Over 23K students, staff forced to quarantine in Atlanta metro area

More than 23,000 Atlanta-area students and staff are in quarantine just weeks into the school year, WSB-TV reported.

WSB-TV reported that the number of those forced to quarantine could be higher because some districts have opted not to release their coronavirus numbers. 

Of the districts that have released their data, Fulton County schools reported 6,233 of their students are either quarantining or tested positive, Gwinnett County has 2,337 students and staff in quarantine and Atlanta Public Schools has 2,035 students and staff in quarantine, according to WSB.

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Another Georgia county announced Friday they are shutting down for two weeks to combat a surge in coronavirus cases. 

The news comes after Georgia Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey recommended in a letter Thursday that schools allowing students exposed to COVID-19 to continue attending school require them to wear masks until they are finished quarantining, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed an executive order Thursday barring local governments from enacting mask or vaccine mandates for businesses. 

The state has seen an explosion of new coronavirus cases, according to data collected by The New York Times. Altogether, Georgia has seen a 71 percent increase in coronavirus cases within the last 14 days, and as of Friday, the state's daily average number of cases was at 7,596, with 5,080 patients hospitalized. 

Georgia also has one of the lowest vaccination rates of any state in the country, with less than 50 percent of its total population vaccinated. 

The Hill has reached out to the city of Atlanta for comment.