ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — While the estimated COVID-19 peak date has frequently changed, Governor Brian Kemp mentioned in an April 13 briefing it is now expected to take place on April 26.

However, when asked if he intends to lift any statewide restrictions related to the coronavirus, including re-opening businesses or lifting the statewide shelter in place, he said it was too soon to make those decisions.

Kemp said his administration is currently focused on hospital surge capacity, the ability to test more people and protecting the most vulnerable citizens.

Kemp was joined by Georgia National Guard General Adjutant Tom Carden, Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey, and Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Director Homer Bryson.

They addressed efforts to increase coronavirus testing, preparations for a surge in hospital capacity before the peak date and concerns about COVID-19 cases in long term care facilities.

Dr. Toomey acknowledged Georgia is lagging behind in COVID-19 testing, indicating the state ranks 45 out of 50 in terms of the number of people tested. She and Kemp discussed ongoing efforts to ramp up testing ahead of the peak date.

Kemp referenced a new partnership with Jackson Healthcare to help meet workforce needs in the industry, saying they plan to add 570 additional health care professionals around the state.

Toomey said demographic information was not properly collected for thousands of the COVID-19 tests done, including race. She said DPH is now actively making sure that data is collected to provide a more accurate picture of the demographics most affected by the virus.

Kemp said the state is expanding the testing criteria to include “symptomatic critical infrastructure workers and asymptomatic individuals who have had direct contact with positive coronavirus patients, including their family members.” He said they will also continue prioritizing those with symptomatic health conditions, first responder, health care workers, law enforcement, and long term facility staff members.

Today, Kemp issued an order suspending the state’s anti-mask statute, which will prevent law enforcement officers from enforcing the rule against wearing masks as the CDC is urging people to do during the pandemic. This comes after Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a similar administrative order in Atlanta, following an incident she referenced on Twitter.

General Carden gave an update on the Georgia National Guard’s efforts to clean medical and long term facilities.

Click on the video to watch the full briefing.

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