ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Governor Brian Kemp said he’s leaving it up to the localities on whether to issue mandatory quarantines, business closures, or a shelter-in-place, indicating there are no current plans to make statewide requirements. Atlanta and other localities have issued orders for restaurants and other businesses to close.
He discussed this and other topics while giving a COVID-19 update during an online press conference this afternoon. Kemp was joined by Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey.READ MORE: Environmental group's annual sunscreen guide released
Kemp said the state is also not issuing an order for utility companies to suspend any disconnection of service to customers, although individual companies have decided to.
He addressed the school closures forcing children to be at home, the many Georgians are working remotely, and the limited public gatherings and hospital capacities.
“I will tell you there are no easy answers, and the guidance continues to change as we fight to stop the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
He discussed how the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased statewide in just one day from 197 to 287 in 36 counties as of this afternoon. The DPH confirmed at least 10 people have now died. Kemp said they’re looking into confirmed cases at long term care facilities.
He provided the list of counties where the deaths have occurred:
- Early 1
- Fayette 1
- Dougherty County 4
- Floyd 1
- Fulton 2
- Cobb 1
According to Kemp, the DPH state lab has conducted 508 tests with 113 positive results, and commercial labs have conducted over 1,300 COVID-19 tests with 174 positive results.
Dr. Toomey said the number of confirmed cases has increased dramatically as more testing is being done, and as coronavirus continues to spread in the community.
Toomey said the state has 500 newly-purchased test specimen collection kits that will be distributed across the state. These are used to collect the specimens that are sent to the lab. She said Cherokee County, because of its central location, and Albany were selected as high capacity testing sites, where they hope to do 100 tests a day once they’re up and running. She said many cases have emerged from people attending church services, as officials continue urging people to consider viewing church services online. Toomey also confirmed the statewide testing is still limited to the most vulnerable citizens.READ MORE: What Taylor Swift tells grads at NYU commencement speech
Kemp referenced White House reports that vaccine development and antiviral therapies are moving along, and encouraged prioritizing COVID-19 testing for the most vulnerable citizens: the elderly, those with chronic illness, first responders and healthcare workers.
“The best way to serve the public is to protect those who are protecting us.” said Kemp.
Kemp also discussed his recent decision to declare a public health state of emergency in Georgia authorizing the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) to work with the National Guard to activate up to 2,000 troops for emergency preparedness as needed. He said he is also working with federal officials to address ongoing medical and testing supply shortages.
There are 209 Grand Princess cruise passengers remaining at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, according to Kemp. He said officials are working to get them home to their respective states.
Kemp addressed concerns about healthcare workers needing child care. He said Georgia currently has 916 child care programs open and said 1,100 are closed.
When asked about State Senator Brandon Beach reportedly testing positive for coronavirus, after going to the Capitol while showing symptoms, Kemp said, “It’s a good example of why people should follow advice of medical provider,” adding, “stay at home if you are sick.” He said the advice extends to those wanting to attend funerals, as he said it is creating a hotspot for spreading the virus statewide.
Kemp said the state is still following the issue of people losing work and jobs while expecting the number of coronavirus cases to continue increasing.
Kemp urged the public to continue following the recommendations of:
- Washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds
- Practicing social distancing
- Protecting the elderly and chronically ill
- If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, call an urgent care clinic or doctor first, before showing up.
He also urges people to watch out for scams and referenced a new hotline where you can get COVID-19 resources and accurate information at 1-844-442-2681.