Gov. Kemp orders statewide shelter-in-place, closes schools for rest of school year

In recent days, Kemp has come under fire for not ordering a shelter in place sooner.

During a news conference Wednesday afternoon the governor said he would sign the order on Thursday and it would go into effect on Friday.

“I want to encourage my fellow Georgians to hang in there. I know you’re tired of this but we must first overcome the obstacles in our path,” Kemp said.

The governor said he came to the decision after receiving “game-changing” new information released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The latest numbers from the Department of Public Health shows Georgia currently has more than 4,600 confirmed cases of the virus and nearly 140 deaths.

The governor said research shows that Georgia will reach peak hospital capacity in about three weeks.

Kemp also ordered that all public schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year.

Kemp said the state university system is processing about 3,000 coronavirus tests a day. The governor also said social distancing measures taken by the public are helping to slow the spread of the virus.

Kemp said he will work with Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the director of the Department of Public Health, to work out the details of the order that he said would be ready by Thursday morning.

He did say the order will include exceptions for grocery stores, medical supplies and certain manufacturing. It’s likely to allow restaurants to serve takeout but ban dine-in service.

In recent days, Kemp has come under fire for not ordering a shelter in place sooner.

The Georgia Municipal Association held a conference call for mayors Monday to update them on the virus response, said Larry Hanson, the group’s executive director.

A shrinking handful of Georgia counties still have no confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Fearful of closing businesses and losing jobs, Hanson said, some local leaders didn’t want the governor to impose tougher restrictions statewide.

“But there is a growing number of mayors calling for that,” Hanson said.

“There’s no question there are a number of mayors who are concerned and fearful and are trying to manage this crisis at the local level,” he said. “And some think that more stringent actions are needed.”

The Georgia Municipal Association last week urged all 538 cities statewide to adopt some type of emergency order aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. Hanson said he didn’t know how many had adopted such measures, but the association’s website Tuesday listed roughly 60 cities and counties that had taken action.

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