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Kemp orders Georgians to shelter in place, closes K-12 public schools for the school year
Photo courtesy of Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Gov. Brian Kemp will sign an executive order Wednesday, April 1, closing K-12 public schools for the remainder of the school year and sign an order for a statewide shelter-in-place to run from Friday, April 3 through April 13.

“This date is in line with our public health emergency order. Dr. (Kathleen) Toomey and I will continue to work day and night to finalize the order to make sure it keeps our citizens healthy and protected in every ZIP code across our state. We’re taking action to protect our hospitals, to help our medical providers and prepare for the patient surge that we know is coming.”

State law enforcement will likely be used to enforce the shelter-in-place order, though the details were still in the works. 

When asked about exemptions, Kemp said, “People have to eat. We have to continue to process our food supply. We have to have pharmacies open. We have to have Georgia-based companies that are making (personal protective equipment) medical supplies.”

Kemp said online learning will continue.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 3,520 medical surgical beds, 450 beds and 1,006 ventilators at hospitals across the state. Georgia is expected to reach its peak hospital capacity on April 23.

“This model assumes that Georgians continue to abide by the state’s orders and use social distancing methods through the end of May,” Kemp said.

Kemp temporarily suspended certificate-of-need laws to expand hospital capacities. Northeast Georgia Health System officials did not immediately comment when reached by The Times.

“As many as one in four people with coronavirus don’t realize they have infection because they have no symptoms whatsoever. Even if symptoms begin, you can transmit it earlier than expected, so we felt that the time was now to take some more aggressive measures,” Toomey said.

Toomey said outbreaks have been reported potentially related to prisons, jails, church gatherings and funerals.

The Georgia National Guard deployed 13 medical support teams to regional coordinating hospitals across the state and are working on infection control teams to be deployed at long-term care facilities, assisted living centers and nursing homes

“If we can flatten the curve now, we make that bull’s-eye smaller, which is less people that we’ve got to run through the hospital system,” Kemp said.

This story will be updated.