Gov. shuts down bars and nightclubs in Georgia, orders shelter in place for medically fragile

Gatherings of 10 or more people are banned unless you can maintain at least six feet between people at all times

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp gives an update on the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak. (News4Jax)

ATLANTA, Ga. – Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Monday evening that he will issue an executive order that will ban large gatherings across the state, close bars and nightclubs and order the medically fragile to shelter in place.

“The Department of Public Health will be empowered to close any business, establishment, non-profit, or organization for noncompliance. These measures were developed using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Georgia Department of Public Health,” Kemp said.

The order will go into effect at noon Tuesday and expire at noon on April 6.

The announcement came shortly after the state confirmed 26 people have died after testing positive for COVID-19. Georgia has more deaths than Florida and all but five other states in the nation.

Monday’s caseload update of 800 positives includes the first positive diagnosis in both Camden and Pierce counties in Southeast Georgia. (A patient diagnosed with COVID-19 at Southeast Georgia Health Services’ Camden campus is a Charlton County resident). There the number of cases in Glynn County remains at four.

Metro Atlanta still accounts for the largest overall number of cases, with Fulton County reporting 152 infections and at least two deaths from the new virus.

There have been 69 cases and six deaths in Dougherty County which has created capacity problems in Albany’s Phoebe Putney Health Care System. The state is working with them to increase capacity.

Kemp urged health care providers to cancel elective procedures to free up bed space.

Kemp also said the state has more than 20 referral-only testing sites that have been set up across the state to test residents for the new coronavirus.

The 23 sites, which require a doctor’s note, are located in Brunswick, Savannah, Valdosta, Atlanta and other cities in the state.

The Georgia Department of Health state lab has now conducted 1,245 COVID-19 tests and commercial labs have conducted 3,824 COVID-19 tests, Kemp said Monday.

Kemp also decided to extend Georgia’s tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020 in accordance with the new federal tax filing deadline.

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