ATLANTA — Georgia Governor Brian Kemp addressed the state Monday evening with updates on measures being taken in hopes to decrease the spread of the coronavirus. As the confirmed cases of COVID-19 reach 800 a ban on large gatherings was placed including bars and nightclubs.
Monday’s Executive Orders span a large variety of topics and state agencies. Kemp has banned gatherings of 10 or more unless there can be at least six feet between each person. This includes businesses except for grocery stores and pharmacies. Kemp signed an executive order that gives the Georgia Department of Public Health the power to close any business or other entities such as churches that have more than 10 people gathered in which they cannot guarantee at least six feet distance apart. This order goes into effect at noon on Tuesday, March 24 and expires on April 6, 2020.
Some hospitals in the state are already rapidly approaching capacity prompting Kemp to call for medical providers to cancel any non-essential procedures to keep beds and medical equipment free for those suffering from the virus. Kemp has also been working with other government agencies to identify places where medical facilities could be put into duty should the need arise. Additional supplies have arrived at the state’s warehouse and been deployed to the state’s 142 hospitals, eighteen public health districts, long-term care facilities, and emergency medical services in all 159 counties.
An ever-increasing number of the residents of the state are being laid off due to the pandemic and are seeking government assistance. Kemp says that the State has seen online applications for those who would like to receive SNAP or food stamp benefits almost double in the past two weeks. Those numbers do not include those who applied with a paper application. Up 50% are applications for those seeking medical assistance such as Peachcare for Kids or Medicaid.
To address this big increase in those seeking help, Gov. Kemp states, “To assist in other areas, the state is reassigning staff and working with federal partners to address the sudden increase in requests for public assistance as quickly as possible. We will continue to provide updates as we identify solutions for our constituents.”
The Governor is increasing SNAP benefits for those who receive the extra assistance. Those who receive it will get an extra $100 in benefits that they will receive in April. Supplemental benefits will also be sent to those in the SNAP program for March, which will be deposited in their SNAP account at the end of this month.
During Kemp’s address, he thanked those who have heeded the shelter in place guidelines issued by the CDC. “I am deeply thankful to the hardworking Georgians who have incorporated social distancing into their everyday lives and protected the elderly and medically fragile from unnecessary exposure,” says Kemp. “To all of the local leaders, the faith community, and others who embraced this call to action, thank you. Your leadership and hard work are flattening the curve and keeping people out of harm’s way.”
The Governor went on to commend school systems for their response to the pandemic saying, “I applaud local leaders for finding ways to keep students engaged.”
The North Gwinnett Voice reached out to local State Senator Renee Unterman for her thoughts about Gov. Kemp’s efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic. “I commend Gov. Brian Kemp for issuing additional guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Today, he outlined Georgia’s latest responses to the pandemic, including temporarily banning gatherings of more than 10 people and requiring medically fragile individuals to quarantine for their own protection,” said Senator Unterman.
“I’m grateful for Gov. Kemp’s decisive action to protect Georgians and to stop the further spread of the coronavirus. I also appreciate President Trump’s leadership in these trying times, and I believe that Americans are stronger than any threat and I’m confident our nation will be stronger in the days to come. May we continue to pray for all affected, directly and indirectly, by COVID-19 and may God bless America.”
In closing, the Governor urged Georgians to continue to follow the CDC’s recommended guidelines of regular hand-washing, social distancing, and regularly sanitize frequently used areas to help prevent the spread of infection.
To see the Governor’s Executive Orders from Monday’s press conference, click here.