Kemp easing restrictions and opening some businesses

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ATLANTA, Ga – In a 4 p.m. press conference Gov. Brian Kemp outlined a plan to reopen the Georgia economy in accordance with Phase One of President Trump’s plan.

Starting on Friday, April 24, gyms, fitness centers, hair salons, nail salons, tattoo parlors, estheticians, their respective schools, bowling alleys, and massage therapists can open back up. However, they must follow social distancing guidelines and sanitation policies.

“Unlike other businesses, these entities have been unable to manage inventory, deal with payroll, and take care of administrative items while we shelter in place. This measure allows them to undertake baseline operations that most other businesses in the state have maintained since I issued the shelter-in-place order,” stated Kemp.

On Monday, April 27, restaurants can reopen their in-dining services as long as social distance and sanitation protocols are in place.

Entertainment businesses like event venues and bars are still closed until data supports reopening.

Social distancing is still in place across Georgia and the Shelter in Place order is in effect until April 30.

“Do what you can to help those in need. For places of worship, holding in-person services is allowed, but under Phase One guidelines, it must be done in accordance with strict social distancing protocols, Kemp added. “I urge faith leaders to continue to help us in this effort and keep their congregations safe by heeding the advice of public health officials. Of course, online, call-in, or drive-in services remain good options for religious institutions.”

The governor stressed businesses that are being allowed to open back up to practice good common sense or he will take necessary steps. He added that cases will probably continue to go up, but the state is better equipped to combat the virus with more hospital beds and contact tracing.

Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey added that the number of COVID-19 cases in Georgia has plateaued and now in decline. She said that they are following the gating data standards as set by Dr. Deborah Birx and the COVID-19 task force.

Bar graph from DPH demonstrating daily change in confirmed cases.

Toomey said that Georgia will meet the two-week decline in cases by the time the April 30 shelter in place order ends. According to her, the death rate in Georgia has dramatically fallen. Toomey said this is due to more widespread testing and identifying cases earlier.

It should be noted that last week Georgia still had multiple days of over 700 new cases added during the daily reports. The highest confirmed cases day was on April 6, 2020. The highest death day was also on April 6 with 40 deaths recorded by DPH.

However, it’s been previously reported that DPH and associated labs have a backlog of tests to process. These numbers are still subject to change. More testing facilities are opening across the state, including Gilmer and Towns.

Also, several people who are either asymptomatic or demonstrating only minor symptoms are being tested for COVID-19, so these numbers could be much larger. Please continue to follow social distancing for the time being.

Graph depicting daily number of COVID-19 deaths.

Telemedicine Option

From Kemp’s press conference:

“As many of you know, Augusta University Health launched a telemedicine app as part of their comprehensive plan to screen, test, and treat Georgia patients through an algorithm designed by experts at the Medical College of Georgia. This app has enhanced public health while reducing exposure for our doctors, nurses, and medical staff. We are encouraging symptomatic Georgians to download the app this week and begin the screening process. Georgians can access the app by visiting AugustaHealth.org or downloading AU Health ExpressCare on your smartphone. You can also call (706) 721-1852. This free app is user-friendly, and through this app, physicians and advanced practice providers from Augusta University Health and the Medical College of Georgia are available to users twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. If you begin to display symptoms consistent with COVID-19 – day or night – you can log onto AU Health’s telemedicine app or call to get screened by a clinician. If you meet criteria for testing, staff will contact you to schedule a test at one of the state’s designated testing locations near your home. Your healthcare information will be securely transmitted to your designated testing site.

“This streamlined process reduces stress on both the patient and testing site workers. Once you arrive for your appointment, you will provide a specimen for testing. From there, we will leverage the power of several key academic institutions in the state to process tests. These include Augusta University, Emory University, Georgia State University, and the Georgia Public Health Lab. In roughly seventy-two hours, you will be able to access your test results via a secure patient portal, and a medical provider will contact you directly if you are positive. The clinician will assist you with enrolling in a self-reporting app by Google named MTX where – with patient consent – the Department of Public Health can use enhanced contact monitoring and tracing.”

Here’s a link to Fetch Your News’ daily COVID-19 updates.

Posted by Governor Brian Kemp on Monday, April 20, 2020

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