COVID-19 Tests: Prioritizing vulnerable, first responders and health workers

UPDATE: at Noon today, March 19, the Georgia Department of Public Health updated the Georgia COVID-19 Statistics. The death toll from COVID 19 in Georgia now stands at 10. ConnectLocal will be issuing an informational article momentarily regarding the update.

Georgia death toll from COVID-19 rises from one to four. Limited COVID-19 test kits and shortages in basic medical supplies prompts official call for prioritization of testing for the virus

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) confirmed yesterday, March 18, that two additional deaths from COVID-19 in Georgia. The individuals, a 42-year-old woman and a 69-year-old-woman, both died in an Albany hospital. In addition to testing positive for COVID-19, each had existing medical conditions.'

Emory Healthcare confirmed Wednesday the state’s fourth death due to COVID-19.

“The Emory Healthcare community is saddened to learn of the first death of one of our patients with confirmed COVID-19 despite the heroic efforts of our physicians, nurses and care team,” the health system said in a statement.

"According to federal and state health officials, we must start prioritizing COVID-19 tests for our most vulnerable populations and the people responsible for their care and safety. This will conserve precious medical supplies - like masks, shoe covers and gowns - which are becoming increasingly difficult to find for healthcare facilities due to overuse, export bans and hoarding.

Governor Brian P. Kemp, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), and the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA) issued a joint statement this morning, March 18, urging citizens mindful of limited supplies in regards to COVID-19 testing.

"Georgia’s elderly, those with chronic, underlying health conditions, those who live in a long- term care facility like an assisted living facility or nursing home, and those serving on the front lines as a healthcare worker, first responder, long-term care facility staffer, or law enforcement need tests. The best way to serve the public is to protect the people who are protecting us in this battle,” the release stated. t is our responsibility to keep the elderly and chronically ill safe, back our law enforcement and first responders, and protect the doctors, nurses, and healthcare providers working around the clock."

People who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 do not need to be tested, nor do those with mild or moderate “cold-like” symptoms, the press release stated, adding that “The majority of people with COVID-19 can safely recover at home with self-isolation and symptomatic treatment. Diagnosis through laboratory testing does not change the care that they would receive.”

Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 and should always consult their healthcare provider if they are sick.

Under updated CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19 recovery, anyone with mild respiratory symptoms – fever and cough – are being told to stay home and isolate themselves from others for at least seven days after their symptoms began or 72 hours after their fever has resolved and symptoms have improved. Anyone who has had exposure to an individual with COVID-19 “must self quarantine for 14 days,” the press release stated.



Correctly washing your hands and maintaining social distance by avoiding large gatherings and close contact with people who are sick are two of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

All Georgians play a critical role in helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 by adhering to the following guidance:

Practice social distancing by putting at least 6 feet between yourself and other people.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Stay home if you are sick.

Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water.

Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.


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