com/","default":"https://www.ajc.com/","BottomNav":null,"TopNavRedesign":null,"SectionMap":"https://www.ajc.com/","LoggedOutMenu":null,"MainMenuRedesign2021":"https://www.ajc.com/","TopNav":null,"TopicsBar":null,"ComposerNav":"https://www.ajc.com/"},"site":{"site_url":"/news/","section_comments_enabled":"Yes","site_description":"Atlanta Georgia News main page: Breaking News, Atlanta Weather Forecast, Crime, Politics, GA Schools, Local Articles - Atlanta Journal-Constitution","site_title":"Atlanta GA News | Top News Page"},"navigation":{"nav_title":"News"},"inactive":false,"node_type":"section","_website":"ajc","name":"News","Sponsor":{"sponsor_url_open_new_tab":"true","sponsor_desktop_banner":"","sponsor_mobile_banner":"","sponsor_url":""},"_id":"/news","ancestors":{"AmpNav":["https://www.ajc.com/"],"default":["https://www.ajc.com/"],"BottomNav":[],"TopNavRedesign":[],"SectionMap":["https://www.ajc.com/"],"LoggedOutMenu":[],"MainMenuRedesign2021":["https://www.ajc.com/"],"TopicsBar":[]},"order":{"AmpNav":1001,"default":1001,"SectionMap":1018,"MainMenuRedesign2021":1002,"ComposerNav":1137}}},"_website_section_id":"ajc./news","type":"section","version":"0.6.0"}],"primary_section":{"path":"/news/atlanta-news","name":"Local News"},"tags":[{"text":"localnews.ajc"},{"text":"atlanta-neighborhoods.ajc"},{"text":"intown atlanta"},{"text":"clayton county"},{"text":"cobb county"},{"text":"dekalb county"},{"text":"north fulton"},{"text":"south fulton county"},{"text":"gwinnett county"}]},"type":"story","last_updated_date":"2022-01-29T21:26:42.813Z","promo_items":{"basic":{"credits":{"affiliation":[],"by":[{"name":"AJC","type":"author","byline":"AJC"}]},"subtitle":"Alia Malik","width":1000,"caption":"Alia Malik","type":"image","url":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/KXLPIDILMNH6DFLQNR32Z3ZTAA.jpg","height":563}},"canonical_url":"/news/atlanta-news/ajc-reporter-alia-malik-to-cover-gwinnett-county-government/CDUCAMTPARCH5PTQEFJH3RSHKE/","_id":"CDUCAMTPARCH5PTQEFJH3RSHKE"},{"content_elements":[{"_id":"WR5F6OC4JFGWRABFGKYKOSAC3Q","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643320915436},"type":"text","content":"The numbers tell a story. But, from what the critical care doctors and nurses at Braselton’s Northeast Georgia Medical Center can see, the public isn’t listening."},{"_id":"WAOKZ4MQMNEX5CME72RHSLNF2Q","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643320915437},"type":"text","content":"Since the omicron variant came roaring onto the pandemic scene two months ago, the state has set records for new infections. While the variant appears to cause a more mild illness in most people than previous strains, especially among those who are vaccinated, the sheer numbers are staggering. Even though a smaller percentage of people are getting critically ill, it’s enough to overwhelm intensive care units."},{"_id":"BBK3RVUQVZBTLJ42EVLW7SDUZE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643329088122},"type":"text","content":"At the Braselton hospital, all 24 hospital beds in the ICU are filled, 18 of them with COVID-19 patients."},{"_id":"TKGUUG33FRBULMQQZ3DXRK4X3E","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643320915438},"type":"text","content":"Yet, when many Georgians size up omicron, they say this latest wave hasn’t been as bad as earlier ones."},{"_id":"API2K75MDZH6TKKHRMKO7GJKHQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643238387473},"type":"text","content":"Haley Clement, a registered nurse at the Braselton hospital, only wishes they could see what she sees."},{"_id":"AMEXTHWPYVCUXJVUGFHNGTZNFU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643320915440},"type":"text","content":"Once a patient is sick enough to be admitted into ICU, there’s little difference between the delta variant and the omicron variant, health care workers say."},{"_id":"AWRVPRONHBG7JEV7E2A7T343PE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643238387470},"type":"text","content":"”I feel like it’s the same,” said Brandy Harris, also an ICU nurse at the Braselton hospital. “The patients are just as sick with omicron as they were with delta and the original COVID-19.”"},{"_id":"RJFV4OPXVZGZDAXGAB5OAL4LXE","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"VHUKJH5IINAIFDKIY42MF7SXYE"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"How hospitals are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/coronavirus-georgia-hospitals"},{"_id":"7DK56EINT5GAHNOHBKE2KZ74AM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643323296063},"type":"text","content":"Under a maze of machines, tubes and wires, patients are wrestling with everything from dangerously low oxygen levels to heart problems to organ failure. Some are on the brink of death."},{"_id":"BHKRH7EGXFDSFGWYEBUM6OCF2I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643323296064},"type":"text","content":"And even though there are experts who say the number of new diagnoses may have peaked in the state, the patients keep coming. Clement thinks that would surprise many of the Georgians who aren’t as worried about omicron."},{"_id":"4BMZEOWFXJF2HDDKGXOZJSIP5Q","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643323296065},"type":"text","content":"“You wish you could take people along with you for one just day,” she said as she paused to talk to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter who was allowed to observe a day in her ICU, “so they could see the devastating reality that COVID truly is.”"},{"owner":{"id":"ajc"},"copyright":"2022 Atlanta Journal-Constitution","address":{"locality":"Braselton","region":"GA"},"caption":"Registered nurses Brandy Harris confers with Kari Ruis, right, at the Intensive Care Unit. "It's super busy," said Harris, who has been a nurse for 21 years. "Wearing this mask all day, it is warm. In and out of the rooms all day. Gloves and gowns, and cleaning each piece of equipment you use with a Covid patient. Lots of procedures. Putting a permanent airway in a patient today because he's been intubated for some time. . .The patients are just as sick with omicron with delta, and the original COVID-19." (Hyosub Shin / [email protected]).","source":{"system":"AJC Freelancer","name":"AJC Freelancer","edit_url":"","source_type":"wires","source_id":"s3://ajc-arc-photo-integration/Freelancer/013022 COVID HOSPITAL HS01.jpg","additional_properties":{"editor":"photo center"}},"taxonomy":{"associated_tasks":["61eef6a5fcce753d3f1ac0fa"],"seo_keywords":["AJC Freelancer"]},"type":"image","distributor":{"mode":"custom","name":"AJC Freelancer","category":"wires"},"version":"0.10.3","url":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/4DD2FQTVJNN3YDBT2MLTVHFTNM.jpg","licensable":false,"credits":{"by":[{"name":"HYOSUB SHIN / AJC","type":"author"}]},"subtype":"Wires","subtitle":"What the omicron wave looks like inside one Georgia hospital","width":5919,"_id":"4DD2FQTVJNN3YDBT2MLTVHFTNM","additional_properties":{"fullSizeResizeUrl":"/resizer/BK5GpG9LiZcH6LIxGp4MeLwxtBU=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/4DD2FQTVJNN3YDBT2MLTVHFTNM.jpg","iptc_source":"AJC","comments":[],"iptc_job_identifier":"61eef6a5fcce753d3f1ac0fa","keywords":["omicron","AJC Freelancer","COVID","Northeast Georgia Medical Center","Braselton"],"proxyUrl":"/resizer/BK5GpG9LiZcH6LIxGp4MeLwxtBU=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/4DD2FQTVJNN3YDBT2MLTVHFTNM.jpg","takenOn":"2022-01-25T18:38:37Z","originalUrl":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/4DD2FQTVJNN3YDBT2MLTVHFTNM.jpg","published":true,"resizeUrl":"/resizer/BK5GpG9LiZcH6LIxGp4MeLwxtBU=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/4DD2FQTVJNN3YDBT2MLTVHFTNM.jpg","thumbnailResizeUrl":"/resizer/NSj_wPWdConQoHWd_nDemXgcb6A=/300x0/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/4DD2FQTVJNN3YDBT2MLTVHFTNM.jpg","version":2,"originalName":"s3://ajc-arc-photo-integration/Freelancer/013022 COVID HOSPITAL HS01.jpg","mime_type":"image/jpeg","restricted":false,"galleries":[{"headlines":{"basic":"Photos: Inside an ICU during the omicron outbreak"},"_id":"YMXARYLU4ZBQFB6QD5WPQCEQFE"}],"_id":"Y3TG6F5SBRGFJGHPRDP57GBQZA","iptc_title":"staff"},"created_date":"2022-01-27T00:37:31Z","last_updated_date":"2022-01-28T17:57:37Z","slug":"AAJC 013022 HX COVID HOSPITAL","height":3808},{"level":2,"_id":"64V4AW77RJGYZOE2K2PGXN5Z6M","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643323296066},"type":"header","content":"‘We feel pretty defeated’"},{"_id":"4QYWFV3SZRBIRCIX7HDK4AILAI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643300874524},"type":"text","content":"Roughly a dozen registered nurses and two doctors are assigned to the Braselton hospital’s second-floor ICU wing. Most of the time, it’s oddly quiet except for the sounds of hissing oxygen, beeping monitors and Chuck Beckman."},{"_id":"ARL3J4BZDVFH3DPHVCZGDT3NMQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643323296068},"type":"text","content":"Beckman, a therapeutic musician, sits in a chair, his back against a wall, and softly strums a guitar to provide comfort as the medical staff move in and out of rooms."},{"_id":"6YBZDHYYFBFFHG63Y2CK7XYRKI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643312096040},"type":"text","content":"On this day, Clement is a support nurse, helping administer medication, bathe patients and attend to other needs. She came into the medical profession shortly before the pandemic started."},{"_id":"ROU73WPWRVD63OSJH7DH6PTNGI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643312096041},"type":"text","content":"She feels the frustration that many health care workers have expressed — that too many people are still debating whether it’s worth it to get vaccinated, even though the best evidence shows it is; that too many people are balking at wearing masks; that too many people still aren’t taking the virus seriously."},{"owner":{"id":"ajc"},"copyright":"2022 Atlanta Journal-Constitution","address":{"locality":"Braselton","region":"GA"},"caption":"Registered nurse Haley Clement feels the frustration that many health care workers have expressed — that too many people are still debating whether it’s worth it to get vaccinated, even though the best evidence shows it is; that too many people are balking at wearing masks; that too many people still aren’t taking the virus seriously. (Hyosub Shin / [email protected])","source":{"system":"AJC Freelancer","name":"AJC Freelancer","edit_url":"","source_type":"wires","source_id":"s3://ajc-arc-photo-integration/Freelancer/013022 COVID HOSPITAL HS07.jpg","additional_properties":{"editor":"photo center"}},"taxonomy":{"associated_tasks":["61eef6a5fcce753d3f1ac0fa"],"seo_keywords":["AJC Freelancer"]},"type":"image","distributor":{"mode":"custom","name":"AJC Freelancer","category":"wires"},"version":"0.10.3","url":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/PRWG7VSXBVDAQ7QBYIMQ5RXJXQ.jpg","licensable":false,"credits":{"by":[{"name":"HYOSUB SHIN / AJC","type":"author"}]},"subtype":"Wires","subtitle":"What the omicron wave looks like inside one Georgia hospital","width":4637,"_id":"PRWG7VSXBVDAQ7QBYIMQ5RXJXQ","additional_properties":{"fullSizeResizeUrl":"/resizer/5scDBFROfym3m-EK8mwh_aPAShk=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/PRWG7VSXBVDAQ7QBYIMQ5RXJXQ.jpg","iptc_source":"AJC","comments":[],"iptc_job_identifier":"61eef6a5fcce753d3f1ac0fa","keywords":["omicron","AJC Freelancer","COVID","Northeast Georgia Medical Center","Braselton"],"proxyUrl":"/resizer/5scDBFROfym3m-EK8mwh_aPAShk=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/PRWG7VSXBVDAQ7QBYIMQ5RXJXQ.jpg","takenOn":"2022-01-25T21:48:43Z","originalUrl":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/PRWG7VSXBVDAQ7QBYIMQ5RXJXQ.jpg","published":true,"resizeUrl":"/resizer/5scDBFROfym3m-EK8mwh_aPAShk=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/PRWG7VSXBVDAQ7QBYIMQ5RXJXQ.jpg","thumbnailResizeUrl":"/resizer/BmhnP-4jPBLCTyy1bCsB_2lItTo=/300x0/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/PRWG7VSXBVDAQ7QBYIMQ5RXJXQ.jpg","version":2,"originalName":"s3://ajc-arc-photo-integration/Freelancer/013022 COVID HOSPITAL HS07.jpg","mime_type":"image/jpeg","restricted":false,"galleries":[],"_id":"4QECQEHUWJA7VPEROPW6L47LMA","iptc_title":"staff"},"created_date":"2022-01-27T00:38:23Z","last_updated_date":"2022-01-28T17:57:37Z","slug":"AAJC 013022 HX COVID HOSPITAL","height":3341},{"_id":"7RJS5LXW4NAARF4XB7AFD3AAVA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643312096042},"type":"text","content":"“It’s a battle that you’re not quite sure how to conquer. We feel pretty defeated,” Clement said. “We’ve worked really, really hard over the last two years to try and cure these people, keep these people alive. And we have not been as successful as we would like. So, when another surge comes around, you just feel defeated. You want to give it your all, but you know you know your all hasn’t always been good enough.”"},{"_id":"RVUG4RS7S5CAZO4RJSIBNZSFJM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643312096043},"type":"text","content":"The rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths slowed after the delta wave died down. But it didn’t last long. Every day for the past week, the state has reported an average of 75 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 deaths."},{"_id":"7WGPPSJKTBHGJMATUBCI45UPDI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643300874526},"type":"text","content":"Before the pandemic, a code blue emergency — which means a patient is in cardiac or respiratory arrest — would take place maybe two times a week in the Braselton ICU. Now, with the unit overflowing with COVID-19 patients, it’s more like twice a day."},{"owner":{"id":"ajc"},"copyright":"2022 Atlanta Journal-Constitution","address":{"locality":"Braselton","region":"GA"},"caption":"Dr. Hisham Qutob rushes to check on patients at the Intensive Care Unit of Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Braselton. "I think for physicians, nurses, and non-medical people, we are all just about ready to be done with this," he says. "But I think the question that is out there and I have an answer for this, is what does a post-pandemic life like look like if this virus never goes away?" (Hyosub Shin / [email protected])n","source":{"system":"AJC Freelancer","name":"AJC Freelancer","edit_url":"","source_type":"wires","source_id":"s3://ajc-arc-photo-integration/Freelancer/013022 COVID HOSPITAL HS16.jpg","additional_properties":{"editor":"photo center"}},"taxonomy":{"associated_tasks":["61eef6a5fcce753d3f1ac0fa"],"seo_keywords":["AJC Freelancer"]},"type":"image","distributor":{"mode":"custom","name":"AJC Freelancer","category":"wires"},"version":"0.10.3","url":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/PPPOW6V3Z4WPJT6C2T5L4RXQCI.jpg","licensable":false,"credits":{"by":[{"name":"HYOSUB SHIN / AJC","type":"author"}]},"subtype":"Wires","subtitle":"What the omicron wave looks like inside one Georgia hospital","width":5860,"_id":"PPPOW6V3Z4WPJT6C2T5L4RXQCI","additional_properties":{"fullSizeResizeUrl":"/resizer/mRB0GEwmCUnbDdcicwBfXqZl2ps=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/PPPOW6V3Z4WPJT6C2T5L4RXQCI.jpg","iptc_source":"AJC","comments":[],"iptc_job_identifier":"61eef6a5fcce753d3f1ac0fa","keywords":["omicron","AJC Freelancer","COVID","Northeast Georgia Medical Center","Braselton"],"proxyUrl":"/resizer/mRB0GEwmCUnbDdcicwBfXqZl2ps=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/PPPOW6V3Z4WPJT6C2T5L4RXQCI.jpg","takenOn":"2022-01-25T19:01:26Z","originalUrl":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/PPPOW6V3Z4WPJT6C2T5L4RXQCI.jpg","published":true,"resizeUrl":"/resizer/mRB0GEwmCUnbDdcicwBfXqZl2ps=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/PPPOW6V3Z4WPJT6C2T5L4RXQCI.jpg","thumbnailResizeUrl":"/resizer/l6hO3_gOQR9ofxUI_6tmsedzDI4=/300x0/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/PPPOW6V3Z4WPJT6C2T5L4RXQCI.jpg","version":2,"originalName":"s3://ajc-arc-photo-integration/Freelancer/013022 COVID HOSPITAL HS16.jpg","mime_type":"image/jpeg","restricted":false,"galleries":[],"_id":"GR4IPUYVL5HO5A7TTV2P6HF53M","iptc_title":"staff"},"created_date":"2022-01-27T00:37:58Z","last_updated_date":"2022-01-28T17:57:37Z","slug":"AAJC 013022 HX COVID HOSPITAL","height":3879},{"level":2,"_id":"GHN4S6B4DNAZPO6KJZGIIV53T4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643237012806},"type":"header","content":"‘They are in disbelief’"},{"_id":"4NEMI6AH2BANTITATZPIWOKACI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643321016059},"type":"text","content":"Dr. Hisham Qutob, a pulmonologist and critical care physician, has worked seven days straight, from 6:45 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. At times during surges like this, he’s been on for as many as 21 days straight. Right now, he’s left with little time for his own family."},{"_id":"SRYHGQE5ZFB6RIMG4P6IKL6AS4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643237012803},"type":"text","content":"It often feels like he’s in a war, constantly triaging, constantly delivering hard-to-hear news."},{"_id":"ZXKHXWP7QVFQPKUK5SLVAKJXKY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643312096047},"type":"text","content":"Patients and their loved ones are often surprised that omicron packs such a wallop, said Qutob."},{"_id":"EZMX7MLNLFDUTPCRZJUODRHLXE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643300874529},"type":"text","content":"“I think there is sometimes this feeling of ‘It can’t happen to me,’” he said. “They are in disbelief.”"},{"_id":"KHFAT5AHKRDCJLFWM5INPXTALM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643300874530},"type":"text","content":"Overall, unvaccinated patients make up about 70% of the intensive care unit admissions at Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s hospitals. The ICU patients who are vaccinated tend to be people who are immunocompromised – meaning their immune systems were already weakened by diseases such as cancer, autoimmune disorders or by immunosuppressant drugs."},{"_id":"2PRZWZORQVDCDLMK7T2JELV3YE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643326151789},"type":"text","content":"Unvaccinated COVID-19 patients are far more likely to end up on life support, Qutob said."},{"owner":{"id":"ajc"},"copyright":"2022 Atlanta Journal-Constitution","address":{"locality":"Braselton","region":"GA"},"caption":"Registered nurse Kari Ruis works on a computer as she monitors her patient at the Intensive Care Unit. This past year during the pandemic, she took up long distance running to help fight the stress from the job. She sometimes runs with her colleagues. She recently ran a half-marathon. "It's just a good way to go and get it all out, my frustration and put it into exercise and running," she said. (Hyosub Shin / [email protected])","source":{"system":"AJC Freelancer","name":"AJC Freelancer","edit_url":"","source_type":"wires","source_id":"s3://ajc-arc-photo-integration/Freelancer/013022 COVID HOSPITAL HS21.jpg","additional_properties":{"editor":"photo center"}},"taxonomy":{"associated_tasks":["61eef6a5fcce753d3f1ac0fa"],"seo_keywords":["AJC Freelancer"]},"type":"image","distributor":{"mode":"custom","name":"AJC Freelancer","category":"wires"},"version":"0.10.3","url":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/CGBUOU5QTX7B2GFLUHKERO4VUA.jpg","licensable":false,"credits":{"by":[{"name":"HYOSUB SHIN / AJC","type":"author"}]},"subtype":"Wires","subtitle":"What the omicron wave looks like inside one Georgia hospital","width":6048,"_id":"CGBUOU5QTX7B2GFLUHKERO4VUA","additional_properties":{"fullSizeResizeUrl":"/resizer/GWn3RKBNukrekG8JFHfGGx6YyS8=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/CGBUOU5QTX7B2GFLUHKERO4VUA.jpg","iptc_source":"AJC","comments":[],"iptc_job_identifier":"61eef6a5fcce753d3f1ac0fa","keywords":["omicron","AJC Freelancer","COVID","Northeast Georgia Medical Center","Braselton"],"proxyUrl":"/resizer/GWn3RKBNukrekG8JFHfGGx6YyS8=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/CGBUOU5QTX7B2GFLUHKERO4VUA.jpg","takenOn":"2022-01-25T18:41:40Z","originalUrl":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/CGBUOU5QTX7B2GFLUHKERO4VUA.jpg","published":true,"resizeUrl":"/resizer/GWn3RKBNukrekG8JFHfGGx6YyS8=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/CGBUOU5QTX7B2GFLUHKERO4VUA.jpg","thumbnailResizeUrl":"/resizer/3-fz8CV88j65xmTxkoM_MmsDGDE=/300x0/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/CGBUOU5QTX7B2GFLUHKERO4VUA.jpg","version":2,"originalName":"s3://ajc-arc-photo-integration/Freelancer/013022 COVID HOSPITAL HS21.jpg","mime_type":"image/jpeg","restricted":false,"galleries":[{"headlines":{"basic":"Photos: Inside an ICU during the omicron outbreak"},"_id":"YMXARYLU4ZBQFB6QD5WPQCEQFE"}],"_id":"GY7TFN26WBH6HG6YIW353LYEBM","iptc_title":"staff"},"created_date":"2022-01-27T00:37:39Z","last_updated_date":"2022-01-28T17:57:37Z","slug":"AAJC 013022 HX COVID HOSPITAL","height":4024},{"level":3,"_id":"WVYTMSFCWJAEZH7KNE4SLPXLRY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643237012809},"type":"header","content":"“Still hard”"},{"_id":"RAWMR7MWFJA33DVN5YC5LOPLQY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643312096055},"type":"text","content":"ICU nurse Kari Ruis is typically assigned to two critically ill patients at a time. But, this day, she’ll be concentrating on one: a middle-aged man facing multi-organ failure."},{"_id":"36TNQIIRE5DZ7B3JCZIQHPPWR4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643252117640},"type":"text","content":"He’s undergoing continuous renal replacement therapy, a special type of dialysis for unstable patients. The around-the-clock treatment removes waste and fluid from the body."},{"_id":"BIILR7DOUBDLHPF62RIUTCVRNM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643252117641},"type":"text","content":"Days earlier, the otherwise healthy man was at home, weathering what seemed like relatively mild cold-like symptoms. But he took a sharp turn for the worse. By the time he got to the hospital, his condition was already dire."},{"_id":"ORACFGXDXBF3PGXDJAP5N7CUQQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643236635893},"type":"text","content":"“We hope he’s going to get better,” said Ruis. “He’s not on a ventilator, so that’s a positive.”"},{"_id":"OU33QMF6VNFB5LWA2GOLOX7CKI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643252117643},"type":"text","content":"She paused. “Still hard,” she said quietly."},{"_id":"ORACFGXDXBF3PGXDJAP5N7CUQQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643236635893},"type":"text","content":"The patient developed a gastrointestinal bleed that required a blood transfusion."},{"_id":"QVFP46GJXBEHTPIPCTXDUWJKLE","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"3EH7YSWWRRHQTOXSHWG3AMTLE4"},"type":"raw_html","content":""},{"_id":"ORACFGXDXBF3PGXDJAP5N7CUQQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643236635893},"type":"text","content":"Wearing shiny black clogs and a yellow face mask, she is in and out of his room, all day, checking vital signs that aren’t improving as quickly as she would like."},{"_id":"WZGYXGGSDBBIFHE23RVPNIKX6I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643236635895},"type":"text","content":"Ruis is getting to know her patient. He’s awake and alert. He talks about his family, especially his children."},{"_id":"VATVJT6Y5JAX3BPKBG344FJAM4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643291780525},"type":"text","content":"Connecting with COVID-19 patients in the intensive care units is often tinged with sadness."},{"_id":"IQPV2OZTWVHCVBVPMMH225HPLQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643291780527},"type":"text","content":"“I try to get to know things about their family and just talk to them and just find common ground and build that good relationship,” said nurse Jordan Davis. “And in the back of your head, you know that things aren’t looking good.”"},{"_id":"ORACFGXDXBF3PGXDJAP5N7CUQQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643236635893},"type":"text","content":"In the ICU, problems can mount quickly – cardiovascular issues, blood clots in the lungs, kidney shut-downs."},{"_id":"WR4SZ4A2RJER5F4J36SQCOLASU","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"O5JHKQFCEFDTPEQJP7TJPSR7RA"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Photos: Inside an ICU during the omicron outbreak","url":"https://www.ajc.com/life/photos-inside-an-icu-during-the-omicron-outbreak/YMXARYLU4ZBQFB6QD5WPQCEQFE/"},{"_id":"GEVV3TPETNFABCCNP4YW72S7XU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643296678021},"type":"text","content":"Just as it has been throughout the pandemic, the ICU family waiting room is empty."},{"_id":"FC5D2QHFGVCWVHJVKCX4SGH3NM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643312096073},"type":"text","content":"Because the virus is so contagious, visiting restrictions remain in place at hospitals, though exceptions are made for end-of-life care."},{"_id":"KSDD57TKVVBEVARHIPOVQ7PR2I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643317586263},"type":"text","content":"“It’s really hard for patients to be alone,” said Ruis. “Before the pandemic, they would be able to have families for support. They could lean on us. Now it’s Zoom calls and FaceTime and phone calls, and you hear the family members crying over the phone. It’s really hard to be the one to tell family members you can’t come in, it’s a policy. It’s hard to watch people suffer alone.”"},{"level":2,"_id":"K7ORWQG56BGIVAFSNXOEN22O4A","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643291780533},"type":"header","content":"A special calling"},{"_id":"JB7DCLFQO5FJXD2QHTMP5ZVMA4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643321016081},"type":"text","content":"For Davis, who is 23, her induction to the nursing profession coincided with the pandemic. When Davis was planning her career, this is not what she expected."},{"_id":"VDODM3NYING4JD5IX2UQRUO7OY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643300874517},"type":"text","content":"At times, with some patients, “nothing looks good,” she said. Even if they are placed on a ventilator and given supplemental oxygen to help them breathe, “We can’t give them enough oxygen in the world to be able to help them. The ventilator only goes to 100%. That’s all that exists,” she said."},{"_id":"D5ASSB3AD5BGHEVVZTSDOAOGSQ","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"DARSR46T6NCNRCA6XKUPUDI2TE"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Complete coverage of COVID-19 in Georgia","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/coronavirus/"},{"_id":"JIPUD3ZJIREW3BPFTUU2P5HT44","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643317586267},"type":"text","content":"She feels a special calling and purpose in nursing. 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It’s also a state-designated Confederate memorial that includes Confederate flags and a giant carving of three Confederate leaders, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis."},{"_id":"VBI7K5TT5VCEJMB5DGMAR5YLG4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[{"pos":20,"comment":"C"},{"pos":26,"comment":"which "}],"comments":[],"_id":1643320169700},"type":"text","content":"Stone Mountain, the city, borders the park’s western entrance. It is a quaint old railroad town that has grown to include 6,700 residents, more than three-quarters of which are Black."},{"_id":"IPHEYKIBZVG55CBCPHOWB6ASS4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[{"pos":172,"comment":" let people know the city is not the park"}],"comments":[],"_id":1643325131521},"type":"text","content":"The city was established in 1839, long before the park. AJC reporter Tyler Estep said the city leaders are looking to create their own brand, to distinguish between the two."},{"_id":"GVRMJ3JN6ZGFRI27V4ZZALCCPM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[{"pos":0,"comment":"A n"}],"comments":[],"_id":1643325131522},"type":"text","content":"But newly-elected Mayor Beverly Jones, the first Black woman to hold that job, still wants to attract visitors who come to see the mountain, and capture those dollars for local businesses."},{"_id":"HNTTBSRGQVCEXGMQ65HRWJV6EA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643325131523},"type":"text","content":"Estep wrote: “But she also wants to make clear that the city — which has its own obstacles and history, good and bad — stands by itself.”"},{"_id":"2K7QYUIHDZBTJH7YJRHRGR2HRE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643320169701},"type":"text","content":"Within the city is a National Historic District, centered on either side of Main Street and covering all of downtown. Outside the city limits is a sprawling “postal Stone Mountain” that spills over into unincorporated areas of DeKalb County and neighboring Gwinnett County."},{"_id":"VO4JGVDWH5CORDOQ6242JGFPJY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643320169702},"type":"text","content":"An article on the Georgia tourism website captures the challenge of describing Stone Mountain. Under a photo of Main Street, with the mountain rising in the background, the article says, “Packed with history, memories and natural history, Stone Mountain is sure to be an experience for visitors.”"},{"_id":"YXTOSAQ4XNFTNOWWJTZJVWS57Q","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643325131526},"type":"text","content":"The article describes the setting of Stone Mountain Village, in the city, and its proximity to the park with “3,200 acres of adventure” just 15 miles east of Atlanta. It does not mention the Confederacy. The last line of the article is an invitation: “Come, stay, and enjoy!”"},{"_id":"QNNK6EWJFRBXHGY67SWGMSPA54","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643320169703},"type":"text","content":"A search of Google returns results for both the park and the city, along with questions “people also ask,” including:"},{"list_type":"unordered","_id":"ZRJ5NUIEJRH3BGVXSQDJFDQ4IU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"list","items":[{"_id":"KJCGACYWDZEDDICXMT2AXHQMKY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"block_properties":{},"type":"text","content":"Which city is Stone Mountain in? (see above)"},{"_id":"XBMPCCKPKBGEPJDYEHZSDDD3G4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"block_properties":{},"type":"text","content":"What cities surround Stone Mountain?"},{"_id":"Y5VJST2HDVBXZN3ULJSUIYHKLA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"block_properties":{},"type":"text","content":"Is Stone Mountain real? (Thanks for asking. It is considered a mountain-ish, or more properly a monadnock, a very large stone hill, as are neighboring Arabia and Panola mountains."},{"_id":"FDB5FV5FMNADZG3V2PQIKG37MY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"block_properties":{},"type":"text","content":"Who is on Stone Mountain?"}]},{"level":2,"_id":"4K5QNN6MUVDVFAPPMUJ3RH2VPY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643320169705},"type":"header","content":"On the map"},{"_id":"M2DAZF5OUBAH7HE62JHVM6X22I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643320169706},"type":"text","content":"Here is a map of the Stone Mountain city limits. Stone Mountain Park is just to the east."},{"_id":"FRRU2M4O6RFQBJXWGKPWKDXL2Q","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"MFLOSC34EBFORJJTMRYODEW3FE"},"type":"raw_html","content":""},{"level":2,"_id":"L6YAKGCU7FBFBBPEMTG3GVVKJA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643320169708},"type":"header","content":"Learn more"},{"_id":"QVR7M442T5E6PEEL6OSC2JQXRM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643320169709},"type":"text","content":"Information about visiting Stone Mountain Park"},{"_id":"OSQG7X7S5NE7VASIJSPZ44S2G4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643320169710},"type":"text","content":"Learn about the debate over the park’s Confederate imagery and history"},{"_id":"Z3DD53JQZZDZ7HSKBYPGZXYDAY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643320169711},"type":"text","content":"The disputed sculpture Who is carved on the side of Stone Mountain?"},{"_id":"T3ERKIHJKVDWRKOZE2MTWYOCNA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643320169712},"type":"text","content":"Read about Stone Mountain city and its leaders’ vision for revitalization"},{"_id":"XFTBF6NHFVDH5JZ3L2BORXGD6U","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643320169713},"type":"text","content":"Read about the historic district"}],"display_date":"2022-01-27T23:13:11.616Z","headlines":{"basic":"Where is Stone Mountain? 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Williams also said $6 million will go to improving sewer systems in southeast Atlanta’s Lakewood Heights neighborhood."},{"_id":"OXLCYWMISRHJBOAFWZILRJO6AQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643323323788},"type":"text","content":"“We all agree that rebuilding and repairing our bridges, our roads, as well as our water system, and of course our airport — the world’s busiest — is long overdue for Georgia and our city in particular,” Dickens said."},{"_id":"DPSXIDMO4NG55G276XWAXF6JWI","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"5353UCVKXNALHJ4COJYGJB3RKM"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Atlanta mayor strives to maintain good relationship with Kemp amid gubernatorial race","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/atlanta-mayor-strives-to-maintain-good-relationship-with-kemp-amid-gubernatorial-race/27B2EPU5CVGJLNTJC5JYIRA5FQ/"},{"_id":"DTBT4SN22JHXPFBUFQLSKF2AAI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643323323789},"type":"text","content":"The package also allocates $1 billion for the national reconnecting neighborhoods program, which is designed to address the impact of the 1956 Federal Highway Act. President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law to create the nation’s interstate highways, but it displaced millions of people, including residents in the Atlanta communities of Sweet Auburn, Summerhill, and West End."},{"_id":"BQY7OALASRDDZEVYPQ2PCTTS5I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643323323790},"type":"text","content":"“It’s a matter of racial justice that we get this done because far too often the communities divided were Black neighborhoods, and unfortunately, this was done intentionally,” said Williams, who sponsored the legislation that inspired the reconnecting neighborhoods program."},{"owner":{"id":"ajc"},"copyright":"Atlanta Journal-Constitution","address":{"street_address":"ATLDOT North Avenue facility","locality":"Atlanta","region":"GA"},"caption":"012722 Atlanta: Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens (from left), Congresswoman Nikema Williams and Atlanta Department of Transportation Commissioner Josh Rowan tour the ATLDOT North Avenue facility following a press briefing on how the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will invest in Atlanta’s infrastructure on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / [email protected]”`","source":{"system":"AJC Freelancer","name":"AJC Freelancer","edit_url":"","source_type":"wires","source_id":"s3://ajc-arc-photo-integration/Freelancer/013122LNXICH9.jpg","additional_properties":{"editor":"photo center"}},"taxonomy":{"associated_tasks":["61f1b675fcce753d3f1b73cc"],"seo_keywords":["AJC Freelancer"]},"type":"image","distributor":{"mode":"custom","name":"AJC Freelancer","category":"wires"},"version":"0.10.3","url":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/DMA7QR4VOMFWTIB4WJGYOTKYN4.jpg","licensable":false,"credits":{"affiliation":[{"name":"Curtis Compton / [email protected]","type":"author"}],"by":[{"name":"Curtis Compton / [email protected]","type":"author"}]},"subtype":"Wires","subtitle":"013122 LNX ICH","width":2600,"_id":"DMA7QR4VOMFWTIB4WJGYOTKYN4","additional_properties":{"fullSizeResizeUrl":"/resizer/en2mdTRFiqaJ2A3WgMXDiNqWvj8=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/DMA7QR4VOMFWTIB4WJGYOTKYN4.jpg","iptc_source":"Atlanta Journal-Constitution","comments":[],"iptc_job_identifier":"61f1b675fcce753d3f1b73cc","keywords":["AJC Freelancer","Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act"],"proxyUrl":"/resizer/en2mdTRFiqaJ2A3WgMXDiNqWvj8=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/DMA7QR4VOMFWTIB4WJGYOTKYN4.jpg","takenOn":"2022-01-27T19:58:33Z","originalUrl":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/DMA7QR4VOMFWTIB4WJGYOTKYN4.jpg","published":true,"resizeUrl":"/resizer/en2mdTRFiqaJ2A3WgMXDiNqWvj8=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/DMA7QR4VOMFWTIB4WJGYOTKYN4.jpg","thumbnailResizeUrl":"/resizer/FffF_uD2bxOAg48O-T3bnDwRfQA=/300x0/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/DMA7QR4VOMFWTIB4WJGYOTKYN4.jpg","version":2,"originalName":"s3://ajc-arc-photo-integration/Freelancer/013122LNXICH9.jpg","mime_type":"image/jpeg","restricted":false,"galleries":[],"_id":"UKVGRINZXBDAROX3V6CSK6XSNE","iptc_title":"multimedia journalist"},"created_date":"2022-01-27T22:35:16Z","last_updated_date":"2022-01-27T22:47:30Z","slug":"013122 LNX ICH","height":1781},{"_id":"OH77QS62JFB3RJJ3ETYG2QFST4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643323962823},"type":"text","content":"Rowan said the federal funds will also support job training opportunities for local residents who want to help renovate Atlanta streets and bridges."},{"_id":"RR4LT45LJVCE5C7MA36FSJEJQQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643323323792},"type":"text","content":"That includes infrastructure like the heavily-used Marietta Road bridge, which is adjacent to the North Avenue facility. Rowan also said they want to renovate Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway, which he described as “one of our most dangerous streets” in the city for the last three decades."},{"_id":"HSOAJAQHSRAU7BIQDVZKOXIX6U","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643323323793},"type":"text","content":"“So much good can come from this. 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[email protected]","type":"author"}]},"subtitle":"013122 LNX ICH","width":2600,"caption":"012722 Atlanta: Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens (from left), Congresswoman Nikema Williams and Atlanta Department of Transportation Commissioner Josh Rowan take in a salt barn during a tour of the ATLDOT North Avenue facility following a press briefing on how the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will invest in Atlanta’s infrastructure on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / [email protected]”`","type":"image","url":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/GOJVSZ7LHLZYTRVHW2J2QIWEMQ.jpg","height":1733}},"canonical_url":"/news/atlanta-news/atlanta-officials-eagerly-await-infrastructure-funds-from-12-trillion-federal-package/C4QLRARX35DT3DBH4GMH5LKMGQ/","_id":"C4QLRARX35DT3DBH4GMH5LKMGQ"},{"content_elements":[{"_id":"SWMRFSHBINHMBMJV2PH5GUMDMM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367953},"type":"text","content":"Metro Atlanta added 18,600 jobs in December, returning to its pre-pandemic level with a burst of hiring across much of the economy."},{"_id":"JL5D2JE6ORBP5FU5FSU7XRBM24","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367954},"type":"text","content":"The region, which last year added 141,000 jobs, finished 2021 with especially strong growth in transportation and warehousing, key to the handling, storage and delivery of goods, according to the state Department of Labor."},{"_id":"ME67PXGXGJHVHCOKGWYGXU346Q","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367955},"type":"text","content":"“Job numbers are up across Georgia,” said Mark Butler, the state labor commissioner."},{"_id":"KPOMBIJIIZBIXGQPNQQOM447LU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643313338312},"type":"text","content":"Much of last month’s hiring happened before the omicron variant of COVID-19 tore through the Southeast. Economists warn the recent spike in infections could mean weaker job growth in early 2022."},{"_id":"ME67PXGXGJHVHCOKGWYGXU346Q","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367955},"type":"text","content":"Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate during December ticked up to 2.3% from 2.2% in November, but for an encouraging reason: workers were returning to the workforce."},{"_id":"7GR5QVIW3FFYRO5U3DBSAAXRNI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367957},"type":"text","content":"The jobless rate, which only counts people looking for work, sometimes falls during recessions when discouraged workers stop seeking jobs and sometimes rises when hiring is brisk. December’s increase comes with job openings numerous and wages rising."},{"_id":"FL6MYM5UPRGONEX2L2JQXPSHPI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643313338315},"type":"text","content":"In recent months, the labor market in many sectors has been tilted to the advantage of workers, with more openings than job seekers, said Bert Bean, chief executive of Atlanta-based Insight Global, a national staffing company."},{"_id":"33S5OA6SZNEMDFHZIYPHVLJK2M","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367959},"type":"text","content":"“People have never had this much bargaining power,” he said. “Wages are going up across the board. It is expensive to hire people right now.”"},{"_id":"DJJ5O4DVAJFB3C23FLTTGIY7N4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367960},"type":"text","content":"After catastrophic job losses early in the pandemic, the metro Atlanta economy has added nearly 400,000 jobs and now has slightly more than in February 2020."},{"_id":"L56W2EFDHBD2FAVXQSDO7BMO5E","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367961},"type":"text","content":"“It’s solace,” said economist Tom Smith of Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business. “We just climbed out of the ravine we fell into.”"},{"_id":"DWBHD6C56FFFZAKO4WV66ZP7JI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367962},"type":"text","content":"Returning to that pre-pandemic level is an important mark of progress, he said. “But it isn’t mission accomplished. Just because you get back to the starting line doesn’t mean you have finished the race.”"},{"_id":"BF35RWCHBVDZ3ISBJE2UG5H4QY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367963},"type":"text","content":"In the five years before the pandemic, the number of jobs in metro Atlanta grew at an average pace of 2.4% a year. If the economy had grown at that same pace the past two years, it would have about 111,000 more jobs than it had before the pandemic."},{"_id":"CRVPVDRSIZEF7HFHJWVST2SD64","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367964},"type":"text","content":"More ominously, the winter surge in the omicron variant has hurt many businesses that rely on in-person transactions and events, said John Waldmann, chief executive of Homebase, which uses its scheduling software to track hours worked and business closings."},{"_id":"VEGC43UDU5CRPPQW6NKZOOYFQ4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367965},"type":"text","content":"“What we have seen in January is a decline,” he said."},{"_id":"WKX6THHQN5C2VCEJE3QV3JXEGM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367966},"type":"text","content":"For small companies particularly, the margin between success and failure can be slim, but survivors learn how to adapt, he said. “Over the past two years, it has gotten harder to run a business. But with every wave, businesses get better and better at responding.”"},{"_id":"VMQRFTUJ6VEGNJ5R5P4KS5E6MY","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"S4XJOKVVOFA4FBXUU273ONTY3A"},"type":"divider"},{"_id":"I4LWU24O7RAJXBCWLUXRYY6QHM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643311728177},"type":"text","content":"Metro Atlanta jobs"},{"_id":"6LJCXYGAI5A2TMUPMINH4V3NQA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643311728178},"type":"text","content":"Added, December: 18,600"},{"_id":"AQ3HVDEZVVDMHGXHDE2NZV36WE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643311728179},"type":"text","content":"Average, pre-pandemic December: 1,900"},{"_id":"ASEESXOPI5AOFLRIY3V6X4FZ44","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643311728180},"type":"text","content":"Total jobs, December: 2,882,700"},{"_id":"4MQZ4ROVIJERRJRE3A25LTMQGU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643311728181},"type":"text","content":"Total jobs, pre-pandemic: 2,867,900"},{"_id":"6SCO44H5BJGV7NX757WTNJLK2Y","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643311728182},"type":"text","content":"Labor force, December: 3,157,316"},{"_id":"F5QMM75IT5FANERLAVCTLZYZGQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643311728183},"type":"text","content":"Labor force, pre-pandemic: 3,156,234"},{"_id":"3QLWM536HVCT7MMTVHS52UAO7Q","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643311728184},"type":"text","content":"Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics"},{"_id":"WD26JALPCBA2ZHV6TPU5KESTEA","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"6ZSSPSMD55GH5CXSARQIBY55KM"},"type":"divider"},{"_id":"M2P3RC7AF5C6FOS27WMHU4QNGI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643316103920},"type":"text","content":"Metro Atlanta sectors with the most December job gains"},{"_id":"H32JF6AF5REKDBJH4TGQIQGXM4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367969},"type":"text","content":"Transportation and Warehousing: 5,000"},{"_id":"BMTWA4ROHBDQHC4O5C2HR4D6SY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367970},"type":"text","content":"Retail Trade: 4,400"},{"_id":"ZAXYWJTK75AZLEEN2OGPU5XG6M","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367971},"type":"text","content":"Administrative and Support Services: 2,800"},{"_id":"DBBOBM7XZJB7NG2WGCD6OVPJWY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367972},"type":"text","content":"Wholesale Trade: 1,600"},{"_id":"B4QU3R4VQZBSBABFOWYFZEOIXY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367973},"type":"text","content":"Accommodation and Food Services: 1,300"},{"_id":"P4X27XB35VBPTDKE2YTQEYVI5A","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367974},"type":"text","content":"Non-Durable Goods Manufacturing: 1,200"},{"_id":"WIOOXUYIVVGLZHDQ2OATKPJP6M","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367975},"type":"text","content":"Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services: 1,200"},{"_id":"KJKQ5VMFPRAWBOLT6MFRQNQZEQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367976},"type":"text","content":"Health Care and Social Assistance: 1,200"},{"_id":"UCNKTUU225BFXMOUVMTB5SWF64","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367977},"type":"text","content":"Source: Georgia Department of Labor"},{"_id":"3ILSSLR3YFF4NJ464NPRNV47XY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643310367978},"type":"text","content":"
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The cityhood pushes gained steam after the longtime Republican stronghold flipped to Democratic control in 2020."},{"_id":"2VGYHLBC4RGUHKH337NDJ77I44","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643304362078},"type":"text","content":"Supporters of the new city say they want local control of issues that affect their community — particularly zoning and redevelopment as the county continues to grow around them. 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Dickens says he and Kemp also have different opinions on the state of voting rights locally and nationwide."},{"_id":"2WXUA7WRRRBF3P3L4V4PSH4FJY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643235528684},"type":"text","content":"“I’m disappointed in some of the things that we do as a state to harm free and open access to the polls for everybody,” Dickens said."},{"_id":"6KDC3RKPFBFJVE7IPVSHWE3KYA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1642698349943},"type":"text","content":"Dickens told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that when the time comes, he and Kemp will convene to discuss their disagreements to see if they can find common ground."},{"_id":"RGX6QIPX2JAFXID6VH6GVB27HY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643128817469},"type":"text","content":"“I’ll continue to disagree and be forceful about my position on policy,” Dickens said. “If we don’t come to an agreement, it’ll be about policy, or program, but it won’t be about the person. 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According to court filings, the office wants to look at emails and text messages sent over a three-year period."},{"_id":"PNYREX4WHFFQHJYOT73XMWPDUE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643208090429},"type":"text","content":"The motion also reads, “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is conducting a criminal investigation of the attorney.”"},{"_id":"4JIZXTRO5JFZ3MJMEGMOJIROPU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643114699421},"type":"text","content":"Coomer, the former majority whip of the state House of Representatives, voluntarily agreed to a suspension in December 2019 when Georgia’s judicial watchdog agency filed ethics charges against him. Since then, Coomer has been suspended with pay — he earned $196,000 in 2020 — while Senior Judge Herbert Phipps filled in."},{"_id":"UXSD5YXWPZFPVCBI5NWE33S75Q","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643114699422},"type":"text","content":"Coomer’s legal troubles began in earnest in March 2020 when a former client, 78-year-old Jim Filhart, sued him alleging fraud and legal malpractice. The suit said Filhart gave two loans totaling $289,000 to a holding company controlled by Coomer with extremely favorable terms to Coomer. At that time, Coomer was a private attorney."},{"_id":"ZH24YW2IP5HLLH6ISVMCZNYMHI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643114699423},"type":"text","content":"One of the loans, for $159,000, was to be paid off when Filhart would have been 106 years old, if he lived that long. Coomer also prepared wills for Filhart that would have given Coomer access to nearly all of Filhart’s estate, the suit said."},{"_id":"UKNBYLLZBBGRHK7DVEE6O3QMNM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643232963825},"type":"text","content":"After the suit was filed, Coomer told the AJC, “I completely and utterly deny the allegations of fraud. I can’t deny it strongly enough, because it’s absolutely untrue.”"},{"_id":"UYWZTJGRSBBLJHXICD2ZNPDHII","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643114699424},"type":"text","content":"Coomer settled the lawsuit with Filhart months later, paying him back in full."},{"_id":"ARXMNC5ZRFHUNGDK2REI47QBFY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643114699425},"type":"text","content":"In October 2020, the state ethics commission filed a separate complaint against Coomer. It alleged he violated state campaign finance laws by improperly transferring almost $22,000 from his former House campaign account into his personal checking account as well as his law firm’s bank account when it was low on funds."},{"_id":"CKAPO3M33FCAZJJKZ3SSHO53UQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643114699426},"type":"text","content":"In December, Coomer settled the ethics commission case by agreeing to pay a $25,000 fine."},{"_id":"3N6KPAYZKZCS7C5GHVPGOUOGTU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643114699427},"type":"text","content":"The state Judicial Qualifications Commission charges remain pending against Coomer. When they were filed, Coomer’s civil attorneys, Dennis Cathey and Doug Chalmers, said the judge “strongly denies” the allegations."},{"_id":"RKCAXDIFIBHUJA6Z4C547ADZYA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643131719002},"type":"text","content":"The JQC complaint alleges the judge, when he was a lawyer, used his position to profit from Filhart’s estate and borrowed money from him on unfair terms. It also also accuses Coomer of repeatedly violating campaign finance laws."},{"_id":"EG5Q6GLLM5DX3ARHQ5SH7WMPM4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643114699428},"type":"text","content":"In another allegation, the JQC said the day after the AJC first reported the lawsuit filed by Filhart against Coomer, Coomer submitted a mortgage application to SWBC Mortgage Corporation to get funds by refinancing his home. Those funds were ultimately used to help pay off Filhart’s loans, the JQC filing said."},{"_id":"M63OQJTQL5CSDP4MEMBKJUOR7Y","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643114699429},"type":"text","content":"The mortgage application required Coomer to list all his outstanding liabilities, yet he did not list the loans owed to Filhart in the application, the JQC filing said."},{"_id":"25NTKGW4SVAWRM2WZXW3YJMOU4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643131719005},"type":"text","content":"Coomer’s attorneys sought to get the complaint dismissed, contending he could not be disciplined for conduct that occurred before he became a judge. 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The judge also set up a review process for the production of communications related to the ongoing criminal investigation and the protection of those unrelated to it."},{"_id":"YXX7C4NIPZGHVOYRY3LLX2LYHM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643131719009},"type":"text","content":"Staff writer J. 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Now out of office, Ott said they would often meet up for breakfast to talk about their personal lives and a bit about politics. Ott said Boyce was energetic in his role as commissioner, and also at their church."},{"_id":"TVIX2EG5IBA6ZPW64OKWITYKZY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643225003367},"type":"text","content":"Boyce became more active at Mt. Bethel following his retirement, Ray said, working in the recreation department painting lines on fields and coaching children. Boyce served 30 years in the Marines, retiring as a Colonel who’d toured all over the world."},{"_id":"M7Z2POCILZB43PEUREE3BLJUWI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643225003368},"type":"text","content":"The pastor remembers the mother of a young Marine reached out to Boyce saying her son was having trouble. Boyce called the young man, telling him to meet at Columns Drive in one hour, Ray said. The pair ran miles together. And Boyce told him it would be tough, but he’d be just fine."},{"_id":"BLOWIOSQLVH4VCBS4MIUMFYBCI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643225475659},"type":"text","content":"Now a successful Marine, that young man called Ray wanting to volunteer for Boyce’s ceremony."},{"_id":"Q7M6MAMU6ZEDLKVI4JC7LICN2Q","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643225003369},"type":"text","content":"“When you were around Mike, you were the most important person standing in front of him at that moment,” Ray said."},{"owner":{"id":"ajc"},"workflow":{"status_code":4},"caption":"Mike Boyce hugs Cobb State Court Judge Marsha Lake after he was sworn in. At right is his wife, Judy. In a ceremony at the Cobb Civic Center, Mike Boyce was sworn in as Cobb County’s next chair. 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Erick Allen, D-Smyrna."},{"_id":"W36UQCUVVZAFVA2IVRVAYPFF2I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643225003379},"type":"text","content":"Tuesday night’s Cobb Board of Commissioners meeting began with a moment of silence for Boyce, who became the subject of impromptu tributes throughout the evening."},{"_id":"YZZFODE6N5H2NKUCLASVDE26TU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643225003380},"type":"text","content":"Chairwoman Lisa Cupid, a Democrat who defeated Boyce when he sought re-election in 2020, said his death was “devastatingly sad news.”"},{"_id":"DM3M7JA4Y5DTBORA2ANOYBEVRE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643225003381},"type":"text","content":"“You always saw him at some community event doing something to serve someone,” Cupid said."},{"_id":"TUMBJ6IFNJAL7GPKF6KCVKDAMM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643225003382},"type":"text","content":"“...When you’re in this seat, the county is your life.”"},{"_id":"2KH74UKZ3FCUJP3HKINAUY7PI4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1643225003383},"type":"text","content":"Staff writer Brian Eason contributed to this story."},{"_id":"SXICJMPE5JGCVLZLZJXPQOWXFM","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"Y5KEVQ5YMFBUXFZWQBOEXP4VQI"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Read and sign the online guestbook for Mike Boyce","url":"https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/atlanta/name/mike-boyce-obituary?pid=201240522&cid=view"},{"owner":{"sponsored":false,"id":"ajc"},"address":{},"syndication":{},"caption":"Cobb Commission Chairman Mike Boyce and his wife Judy attend a recent farewell reception for him and for Commissioner Bob Ott at the Cobb County Civic Center. 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