Atlanta, GA – Today Governor Brian P. Kemp, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, and House Speaker David Ralston announced plans to extend Georgia’s public health state of emergency through May 13, 2020, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Under state law, the Governor may renew the public health state of emergency, which was otherwise set to expire on April 13, 2020. Lt. Governor Duncan and Speaker Ralston agree it is necessary for the public health emergency to be renewed and will not be requesting a special legislative session, which was tentatively scheduled for April 15, 2020.
“To ensure the health and well-being of Georgians, I will extend the public health state of emergency through May 13, 2020. This measure will allow us to continue to deploy resources to communities in need, lend support to frontline medical providers, and keep preparing as we brace for potential patient surge in our healthcare facilities. We deeply appreciate the hard work of Georgians who are sheltering in place, using social distancing, and helping us flatten the curve. We are in this fight together,” said Governor Kemp. “I appreciate Lt. Governor Duncan and Speaker Ralston continuing to work with us to ensure resources are available to proactively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I thank them for their support of an extended emergency declaration. In these unprecedented times, we ask Georgians for their continued patience and prayers, especially for first responders, law enforcement, and the healthcare workers caring for the medically fragile. They are going above and beyond to keep us all safe, and we will never be able to repay them for their sacrifices.”
“We must continue our aggressive fight against COVID-19,” said Lt. Governor Duncan. “By extending the public health state of emergency, we can ensure Georgians have access to every available state resource during this crisis. Together, Speaker Ralston and I are working closely with Governor Kemp to do all we can to make sure we are meeting the needs of every Georgian. The General Assembly will continue to remain vigilant and available to assist our citizens in any way possible.”
“The entirety of our state government is working to protect the health and safety of our citizens, and I appreciate the work of our state personnel and first responders during this challenging time,” said Speaker David Ralston. “While we have difficult days ahead, we continue to coordinate with both local and federal partners in responding to needs as they arise. As Georgians, we will persevere and emerge stronger on the other side.”
ATLANTA, Ga – Chief Justice Harold D. Melton issued an order today that extends the statewide judicial emergency until May 13, 2020. The Chief Justice first declared a judicial emergency on March 14 which was due to expire April 13.
While under a statewide judicial emergency, courts are ordered to remain open to deal with matters that are critical or “essential” to protect the “health, safety, and liberty of individuals.” As an example, essential court functions include such things as the issuance of search and arrest warrants and the granting of domestic abuse restraining orders. However, criminal trials and jury duty have been suspended statewide, and courts are urged to use teleconferencing and videoconferencing where feasible when conducting hearings or other court matters to avoid litigants, judges, and other persons from having to convene in the courthouse and risk exposure to COVID-19.
With today’s extension of the emergency, the order urges courts to avoid backlogs in nonessential matters where they can do so safely. “With regard to matters not deemed essential functions under the Statewide Judicial Emergency Order, courts and litigants are encouraged to proceed to the extent feasible and consistent with public health guidance, for example through the use of teleconferences and videoconferences, to reduce backlogs when the judicial emergency ends,” the order says.
“The threat of this virus is difficult for everyone,” Chief Justice Melton said. “Court personnel are no exception. We have to ensure that they can safely fulfill their mission.”
Chief Justice Melton said that mandating that only essential matters be addressed by the courts is a step toward protecting the safety of court personnel and the public. But Chief Justice Melton noted that with today’s order extending the judicial emergency, “I also want to encourage courts and counsel in nonessential matters to move those matters forward as much as possible and practicable to maintain the flow. We should do what we can safely do during this time to keep the courts’ backlog from growing too large.”
The order urges attorneys to remember their “obligations of professionalism.” Guidance on those obligations can be found in the Lawyer’s Creed and Aspirational Statement on Professionalism. (https://www.gabar.org/aboutthebar/lawrelatedorganizations/cjcp/lawyers-creed.cfm) In particular, attorneys are urged during this emergency to accommodate opposing counsel in either moving cases along or agreeing to continuances as appropriate.
The order states that the Chief Justice will give notice of the expected termination of the order “at least one week in advance to allow courts to plan the transition to fuller operations.”
See entire declaration here: CJ Melton_Extension_Order_signed_entered
The March 14 order states that courts “should remain open to address essential functions, and in particular courts should give priority to matters defined as those necessary to protect health, safety, and liberty of individuals.” The order lists the matters courts should prioritize, which including domestic abuse restraining orders, juvenile court delinquency detention hearings and emergency removal matters, mental health commitment hearings, and cases “where an immediate liberty or safety concern is present requiring the attention of the court as soon as the court is available.”
“Following Governor Kemp’s declaration today of a Public Health State of Emergency, I am directing the judicial branch of government to suspend all but essential court functions,” Chief Justice Melton said. “These critical matters will remain a priority in our courts.”
Criminal trials in which a jury already has been empaneled “shall continue to conclusion, unless good cause exists to suspend the trial or declare a mistrial,” the order states.
During the period of the order, which will terminate April 13 unless extended, the order suspends and grants relief from a number of judicial deadlines, such as the “time within which to issue a warrant” and the “time within which to hold a commitment hearing.”
The order states that, “To the extent court proceedings are held, they should be done in a manner to limit the risk of exposure, where possible, such as videoconferencing.”
ATLANTA, Ga – Gov. Brian Kemp’s shelter in place order took effect on Friday, April 3 at 6 p.m. and will last until Monday, April 13, unless otherwise extended. The order came after Kemp reportedly just learned about asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19.
Under the shelter in place order, Kemp placed travel restrictions on residents except for “essential services,” “minimal basic operations,” and “critical infrastructure” workers.
Residents can only receive visitors that provide essential services – medical and supplies, end-of-life care, and items necessary for daily life. Visitors must maintain six feet of distance from residents. These directives will be strictly enforced in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Essential services include necessary provisions trips to stores and pharmacies, medical visits, emergency services, and outdoor exercise – six feet apart from others. Citizens are encouraged to use delivery and curbside services over in-store shopping.
Critical Infrastructure is identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, such as home care, hospice, suppliers, legal services, health care, food banks, and non-profit mental health services. Local ordinances can’t impede these organizations.
Minimum Basic Operations include the bare necessities in order to maintain businesses as well as allow them to remain open under the order. Remote work and outside jobs like landscaping, agriculture, contractors, and delivery services are still possible under the order.
All Critical and Non-Critical Infrastructure businesses must implement the following mitigation measures:
- Screen workers for sickness including fevers of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or more, cough, and shortness of breath.
- Workers who exhibit symptoms must stay home.
- Regular sanitation of business and place hand sanitation encouragement in visible areas.
- Required employee handwashing or sanitation as appropriate places in business.
- Provide protective equipment as available and appropriate.
- Prohibit employee gatherings while at work.
- Permit breaks to be taken outside, individual’s office desk, or where social distancing is possible.
- Implement telework for all possible employees and hold all meetings virtually.
- Stagger shifts.
- Deliver intangibles remotely when possible.
- Discourage workers from using other employees’ phones.
- Prohibit handshakes.
- Suspend use of PIN pads for entry, electronic signature capture, and any other credit card receipt signature requirements.
- Enforce social distancing
- Provide an alternate point of sale for retailers and service providers
- Increase distance between customers and employees.
- Provide disinfectant and sanitation tools to employees.
- Create six feet of distance between workspaces.
Restaurants, diners, bars, social clubs, gyms, bowling alleys, theaters, venues, salons, body art studios, and massage parlors are now closed until the order ends. Takeout, curbside, and delivery are permitted. This doesn’t apply to health care or nursing home cafeterias, but in-room dining is strongly encouraged.
If an emergency that requires residents to leave their homes, then the shelter in place order can be overlooked.
On April 3, Kemp deputized local law enforcement to ensure everyone follows the shelter in place order.
Local government can’t pass any ordinances that don’t fall in line with the shelter in place order. They can, however, pass ordinances that “enforce compliance with the order.”
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.
Atlanta, GA – Governor Brian Kemp’s office released a press release on Friday, March 13 to announce the intention to declare Georgia’s first public health emergency.
Following President Trump’s national emergency declaration today, Governor Kemp issued the following statement:
“Based on President Trump’s emergency declaration, I will declare a public health emergency for the State of Georgia tomorrow morning. This declaration will greatly assist health and emergency management officials across Georgia by deploying all available resources for the mitigation and treatment of COVID-19. In accordance with state law, I will call for a special session of the General Assembly to convene at the State Capitol at 8 AM on Monday, March 16, 2020 to ratify this action through a joint resolution.
“At this time, it is appropriate for faith-based organizations and similar entities to consider cancellation of public events and services. Contact your local public health office or consult official sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia Department of Public Health, for helpful guidance on decision-making. Elderly citizens and those with chronic, underlying health conditions face a serious threat to their health, and we must do everything in our power to reduce risk associated with this virus. Continue to support one another, be mindful of potential exposure, use best practices to prevent infection, and pray for your fellow Americans in the weeks ahead.”
After reviewing state records, it appears that Governor Kemp’s declaration tomorrow will constitute Georgia’s first-ever public health emergency. The applicable code section is O.C.G.A. 38-3-51.
For updates on COVID-19, follow @GeorgiaEMA, @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Twitter and @GEMA.OHS, @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Facebook. For more information, visit the DPH’s coronavirus webpage at https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus.