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First Georgia patient, 67-year-old man, dies from coronavirus
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is depicted in an illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020. - photo by Associated Press

Georgia has seen its first death from coronavirus.

The 67-year-old man was hospitalized at WellStar Kennestone since testing positive for the virus on March 7. He also had underlying medical conditions, according to a press release from Gov. Brian Kemp’s office.

"Marty, the girls, and I are praying for the family and loved ones of this individual during this incredibly difficult time," Kemp said in a statement. "I know the medical professionals on site did everything that they could, and I greatly appreciate their efforts. As our state continues to address this pandemic, I urge Georgians to remain calm and support their neighbors and communities. We are in this fight together."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from the virus, including adults 60 or older and people with serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.

The Governor’s Office advises that high-risk populations be ready to stay at home to limit exposure, asking health care providers about having extra prescription medication on hand, and stocking up on over-the-counter medicines to treat fevers and other symptoms. It is also recommended to have two weeks of household items, groceries and water.

House Democrats in the General Assembly on Thursday called for lawmakers to adjourn their annual session early, rather than keep meeting into early April. 

Republican House Speaker David Ralston said he's meeting with Kemp and Senate leaders in light of worsening news and due to concerns about large crowds gathering, as happens every day lawmakers are in session.

"We are at the present time re-evaluating where we go," Ralston said. "I think the best thing to do at this point in time is to err on the side of caution."

Georgia has been tracing contacts for 31 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 across about a dozen counties. Separately, 124 passengers flown in from the Grand Princess in California are in a two-week quarantine at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Cobb County, northwest of Atlanta, CDC spokesman Bert Kelly said.

For most people, this coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, but for a few, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illnesses, including pneumonia.

Georgia's cases are spread across the state, from Floyd County in northwest Georgia to Lowndes and Charlton counties near the Florida line, according to an update late Wednesday from Kemp's office. Other cases are from Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Fayette, Fulton, Lee and Polk counties.

Some of the tests still await confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A string of large events were canceled this week. Among them: Savannah's St. Patrick's Day parade, called off for the first time in nearly a century.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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