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Kemp: Test most vulnerable first
Gov. Brian Kemp said the elderly, ill, health care workers and first responders should be the first to get scarce COVID-19 tests.
Kemp Addresses COVID-19
Gov. Brian Kemp, with the help of a signer, addresses the media Monday afternoon, March 9, 2020, at the state Capitol in Atlanta on the coronavirus outbreak in Georgia and the state’s response. - photo by Special to The Covington News

Gov. Brian Kemp admitted the state will have to ration tests for COVID-19.

“Many Georgians are eager to be tested right now, but we need to be mindful of our resources,” he said. We have to be in this fight together.”

The death toll in the state began to rise on Wednesday with two deaths at an Albany hospital. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported at least five deaths in southwest Georgia.

Meanwhile, Emory University reported a death related to COVID-19 in one of its Atlanta-area hospitals.

A man died last week in Marietta.

“According to federal and state health officials, we must start prioritizing COVID-19 tests for our most vulnerable populations and the people responsible for their care and safety,” Kemp said. “This will conserve precious medical supplies — like masks, shoe covers and gowns — which are becoming increasingly difficult to find for health care facilities due to overuse, export bans and hoarding.”

Kemp said certain people will be among the first to be tested.

“Georgia’s elderly; those with chronic, underlying health conditions; those who live in a long-term care facility like an assisted living facility or nursing home; and those serving on the front lines as a health care worker, first responder, long-term care facility staffer or law enforcement need tests,” he said.

“The best way to serve the public is to protect the people who are protecting us in this battle.

“It is our responsibility to keep the elderly and chronically ill safe, back our law enforcement and first responders and protect the doctors, nurses and health care providers working around the clock. We ask everyone to continue to pray for our nation in the weeks ahead.”

As of noon Wednesday, Georgia had 197 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Some 104 were confirmed by commercial labs and 93 by the state public health lab.

About 10% of tests in the private labs and about 21% of tests by the state have confirmed a positive diagnosis.