Kemp releases stay-at-home order as Georgia cases pass 5,400

A person jogs past a sign encouraging social distancing Thursday. Exercise is one of the allowed exceptions to most stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
A person jogs past a sign encouraging social distancing Thursday. Exercise is one of the allowed exceptions to most stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. (AP photo by Jeff Roberson))

ATLANTA – Georgia’s governor published his order telling people to stay at home Thursday as known coronavirus infections in the state rose past 5,400 and officials blamed the virus for record-shattering unemployment claims.

Kemp’s order will take effect at 6 p.m. Friday and last through at least April 13. It comes after days of pressure from local officials and widespread criticism of Kemp’s claimed rationale that he was acting because federal officials had just confirmed that the virus is being spread by seemingly healthy people who are infected but have no symptoms such as fever or cough.

The sobering new figures on the pandemic’s toll in Georgia came just a month after Kemp announced the state’s first confirmed infections March 2.

At least 176 deaths in Georgia have been linked to the new virus, the state Department of Public Health reported. And more than 1,100 have been hospitalized since Kemp announced March 2 that officials had confirmed Georgia’s first two coronavirus infections.

The order says people must stay home unless they are providing or receiving food, household supplies, medical supplies or services, sanitation, safety services or essential home maintenance. It also says people can exercise outside as long as they stay 6 feet apart, but they’re not supposed to have visitors

A wide range of critical infrastructure businesses as designated by the federal government can stay open, including laundromats, dry cleaners, home construction, hardware stores, defense plants, banks, sawmills and news outlets.

The measure limits nonessential businesses to the “necessary activities to maintain the value” of the business, but says they can stay open to the public subject to those restrictions.

Both essential and nonessential businesses are directed to screen workers for signs of illness, implement teleworking and staggered shifts for all possible workers, and increase the distance between work stations to at least 6 feet.