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Kemp issues executive order to shut down most gatherings
Governor Brian Kemp
Governor Brian Kemp dresses the media during a press conference on March 12, 2020 about COVID-19. - photo by Special to The Covington News

Gov. Brian Kemp issued two executive orders Monday, banning gatherings of more than 10 people and shelter in place for “medically fragile” residents for two weeks. 

Kemp’s first executive order was aimed at bars and nightclubs by banning public gatherings of more than 10 people, unless they can be separated by 6 feet or more at all times. He gave the Department of Public Health authority to close businesses or nonprofits – including churches – that don’t comply with those rules. 

The governor also required isolation, quarantine or shelter-in-place for people with sensitive health issues, who have passed COVID-19 tests, or who might have been exposed to it.

“We are all part of the solution. If your friends, neighbors or local organizations are not complying, call them out. Or report them to us,” said Kemp. “If any establishment isn’t following these directives, I’d ask you to take your business somewhere else.”

The shelter-in-place is mainly aimed at those in longterm care facilities, those with compromised immune systems and those exposed to the virus.

“This fight is far from over, but we are in this fight together,” said Kemp. “Look out for your fellow Georgians and pray for their continued safety, as well as the safety of our first responders, health care workers, the elderly and the medically fragile.”

Kemp also followed the federal government’s lead and postponed the deadline to file state taxes until July 15.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Georgia spiked by 152 cases to 772, the Department of Public Health announced Monday at noon with its daily status report. Those numbers are expected to continue rising in the coming days as more tests are completed and both the DPH lab and commercial labs catch up on a backlog of testing.

"Over the past few days, the number of COVID-19 cases has dramatically increased. Currently, we have 772 cases in 67 counties,” Kemp said. “We are starting to see the impact of coronavirus on medically fragile populations in long-term care facilities. State health and emergency management officials are working tirelessly to conduct testing, bolster capacity in our healthcare infrastructure, and prepare as we address the challenge before us.”

Kemp announced the state has now finished setting up 23 new testing sites, including one in Athens.

“To be tested at one of these locations, you must have a referral from a medical provider,” Kemp said. “Tests are limited to elderly Georgians, members of the law enforcement community, first responders, long-term care facility residents and staff, and health care workers. We must protect those who are protecting us, and that is why we have these new testing sites in strategic locations statewide.”