Gov. Brian Kemp says he plans to announce new guidance soon about Georgia businesses closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In an interview with WSB-TV, Kemp said that state officials are aiming to make public new guidelines regarding businesses “over the next several days.”
“They’re wanting to open back those businesses, and people want to go participate in those activities, and I get that. We just got to make sure we do it in a way that’s safe for Georgians,” Kemp said.
Georgia has had more than 39,800 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to data from the state Department of Public Health. At least 1,697 people have died.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.
Expert: Testing Too Limited To Accurately Gauge Infection
As Georgia continues to re-open for business some positive data points are emerging, but there’s still a lot more data to consider in the next few weeks.
COVID-19 cases have been decreasing, albeit slowly over the past two weeks, and the state is battling a couple of coronavirus hot spots.
Brian Castrucci, an epidemiologist who used to work for the state’s health department, now heads the de Beaumont Foundation which assists health agencies. He says testing is still too limited to say where and how many infections there are in Georgia.
He says the re-opening was a gamble.
“I’m not going to say Governor Kemp was right or wrong. We have to see the consequences of the action. There’s a scenario that Georgia is the model of the country and there’s a model where Georgia is a catastrophe.”
He says the next two weeks could be critical. One Georgia data point that remains high is ICU capacity, which is above 70%.
Officials Warn About Coronavirus-Related Scams
State officials are warning residents of scams related to coronavirus testing.
The Atlanta office of the Better Business Bureau says robocalls directing people to fake websites supposedly selling certain tests are making the rounds, asking for personal information and credit card details.
The scammers claim their tests can detect if you had the virus. But the Bureau says many sites are not sending test kits, and not all these antibody tests on the market have been authorized by the FDA. It recommends you see a healthcare provider for those.
As for tests to detect if you currently have the virus, you can see a list of official facilities at the state’s Department of Public Health website.
Atlanta Extends Ban On Water Shutoffs
Atlanta’s Watershed Management will continue its policy of not shutting off customer’s water due to non-payment.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms extended an earlier order banning shutoffs until the end of June.
The Mayor has ALSO extended an order that lets people buy alcohol from restaurants.
Bottoms says both orders are meant to ease financial hardship during the coronavirus pandemic.
Atlantans Can Still Get Alcohol To Go
Atlantans will still be able to buy alcohol from restaurants while the city is sheltering in place.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has extended her order allowing take-out alcohol sales, until the end of June.
The Mayor says she signed the order to help ease the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on businesses.
Some Churches Could Soon Resume In-Person Services
Atlanta’s Archbishop, Gregory Hartmayer says in-person daily Masses for metro-area Catholic churches COULD start as soon as next week.
Some new guidelines include taking parishioners temperatures before they enter the church vestibule, deep cleaning of pews and removal of hymnals and bibles.
Atlanta’s Historic Big Bethel AME Church in downtown Atlanta says it will welcome back worshipers in a “parking lot praise” service on May 31.
But, attendees must maintain social distance in their cars, for the entire service.
Both have held virtual services since March.