Georgia Governor Announces Shelter in Place Order, Closes Public Schools for Rest of Academic Year

Georgia Governor Announces Shelter in Place Order, Closes Public Schools for Rest of Academic Year
Brian Kemp at Georgia Public Broadcasting in Midtown in Atlanta, Georgia on Oct. 23, 2018. (John Bazemore-Pool/Getty Images)
Mimi Nguyen Ly

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced on Wednesday that he would sign a statewide shelter in place order and move to close all kindergarten and public schools for the rest of the academic year.

Schools in Georgia were initially ordered to close until March 31; the deadline was later extended through April 24, and now Kemp has announced he will sign an executive order on Wednesday to close K-12 public schools through the end of the academic year at the end of May. Classes will be completed through virtual learning.
In an update outside the Georgia State Capitol, Kemp said that he would sign the shelter in place order on Thursday. It will be effective from Friday to at least April 13. The date is in line with Georgia’s public health state of emergency order, Kemp said.
The Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed late Wednesday that there are more than 4,700 cases and the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus. More than 1,010 people are hospitalized and 154 people have died due to the CCP virus.

The governor said that he decided to issue the two orders after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that people could spread the virus even without exhibiting any symptoms.

“Over the past 48 hours, the modeling and data have dramatically changed for Georgia and many other states around the country,” Kemp said. “The CDC has announced that individuals can be infected and begin spread coronavirus earlier than previously thought—even if they have no symptoms. From a public health standpoint, this is a revelation and a game-changer.

“In addition, new models show Georgia will need more time to prepare for a hospital surge in capacity,” he said. “While we are making excellent progress with our team, we have got to be more aggressive.”

Kemp said that research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests that Georgia will reach peak hospital capacity on April 23, assuming that Georgians abide by the state’s social distancing guidelines. He noted that as of Wednesday morning, hospitals across the state have 3,520 medical-surgical beds, 450 beds, and 1,006 ventilators available.

Those caught in breach of the shelter in place order will be punished with a fine or misdemeanor, Kemp said, adding that law enforcement will be at hand to make sure state residents comply.

“Now is the crunch time for us to lessen the peak, to make the bullseye smaller, so we don’t overrun our health care system,” Kemp said.

Online late Wednesday, the governor announced that his office would issue specific guidelines soon.

In a news release on Tuesday, Kemp’s office said that clinical labs at universities in Georgia would soon be able to process over 3,000 COVID-19 test samples per day.
More than 100 troops from the Georgia National Guard will be deployed over the next few weeks to assisted-living facilities or nursing homes with COVID-19 cases. The troops will help with infection control protocols and enhanced sanitation methods at specific locations, to help limit COVID-19 exposure among residents.
Until Wednesday, Kemp had held back from mandating that all Georgia residents shelter at home, saying that those orders were subject to local governments. The governor previously ordered schools to close and ordered that gatherings of 10 or more people be banned since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also shut down bars and night clubs and ordered those with health conditions to remain home.
The State of Georgia has a new COVID-19 hotline: (844) 442-2681.
If you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, please contact your primary care doctor, an urgent care clinic, or your local federally qualified healthcare center. Please do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility.