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Kemp issues final public health emergency order for COVID-19
Gov. Brian Kemp speaks with reporters outside Amazon’s new warehouse in Gwinnett County on Sept. 1, 2020. (Photo by Beau Evans)

ATLANTA – Gov. Brian Kemp Tuesday issued what is expected to be the last statewide public health emergency of the coronavirus pandemic era.

The order will expire on Thursday, July 1, at 12 a.m.

“I appreciate the General Assembly granting my office this authority in order to swiftly and appropriately respond to the coronavirus pandemic,” Kemp said. “We worked together – along with the Department of Public Health, dozens of state agencies, local leaders, private sector partners, and countless others – to protect both lives and livelihoods.

“Thanks to those efforts, more Georgians are getting vaccinated, our economic momentum is strong, and people are getting back to normal.”

Kemp issued the first of a long series of public health emergency orders in March of last year as COVID-19 took hold in Georgia. The restrictions included in those orders have varied depending on the severity of the threat posed by the virus.

Early on, many businesses shut down and laid off their workers, while restaurants stopped serving customers inside their establishments and provided only pickup and delivery service.

More recently, companies have brought employees back to their offices at least part of the time, but those who can work at home have gotten used to the convenience and are continuing to do so if allowed by their bosses.

As of Tuesday, the state Department of Public Health has reported 901,472 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 64,697 hospitalizations. The virus has killed 18,407 Georgians.

In Georgia, the virus hit an early peak last July, then hit a second higher peak in January before tapering off substantially.

More than 3.8 million Georgians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 37% of the state’s population, a vaccination rate that continues to lag the national average.

While there will be no more public health emergency declarations, Kemp said he plans to issue an executive order next week that will continue aiding the state and Georgia job creators as they fully recover from the pandemic. The order will include the suspension of various state rules and regulations, the governor said.