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Georgia governor creates coronavirus task force

CDC retesting patient for coronavirus after being released from isolation.
CDC retesting patient for coronavirus after being released from isolation.

ATLANTA – Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Friday that he’s set up a task force to assess the state’s preparations for addressing any potential coronavirus cases.

The 18-member task force will work on preventative measures, resource deployment and collaboration with other government agencies, the Republican governor said in a statement. It includes Colleen Kraft, director of the Clinical Virology Research Laboratory at Emory University, and state epidemiologist Cherie Drenzek.

“We are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best on this,” Kemp said at a news conference after the announcement.

He said the task force would hold its first meeting later Friday.

Kemp was on a phone call with Vice President Mike Pence earlier in the day about the Trump administration’s efforts to combat the virus, according to the governor’s office.

There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state, and the risk for transmission in Georgia is low, Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said.

“We have no way of knowing when or if we will have COVID-19 cases,” she said at the news conference with Kemp. ”What we do know is that we have a robust plan in place, a plan initially developed for this type of outbreak, pandemic influenza.”

She said the state has sent less than 10 samples to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test for the virus, but all have been negative.

She said it’s taking the CDC four to five days to return test results, but the state should have its own testing capability within the next two weeks.

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