ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Soon after President Donald Trump issued guidelines for states to begin reopening the nation’s economy, Georgia will be among the first to enter the first phase of re-opening during the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
This comes as 733 people have died from COVID-19 and the number of confirmed cases has risen to 18,947 as of noon on April 20.
Governor Brian Kemp announced certain businesses will be allowed to open over the next week, but with restrictions. On Friday, April 24, businesses that allow personal contact, like gyms, barber shops, hair salons, massage parlors and elective surgery and therapy clinics will be allowed to open, according to Kemp.
He said dine-in restaurants will be allowed to open on Monday, April 27.
Kemp said the restrictions these businesses must follow include adherence to minimum basic operations, like screening workers for fevers and respiratory illness, wearing gloves and masks if appropriate, social distancing, and sanitation.
At the press conference, Kemp was joined by Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, House Speaker David Ralston, Georgia National Guard Adjutant Tom Carden and Dr. Kathleen Toomey with the Georgia Department of Public Health. Ralston said officials feel they have “struck a good balance in terms of putting people back to work.”
Kemp referenced rotting crops, struggling farmers, people out of work, businesses suffering and the failing economy before detailing plans to enter Phase 1 of three phases of re-opening the state. He said the state is on track for meeting certain criteria for entering the first phase, which include taking targeted action to combat the virus.
He and Dr. Toomey said data shows emergency room visits have drastically reduced and deaths are declining dramatically. They also said the state has been able to provide more testing, which Kemp said is a key component of meeting the Phase 1 criteria. Toomey said a rolling total of COVID-19 cases shows the pandemic is reaching a plateau.
In terms of testing, Kemp announced plans to roll out a free telemedicine app through Augusta University within the next week that will allow people to get screened through their smartphones. Kemp said access to the screening results would be available in 24 hours, and he said healthcare staff will schedule tests for those who meet the testing criteria. Kemp also said physicians will be available 24/7 for assistance.
Click on the video to watch the full briefing.