GEORGIA — During a press conference Monday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp closed bars and nightclubs, banned groups of more than 10 people, and issued a shelter-in-place order for those who are medically fragile until April 6.
The Georgia Department of Public Health will now be able to close businesses or nonprofits, including churches, that don’t follow the new orders.
Kemp said businesses and grocery stores that can maintain a six-foot distance between customers can remain open.
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“This order will close all bars and nightclubs, and it will ban all gatherings of 10 or more people unless you can maintain at least six feet between people at all times,” Kemp said. “The Department of Public Health will be empowered to close any business, establishment, non-profit, or organization for noncompliance. These measures were developed using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Georgia Department of Public Health. This order will go into effect at noon Tuesday and expire at noon on Monday, April 6.
“These measures are intended to ensure the health and safety of Georgians across our state, and I ask for everyone’s cooperation over the next two weeks. They will protect the medically fragile, mitigate potential exposure in public venues, and allow the state to ramp up emergency preparedness efforts as cases increase in each region.”
Medically fragile people, including those who have coronavirus, are suspected to have it, people in long-term care facilities or people with suppressed immune systems to shelter-in-place.
“Today I will issue an executive order requiring the Department of Public Health to require certain individuals with an increased risk of complications from COVID-19 to isolate, quarantine, or shelter in place,” Kemp said. “At minimum, this order for isolation, quarantine, or shelter in place covers those who live in a long-term care facility, have chronic lung disease, are undergoing cancer treatment, have a positive COVID-19 test, are suspected to have COVID-19 because of their symptoms and exposure, or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19. The Department of Public Health will promulgate rules and regulations to implement this order and define how these individuals can access essential services, travel, and receive visitors in end-of-life circumstances.”
Kemp, who has ordered all Georgia schools closed through March 31, made no mention of a possible reopening date, or extending the closures.
“Where feasible, some school systems have moved to online learning, and I applaud local leaders for finding ways to keep students engaged,” Kemp said. “Also, I want to thank the nutritionists, bus drivers, and volunteers who are packing and delivering school lunches to students across our state.”
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Over the past few days, the number of coronavirus cases has dramatically increased, Kemp said.
“Currently, we have 772 cases in 67 counties,” Kemp said. “We are starting to see the impact of coronavirus on medically fragile populations in long-term care facilities. State health and emergency management officials are working tirelessly to conduct testing, bolster capacity in our healthcare infrastructure, and prepare as we address the challenge before us.”
“This fight is far from over, but we are in this together. Look out for your fellow Georgians and pray for the continued safety of our first responders, healthcare workforce, elderly, and medically fragile.
“Please continue to follow the guidance of healthcare professionals by using best practices – regular hand-washing, social distancing, and disinfecting frequently used areas to prevent infection.
“While we have taken strategic, direct action today, I am calling on my fellow citizens to fight this virus with everything you’ve got. We are all part of this solution. If your friends, neighbors, or local organizations are not complying, call them out, or report them to us. If an establishment isn’t following these directives, take your business elsewhere.”
Kemp gave numbers of how many medical supplies that state has and what has been distributed. Over the weekend, the state distributed 268,200 N95 surgical masks to all 142 hospitals within Georgia. Earlier today, it distributed 30 ventilators to two of the state’s hardest-hit counties: Dougherty and Floyd.
“To date, we have executed three re-supplies to the state’s 142 hospitals and 18 health districts,” Kemp said. “We shipped 532,170 masks, 65,640 face shields, 640,600 surgical masks, 46,740 gowns, 635,000 gloves, and 64 pallets of general hospital supplies. According to U.S. Health and Human Services, Georgia will receive a second delivery of PPE within the next five days. GEMA has placed an order for respirators, which are scheduled to be delivered to the state’s warehouse this Friday. GEMA continues to place orders for supplies and resources to support front line healthcare providers and first responders.”
Several hospitals are facing potential bed space shortages and supply issues, Kemp said. Right now, one of the state’s biggest challenges is healthcare capacity in hotspots across the state. For example, in Dougherty County, Kemp said there are currently 64 cases with six deaths from coronavirus, and capacity is becoming an acute problem for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.
“To address these problems, we have identified multiple options to bolster capacity,” he said. “For example, in Dougherty County, emergency management officials are working to reopen Phoebe North, which is currently closed but will offer at least 26 rooms for patients once we get it back up and running. In Albany, we have identified an additional facility with capacity for roughly 60 medical and isolation beds if needed. In addition, we have asked federal officials to allow us to keep the temporary medical facility at Dobbins Air Reserve Base. Once cruise ship passengers depart, we are hopeful that we will have this location in the metro-area for patient diversion. It will offer roughly 200 patient beds if needed.”
Limited Coronavirus Testing Site Opens Monday In Cherokee County
He said there are 23 testing sites around the state, including in Woodstock which opened today. At this time, testing is not open to the public.
“To be tested at one of these locations, you must have a referral from a medical provider,” Kemp said. “Tests are limited to elderly Georgians, members of the law enforcement community, first responders, long-term care facility residents and staff, and healthcare workers. We must protect those who are protecting us, and that is why we have these new testing sites in strategic locations statewide.”
Atlanta Mayor’s Stay At Home Order Delayed By Gov. Kemp
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she has a stay-at-home order for the city of Atlanta ready to execute, but she’s been asked by Kemp to hold off for now. Bottoms shared the news with city council members Monday, reports WXIA.
“I have in place an executive order that will essentially create – it’s a stay-at-home order for the City of Atlanta,” Mayor Bottoms told council members.
“I had a conversation with the governor this morning” Bottoms told council members. “The governor is expected to make additional announcements this afternoon. He has asked that I hold off on signing that order until I hear his additional recommendations or his additional orders for the state. I have agreed to do that.”
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GA Coronavirus: 700 Cases, 25 Deaths; ‘Point Of No Return’
As of Monday, there have been 772 positive coronavirus cases and 25 deaths in Georgia. The number of confirmed and presumed positive cases of COVID-19 rose from 420 positive cases and 13 deaths on Friday to 600 cases and 23 deaths across 58 counties on Sunday morning.
The DPH released the numbers of tests taken across the state, which totaled more than 5,000.
There have been 3,824 tests done in a commercial lab, with 608 coming in with positive results. The Department of Public Health Lab has done 1,245 tests and had 164 positives.
Fulton County has the most cases in the state with 145, followed by Cobb County with 79, DeKalb with 75, Dougherty with 64, Bartow with 61, Gwinnett with 34, Carroll with 21, Cherokee with 20, Clayton with 18, Lee with 16, Clarke with 14, Richmond with 11, and Fayette, Floyd and Hall with 10 each.
Globally, more than 372,000 people have been infected and more than 16,000 people have died from the new coronavirus, Johns Hopkins reported Monday. Of that total, more than 42,800 confirmed cases are in the United States. More than 570 deaths in the U.S. have been tied to the virus outbreak, as of Monday.