Gov. Kemp: 2 coronavirus patients in Georgia

Two people in Georgia have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, Gov. Brian Kemp announced during a late-night press conference Monday. Both patients live together and one recently returned from Italy.

Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey said the patients live in Fulton County and contacted their doctor once one of them returned and felt sick. Because of their travel history, they had contacted their doctor and arranged to meet the doctor without putting the general public at risk. Dr. Toomey said because of the precautions the two patients took, the risk of it spreading among the community is low.

Dr. Toomey said their symptoms are minimal and neither have not been hospitalized, but are staying isolated in the home with other relatives.

Health officials are working to identify others who may have been exposed. Those people will be contacted and monitored for fever and respiratory issues for the next few weeks.

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Gov. Kemp said he spoke with Vice President Mike Pence, who was put in charge of the federal coronavirus response last week, about the cases just prior to his publically making the announcement.

“Our team has been working around the clock to prepare for any scenario. Already, state health officials have established contact with these individuals to gather more information, monitor their condition, and determine any exposure,” said Gov. Kemp. “They are confident that our efforts to prepare for this moment have enabled us to manage these cases appropriately and minimize any risks moving forward. We remain in constant communication with our partners at all levels of government, and we will continue to update members of the public as information becomes available.”

“We knew that Georgia would likely have confirmed cases of COVID-19, and we planned for it. The immediate risk of COVID-19 to the general public, however, remains low at this time,” said Dr. Toomey. “I cannot emphasize enough the need for all Georgians to follow the simple precautions that DPH always urges to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.”

Dr. Toomey said the virus is spread through the air, especially through coughs and sneezes. Symptoms will become apparent within 14 days of exposure. Those include fever, cough, runny nose, and difficulty breathing.

Health officials say, in addition to everyday health precautions, it is important to get a flu shot right now to prevent a weakening of the immune system and to help doctors rule it out when making a diagnosis.

The death toll from the coronavirus in the U.S. climbed to six Monday and the disease spread to ever more countries and world capitals, even as new cases in China dropped to their lowest level in six weeks.