ATLANTA - Georgia's governor issued a "shelter-in-place" order Monday afternoon for groups "at-risk" while Atlanta's mayor took it a step further implementing a citywide "shelter-in-place" order for all residents.
Monday evening, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an executive order asking all residents of the city of "stay at their place of residence" for 14 days starting at midnight on March 24. The order, which was filed shortly before 9 p.m., also urges homeless people to seek out shelter and direct "government and other entities to provide it."
In addition to the stay-at-home order, the mayor's order compels "all businesses to cease non-essential operations at physical locations within the city of Atlanta" as well prohibits "all non-essential gatherings of any number of individuals."
"Based upon our density & specific needs/concerns in Atlanta, I’ve signed a 14 day Stay at Home Order," the mayor wrote on Twitter.
Just four hours earlier, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp spoke from the State Capitol ordering all "at-risk" groups to shelter-in-place.
Speaking to the state Monday just after 5 p.m., Gov. Kemp said that a new executive order will require Georgia Department of Health to require individuals with an increased risk of the virus to isolate, quarantine, or shelter in place.
The groups affected by the order include people living in longterm care facilities, have chronic lung disease, are undergoing cancer treatment, have a positive or are suspected to have a positive test, or who have been exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
The executive order will also enforce a statewide closure of all bars and nightclubs and a ban of all public gatherings of 10 people or more for the foreseeable future to try and reduce the spread of coronavirus.
After the order, the Georgia Department of Health will be given the power to close any business, organization, nonprofit, or establishment that does not comply with the new restrictions.
The governor said the order will go in effect Tuesday at noon and will expire on Monday, April 6 at noon.
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"These measures are intended to ensure the health and safety of Georgians across our state and I would ask for everyone's cooperation over the next two weeks," Kemp said. "They will protect the medically fragile, mitigate potential exposure in public venues and allow the state to ramp up emergency preparedness efforts as cases increase in each region.
Kemp said he was calling on all Georgians to help fight the spread of disease "with everything you've got."
"This fight is far from over, but we are in this fight today. Look out for your fellow Georgians and pray for their safety," he said.
Kemp's decision follows similar declarations from the governors of Virginia, Michigan, Indiana and other states in the last few days. You can find a list of states where all or some residents have been ordered to stay at home here.
As of noon on Monday, the state had 772 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from the 620 the Georgia Department of Health reported Sunday night. The death toll from the virus has increased to 33.
On March 14, Kemp signed a public health state of emergency for Georgia, calling the virus "an unprecedented health emergency." The declaration allows resources to be marshaled for the treatment and mitigation of the virus.
Since then, all public schools in the state were ordered closed until March 31. Public gatherings have also been limited to no more than 10 people in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Kemp had stopped from stronger steps, however, including ordering restaurants to close, leaving that decision to local governments.
In response, multiple counties and cities have enacted their own local states of emergency. Earlier on Monday, DeKalb County became the latest to declare a state of emergency, limiting restaurants and bars to take-out and delivery service only.
At least four members of the Georgia state Senate has tested positive for the virus, with the latest two announcing their positive tests on Facebook Sunday night. Lt. Geoff Duncan has been in self-quarantine after the first senator's test was released and the 2020 legislative session was suspended.
Public health officials have urged social distancing to slow down or stop the spread of coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults who are 60+ and people with serious medical conditioners, such as heart disease and diabetes, are at higher risk of getting very sick from coronavirus.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.
Georgia has opened at least 13 drive-thru locations for virus testing and plans more. Kemp says the priority for tests is being given to those at highest risk — the elderly, people who already have chronic illnesses, those in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities and first responders such as paramedics.
Best prevention measures:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.