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Kemp lifts shelter-in-place for most, extends state of emergency
Brian Kemp
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. - photo by Submitted Photo

Gov. Brian Kemp will allow the statewide shelter-in-place order to expire for most Georgians on Friday as the state moves forward with its gradual reopening.

On Thursday afternoon, Kemp announced that he would allow the current shelter-in-place ordinance to expire at 11:59 p.m. on April 30, although he implores Georgians to continue to stay inside when they can.

“I want to thank the people of our great state who heeded public health advice, afforded us time to bolster our healthcare infrastructure and flattened the curve,” Kemp said. “We were successful in these efforts, but the fight is far from over.”

Kemp extended Georgia’s public health state of emergency and the shelter-in-place order for the “medically fragile and elderly” through June 12, 2020. In Georgia, those age 65 or older are considered to be elderly.

Kemp expressed his desire to continue ramping up testing across the state while ensuring emergency response operations remain effective. He’s also going to order long-term care facilities to follow protocols that will promote the safety of residents and staff from COVID-19.

“The health and well-being of Georgians are my top priorities, and my decisions are based on data and advice from health officials,” Kemp said. “I will do what is necessary to protect the lives – and livelihoods – of our people.”

As of 3:25 p.m. Thursday, April 30, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported that 26,173 people had tested positive for COVID-19 while 5,156 had been hospitalized and 1,124 had died. According to the DPH, there had been a total of 196 confirmed cases in Newton County and 7 deaths.

During a press conference on Monday, Kemp said the state has been adhering to federal guidelines for allowing businesses to reopen while also listening to advice from local health officials. Additionally, they’ve factored in the severity of the situation businesses across Georgia are facing after being forced to close their doors for several weeks.

“We are looking at depression-like unemployment,” he said Monday. “It has all tumbled off a cliff like it has in every state. But we will come back, and we will come back even stronger.”

Kemp and Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the state’s public health commissioner, also urged Georgians who were experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 to seek testing. While the volume of administered tests was previously limited to those most vulnerable, the state has since ramped up testing across all regions.

"We have the tests, we have the physicians, we have the sites and we have the bandwidth. We just need more Georgians to participate,” Kemp said Monday.