Gov. Brian Kemp and several state and local legislators issued guidance Friday morning to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people for the next eight weeks as the novel coronavirus continues to threaten the state and country.
There are no plans to force businesses to close down. However, state and local officials are still urging people to practice social distancing, and some local businesses have shut their doors.
On Friday, the number of people from Hall County who have tested positive for COVID-19 remained at five, while the number statewide was reported at 420.
The state has been able to process 100 tests a day, meaning medical professionals have been prioritizing certain groups for testing and advising others to stay home and monitor their conditions.
There is not a backlog on COVID-19 tests in the state, Miller said, but processing and transporting the tests takes time.
“We need to help educate people on the CDC recommendations for cleaning of your hands, cleaning of surfaces, keeping your hands off your face, doing what your mother told you,” State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, said Friday. “Don’t rub your eyes. Don’t pick your nose.”
Miller said the state is not planning to force businesses to close to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Some businesses are seeing an increased workload, he said, such as health care manufacturers and long-term care facilities. Those long-term care facilities have been dealing with a worker shortage because of the fingerprinting required for hiring, but Miller said the state has expanded the necessary fingerprinting services to get those facilities the staff they need sooner.
Hall County and several of its municipalities have also said they do not have plans to force closures of businesses locally.
Miller said places of worship are encouraged to hold remote services, especially after several people in a Cartersville church were infected. The state’s Department of Corrections has suspended visitation with inmates, and he said counties should look at the same policy for their jails. Hall County has suspended on-site visitation.
With the federal government announcing Friday that tax payments will be due July 15 rather than April 15, Miller said the state is considering pushing the state deadline back but is waiting to hear details on the federal government’s plan.
“That will have a tremendous negative impact on our state revenues and this state’s ability to provide services,” he said.
Mortgage and rent assistance with people out of work is an issue being looked at by federal, rather than state, officials, Miller said.
But Miller said even in the face of uncertainty, people should stay calm.
“Rumors are causing significant impairment to the addressing of this pandemic. We as individuals need to act with prudent care and judgment for individuals that are our co-workers and family members and our neighbors and our friends,” Miller said. “Anything that’s done in advance of a pandemic will seem alarmist. Anything that’s done after a pandemic will seem inadequate.”
For those with questions, particularly those who do not have an established primary care provider, the state has set up a COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681. Miller said the number has been getting about 1,000 calls a day.