ATLANTA – Governor Brian Kemp announced the state will increase the total number of supported staff in hospitals to 2,800 from the original 1,300.
Across the state, hospitals told the governor’s office that they needed more staff to treat the influx of COVID-19 patients as well as other patients.
Through October 2021, Georgia had committed $500 million for 1,300 state-supported staff in hospitals across the staff. The increase to 2,800 doubles staffing assistance and another $125 million. The existing contract will be extended as well.
170 staff will go to rural hospitals. Another 450 beds at nine regional facilities have been identified to treat patients statewide.
Kemp encouraged the unvaccinated to talk with their medical care professional and those they trust about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
“This safe, effective vaccine will reduce the likelihood of you get infected with COVID-19, but more importantly it drastically reduces the chances of you ending up in a hospital bed or losing your life,” Kemp stated.
90 percent of hospitalizations in Georgia for COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Georgia’s only 41 percent fully vaccinated with the majority of counties falling into the 30 percentile range for vaccinations.
Department of Public Health (DPH) Director Dr. Kathleen Toomey explained that 90 percent of the new cases are the Delta Variant. It transmits extremely quickly from person to person and more younger individuals are being diagnosed with COVID-19 than before.
Toomey believes the going to vaccine clinics won’t convince someone to receive the shot, but encouragement from family, friends, and doctors.
DPH will continue to hold vaccination events throughout the state at places like farmer’s markets and festivals so unvaccinated don’t have to take time out of their day. The goal is to make it easy for people.
Increased COVID-19 testing from DPH is also on the way. The positivity rate in Georgia is around 17 percent and DPH will be partnering with hospitals to try and prevent overwhelming the system.
The new testing site and plan rollout should become known by the end of the week.
Kemp urged the FDA to fully approve the COVID-19 vaccine to help alleviate the fears of the unvaccinated about getting the shot. The emergency use authorization status of the COVID-19 vaccine has prevented many from being vaccinated.
State employees are encouraged to get vaccinated
Friday, September 3, state government offices will be closed, and all state employees are encouraged to get the vaccine before or on September 3. Kemp added those employees who received the vaccine beforehand to take the day off as a thank you.
“I don’t think mandates in general work. I think at this point if anybody out there trusts the government, it’s probably not many people,” Kemp explained. “There’s misinformation out there.”
He added the South is experiencing vaccine hesitancy, and Georgia’s seeing it across the state.
If state employees don’t get the vaccine, they won’t experience any consequences. Kemp hopes they will get vaccinated for themselves, their families, and to help hospitals.
Kemp stated he’s supporting superintendents and districts to make good decisions at the local level.
“I don’t think any more guidance or any restrictions…I actually think that would be counter-productive,” Kemp said. “I’m very confident they know how to deal with any issues.”
Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has reached its goal of testing 100,000 individuals in 10 days. More than 108,000 tests were processed since Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H, set the DPH goal last week.
“This is an important benchmark for Georgia as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the state,” said Toomey. “Increased testing is critical to understanding where there are hotspots of infection and how best to mitigate them.”
Effective immediately, testing is available to all Georgians who request it, whether they have symptoms or not. There are more than 65 specimen point of collection sites (SPOC) throughout the state, with an additional 30 mobile SPOCs – locations and hours vary daily.
Individuals wanting to be tested can contact any Georgia public health department to schedule an appointment at a SPOC location convenient to them. Contact information for local health departments can be found on the DPH homepage at
For more information about COVID-19 visit https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
For updates on the COVID-19 situation as it develops, follow @GaDPH, @GeorgiaEMA, and @GovKemp on Twitter, and @GaDPH, @GEMA.OHS, and @GovKemp on Facebook.
ATLANTA, Ga – Governor Brian Kemp announced schools, childcare providers, local governments in Georgia now have the option to close, at least, for the next two weeks, starting this afternoon, during his latest COVID-19 press conference.
Mere hours after he confirmed, the first death in Georgia from COVID-19, Kemp gathered Speaker of the House David Ralston, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to reveal extra measures for Georgians regarding the virus.
“Our message is changing. Elderly Georgians and those with chronic underlying health conditions face a much higher risk of adverse consequences from exposure to coronavirus,” stated Kemp. “We need to help them to dramatically limit their exposure to the public for the foreseeable future.”
These individuals need to avoid mass gatherings, even faith-based events to protect themselves against the virus. Two COVID-19 patients in Bartow did share contact by attending the same church.
Kemp urged citizens to talk with their families and make plans to protect those at risk by picking up their groceries, prescriptions, and helping them in any way possible.
The call to close schools or government offices isn’t a mandate, but, rather, the option now available, when “prudent”, to help keep Georgians safe. However, if counties, schools, or childcare providers don’t see a need to shut down, then they do not have to close.
Additionally, all elder care facilities are now closed to visitation until April 10, 2020, except for family members and end of life services.
Non-essential travel and telework are now in effect for state government, but the government offices and Capitol will remain open. Kemp’s office will send out guidance to all agency leaders for implantation.
The governor also implemented four new committees as part of the coronavirus task force: Emergency Preparedness Committee, led by Insurance Safety and Fire Commissioner John King, Economic Impact Committee, led by State Economist Jeff Dorfman, Primary Care Physicians Committee, led by Dr. Ben Watson, and Homeless Community Committee, led by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
Update on Testing Capabilities
Toomey stated that currently the state can perform 50 tests a day and the department of health has more equipment on the way as well as additional training. She hopes the number will be up to 100 tests a day by the end of next week. Right now, Georgia has enough materials to conduct 500 tests in part thanks to the support from the CDC.
“We are testing high-risk patients,” said Toomey.
20 percent of patients have more severe diseases and five percent need help breathing, so those who fall into the high-risk category are being tested first.
Lab Corp can now process tests, which should speed up the process. The CDC has eased restrictions on COVID-19 testing, so the M-95 masks are no longer necessary as part of protective equipment.
She stressed the importance of those who might have COVID-19 to call ahead because no one wants to infect those in the emergency room or waiting room.