ATLANTA, Ga – In a March 23 press conference, Gov. Kemp issued multiple executive orders and asked for the public’s help to ensure everyone is following CDC and Georgia Department of Health (DPH) guidelines during the country’s self-quarantine.
While Kemp is still hesitant to shut down all non-essential businesses or institute a statewide mandatory quarantine, he did issue an executive order to all medically fragile individuals to shelter in place. He listed off these individuals: the elderly, long-term care patients, chronic lung disease individuals, cancer patients, or anyone suspected of having COVID-19.
In another executive order, Kemp closed all bars and nightclubs in the state and banned large gatherings (more than 10).
Kemp also said to fellow Georgians that if they see anyone not following the CDC of DPH guidelines, “call them out or report them to us.” He seemed prepared to take action against anyone not listening to his instructions or taking COVID-19 seriously.
“Fight this virus with everything you got,” stated Kemp toward the end of his press conference.
Georgians can also call the DPH COVID-19 hotline at (844) 442-2681. If they believe that they’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, please contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Do not show up at a clinic or emergency room unannounced.
Georgia now has 23 referral-only testing facilities in the state. Kemp released the location of the facilities in a tweet.
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) March 23, 2020
Update from March 15, 2020 below
Gov. Kemp, Georgia Department of Health (DPH), and Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) started construction of a quarantine zone in Monroe County on March 14, 2020. Additionally, the Georgia General Assembly ratified the executive order declaring a Public Health State of Emergency.
“This is one of many measures that we’re taking to prepare for any scenario,” said Gov. Kemp. “I appreciate the hard work of GEMA, DPH, and Monroe County officials to protect the health and safety of all Georgians.”
The quarantine space is for people who are unable to self-isolate and is located in the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) Campus in Monroe County. The quarantine space will be able to accommodate twenty temporary housing units. No patients are currently located at the facility.
Monroe County is working with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) and GPSTC officials to ensure the facility will meet the needs of potential patients while protecting the health and safety of Monroe County residents.
Public Health Emergency Ratification
Kemp can now officially enforce all laws, rules, and regulations associated with the emergency; assume control of all state civil forces and helpers; seize property temporarily for public’s protection; exercise other duties deemed necessary for safety; use all the resources available of the state government; direct evacuation; suspend of alcohol, explosives, and combustibles; and provide temporary housing if applicable.
Since this is a public health emergency, Kemp also has the ability to “implement a mandatory vaccination or quarantine” in accordance with O.C.G.A. Code 38-3-51(i)(2). The Georgia Department of Health (DPH) already has this capability to mandate quarantine and vaccinations.
Additionally, Kemp can direct DPH’s efforts to coordinate the department’s response to the crisis from risk assessments, mitigation, responses, and recovery throughout the state.
The General Assembly also granted Kemp the ability to extend the state of emergency if the elected representative body can’t convene in time.
On Saturday morning, Governor Brian Kemp officially declared Georgia’s first Public Health Emergency, freeing up resources and granting additional powers to Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA). The General Assembly will vote on the executive order on Monday.
A Public Health Emergency is enacted when an infectious disease/illness presents an imminent threat and can potentially result in a high number of deaths and/or exposure could harm large amounts of people.
So, what exactly does this executive order entail for Georgians? In short, it guarantees a continuous supply of medical goods and other emergency materials, as well as giving DPH and GEMA powers to “taken any action necessary to protect the public’s health” with the governor’s permission.
The department of public health is authorized to “actively monitor” persons under investigation (PUI), including a risk assessment within 24 hours of identification, and twice-daily temperature checks for 14 days or until a negative test result.
Here’s the entire executive order for those who want to review it.
These actions include “implementing quarantine, isolation, and other necessary public health interventions in accordance with O.C.G.A. Code 31-12-4 and Code 38-3-51(i)(2) or as other authorized by law.
O.C.G.A. Code 31-12-4 addresses isolation and segregation of diseased persons stating the DPH and county boards can isolate or quarantine individuals suspected of harboring infectious diseases, or until they test negative for the contagion. The department also must widely publicize the rules and regulations for the quarantine.
O.C.G.A. Code 38-3-51(i)(2) lists the due processes afforded to those in quarantine and seeks to leave before the department of public health gives the okay.
Additionally, the Georgia Emergency Operations Plan is activated. DPH and GEMA must coordinate with state, federal, and local government, recovery operations, mitigation, emergency response activities, CDC, and the release of the national stockpile of goods.
The public must also be informed about public health operations, including education and prevention measures.
Commercial vehicles have certain restrictions lifted, so they can operate more freely to move supplies throughout the state.
Georgia Board of Nurses and Georgia Composite Medical Board can grant temporary licenses to applicants that are in good standing with an equivalent board in another state.
All state and local healthcare facilities, physicians, clinics, and personnel must comply with the governor’s orders.
Price gouging on products on goods and services necessary in this public health emergency is prohibited.
The Georgia National Guard was called in on March 14 to assist in the crisis.
The executive order expires on April 13, 2020, unless Gov. Kemp renews it.