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Bare shelves, school closures, elections moved
The bread aisle at Walmart was stripped bare during the chaotic shopping sprees spurred on by the corona virus pandemic.

Last week we moved our clocks up an hour, experienced a full moon and ended the week on Friday the 13th.

Yet all that was mild in comparison to the chaos and panic being caused by the novel corona virus COVID-19. The moment President Donald Trump declared a national emergency due to the pandemic, people flocked to the store to gather supplies. Within hours there was no bread, cleaning supplies and not one roll of toilet paper in sight throughout Hinesville.

“My daughter couldn’t believe that she was looking at the empty shelves at the commissary,” Irene Simmons noted after sending a photo of the blank shelves to the Courier.

Hailey Halstead said she and her husband left their home to go shopping immediately after Trump made the declaration.

“The toilet paper was gone, baby wipes and formula gone, and zero bread left,” Halstead said adding the store was packed.

“The hysteria was real,” William Robinson said.

Walmart along with several other big chain grocery stores are changing their store hours in response to COVID-19 to help keep the stores clean and give employees time to properly restock shelves.

Dacona Smith, Walmart executive vice president and chief operating officer, released a statement March 14, saying, “To better support our associates and serve our customers, we will adjust our operating hours beginning Sunday, March 15. Walmart stores and Neighborhood Markets will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. until further notice. This will help ensure associates are able to stock the products our customers are looking for and to perform cleaning and sanitizing. Stores currently operating under more reduced hours (for example they regularly close at 10 p.m. or open at 7 a.m.) will keep their current hours of operation. As we make this change, associates will continue to work the hours and shifts they are scheduled, and our supply chain and trucking fleet will continue to move products and deliver to stores on their regular schedules.”

Looking to curtail the spread of the virus people are being advised to practice “social distancing,” by staying at least six feet away from people, stay at home as much as possible, avoid large crowd gatherings and work remotely if able.

In Long County the Board of Education has already announced a plan for school closures starting March 23 which extends the previously scheduled spring break which goes until April 10.

Liberty County Board of Education has not announced school closures yet, but all after school events and activities are cancelled until further notice in both counties.    Liberty County school is out until March 18 as part of a previously planned break. The LCSS will decide prior to March 18 what their course of action will be.

 Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes announced that due to the coronavirus, “The Liberty County Jail is taking all necessary precautions to protect the inmates as well as the employees. Until further notice, all family visitation has been suspended. Only necessary legal visits will be authorized.”

Sikes said this measure of precaution is in line with state protocols.

Liberty County Clerk of Courts Linda Dixson Thompson said Chief Superior Court Judge Robert L. Russell of the Atlantic Judicial Circuit has issued an order to suspend civil and criminal hearings, trials, etc. for the next 30 days.

Thompson said the risks are simply too great with the influx of people that will be present for jury panels, witnesses, parties, lawyers.

The list of hearings cancelled can be found here:

At the state level COVID-19 has forced Georgia to join Louisiana and others in changing the date of the upcoming March 24 presidential primary.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger said in a press release that the state will move the March 24 Presidential Primary ahead to May 19. “In person voting presents increased risks to voters and poll workers,” he said.

Raffensberger noted many poll workers are in the high-risk group because their average age is over 70. “Maintaining the integrity of the election depends on the talents of poll workers,” he said. “So, concern for their health is a central consideration in this decision.”

Raffensberger said that Georgians who have already cast their vote in person or by mail for the March 24 primary will be able to vote again May 19 for the elections already scheduled for that date.

“If Georgians who have already cast their vote for the March 24 primary do not vote again in the May 19 primary, their votes for the presidential preference primary will still count,” he said.

As of noon Sunday, there are 99 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state of Georgia per the Georgia Department of Public Health. There are no confirmed cases in Liberty, Long, Bryan, Chatham and McIntosh Counties.

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