Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday that he is extending Georgia’s state of emergency for another month as coronavirus deaths and infections continue to climb across the state.
Kemp’s executive order extends the public health emergency through May 13. It had been set to expire next Monday.
State lawmakers last month granted Kemp temporary emergency powers and allowed the governor to renew them without reconvening the full legislature for a vote. Several legislators have tested positive for the virus since they last met.
The Republican governor appeared at a news conference Wednesday afternoon, where he spoke about the decision to extend the date.
“This measure will allow us to deploy more resources to communities in need, lend support the frontline medical providers and keep preparing as we brace for potential patients,” Kemp said.
During the news conference, which began at 4 p.m., the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia were at 9,901, and the number of related deaths reached 362.
Another executive order signed by Kemp includes an extension of the statewide shelter in place order, which will now be carried through April 30.
Kemp said he’s also signed an order for more aggressive infection control measures at long term care facilities.
“Facilities must adopt infectious disease transfer protocols from nearby hospitals, visitors and nonessential personnel are strictly prohibited, except in compassionate care situations,” Kemp said.
The governor has also signed an order for 1,000 additional National Guard members to assist the state, and he’s ordered a suspension of short term vacation rentals in Georgia starting at 11:59 p.m. on April 30.
Kemp said faster testing is on the way due to a partnership between the Georgia Department of Public Health and Ipsom Diagnostics.
“Ipsom is able to test 2,000 specimens per day, and we’ll be able to expand capacity in the very near future. Testing will begin tomorrow (Thursday), and specimen collection sites across the state will provide results to those tests within 24 hours.”
Using his emergency powers, Kemp has closed public schools through the end of the academic year and ordered Georgia residents to shelter at home except under prescribed circumstances such as working essential jobs and grocery shopping. He has prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people and closed businesses including bars and nightclubs, gyms, movie theaters and hair salons. Restaurants can only serve meals for takeout or delivery.