Gov. Kemp Urges Calm, Announces Coronavirus Task Force Subcommittees
Atlanta, GA – This afternoon, Governor Brian P. Kemp held a press conference to provide an update on COVID-19. The Governor was joined by Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, Speaker David Ralston, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey, Adjutant General Tom Carden, Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John King, and Governor's Coronavirus Task Force members.
To view the livestream of the press conference, click HERE.
During the press conference, Governor Kemp addressed the following topics:
Coordination with Georgia's Schools
Local school systems have already implemented some limited closures in specific areas to deal with recent presumed positive and confirmed cases of COVID-19. During the press conference, Governor Kemp made it clear that day cares, schools, and school districts have the freedom to implement further closures as early as Friday, March 13, for the next two weeks.
"The Georgia Department of Education, University System of Georgia, Technical College System, and local school leaders have been invaluable partners to determine the best measures to protect students, teachers, and administrators," said Governor Kemp. "We believe in local control for all systems when it comes to making the best decisions for their communities. They have flexibility, and regardless of whether they stay open or decide to close, we will support their decision."
New Guidelines for State Employees
At this time, state government and the Georgia State Capitol will remain open. However, Governor Kemp is immediately suspending nonessential travel and implementing telework policies for most state employees.
"This is the right thing to do," said Governor Kemp. "This arrangement will prevent substantial disruption of service to our constituents and mitigate risk. We will be sending out guidance to all agency leaders to ensure that they have the right plans in place for implementation."
Specific Department Directives
Until April 10, 2020, the Departments of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Corrections, Juvenile Justice, and Veterans Services facilities will suspend visitation except for next of kin in end-of-life situations.
"This decision wasn't made lightly," said Governor Kemp. "These populations are in close contact, some with underlying health conditions that - if exposed to COVID-19 - could result in serious medical problems or cause widespread infection to those in close proximity."
New Governor's Coronavirus Task Force Committees
Emergency Preparedness Committee: Chaired by General John King, this committee will analyze the availability of necessary supplies and evaluate logistical needs. Their job will be to lay the groundwork for supply chain needs in the weeks ahead.
Economic Impact Committee: Chaired by State Economist Jeffrey Dorfman, this committee will work with leaders in academia, business, and lawmakers on preparing for the short-and-long-term impacts of the virus on the Georgia economy.
Primary Care Physicians Committee: Chaired by State Senator Ben Watson (R - Savannah), chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, this committee of public and private healthcare experts will work to ensure that the best decisions are being made for the healthcare community as they mitigate this crisis.
Committee for the Homeless and Displaced: Chaired by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, this committee will ensure adequate shelter, resources, and care for vulnerable populations in Georgia.
"In the days ahead, we'll announce the full committee member lists," said Governor Kemp. "I'm looking forward to working with all of them to address this health challenge facing Georgia families."
If a doctor or medical provider has recommended isolation or quarantine, it is critical to follow their advice to prevent the spread of the virus, even for those who may not be experiencing symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness, including older adults (60+ years of age) and people with serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.
If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is important for you to be prepare now in the event of community outbreak of COVID-19. Be ready to stay at home for an extended period to limit your exposure to the virus. Ask your health care provider about having extra prescription medication on hand and stock up on over-the-counter medicines to treat fevers and other symptoms. Be sure you have two weeks of household items, groceries, and water so that you do not have to leave home.
The best prevention measures for all ages against any respiratory virus are:
Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds.
If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
If you have recently traveled to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 and develop fever with cough and shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel, or if you have had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, stay home and call your health care provider or local health department right away. Be sure to call before going to a doctor’s office, emergency room, or urgent care center and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
For accurate and reliable information about COVID-19 log on to https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
For a full archive of COVID-19 press conferences, visit gov.georgia.gov/news.