At 3 p.m., Georgia Governor Brian Kemp held a live press conference, outlining new policies and requests in relation to the COVID-19 disease. These include recommendations for elderly and those with underlying health problems to avoid crowded places, recommendations for local schools to close school systems "if prudent" and cancellation of visitation at several state agency facilities.
Highlights from Gov. Brian Kemp’s 3 p.m. press conference
“All of you have seen that we are starting to have large event cancellations and school closures; in many ways our message stays the same,” Kemp said, referencing the “best practices” advice from the CDC and Public Health of hand washing, avoiding large events if you are sick.
“This is where our message is changing,” he then said; and outlined several new official stands and policies:
Recommendations for Elderly and Underlying Health Conditions include avoiding places of public gathering, including faith-based locations.
“Elderly Georgians and those with chronic underlying health conditions face a much higher risk of adverse consequences from exposure to (Covid-19). We must take extra care around elderly individuals, people with ongoing health issues, and those with a suppressed immune system.,” he said. “We need to help them dramatically limit their exposure to the public for the foreseeable future. Health officials are now telling us this vulnerable population needs to avoid mass gatherings and locations with high traffic of people – even faith-based services or events.”
He urged families to “get together on how they are going to protect their grandparents, how they are going to protect their loved ones with health conditions, and how they will come up with a game plan for getting them what they need: groceries, prescriptions and other necessary supplies.”
Schools daycares and county and local governments: State will stand behind local decisions, whether it is to stay open, or close
“Given the rise in cases (of Covid-19), along with the push for more school closures, I am going to issue a call-to-action for community leaders, educational leaders and child care providers across our state. If you feel that it is prudent, you should consider closing daycares, schools or school districts as early as tomorrow through the next two weeks," he said. “In addition, county and local governments should consider what closures might be appropriate that do not effect essential services."
"I want to emphasize that this is not a mandate. A this point, we believe that local decisions making is the right course of action, and you have that flexibility," he added.
State Government to remain open, but some changes implemented
“At this time I am not shutting down state government or the State capitol, however I am immediately suspending non-essential travel and implementing tele-work policies for most state employees,” Kemp stated.
Corrections and other agency visitation cancelled.
For the The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Corrections Department, Department of Juvenile Justice and Veterans Services, Kemp issued the following directive: “Regarding visitation, until April 10, department facilities will completely suspend visitation except for next of kin and end-of-life situations.”
ConnectLocal is attempting to contact, tonight and tomorrow, all local agencies – including schools, government agencies, city police and county sheriff, schools, daycares and churches – to learn if there are any updates to their schedules and policies in light of Kemp’s announcement. ConnectLocal will keep the community updated as soon as any new information is available.