Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order to require people with an increased risk of complications to isolate, quarantine or shelter in place as well as the closure of bars, nightclubs and a ban on gatherings of 10 or more, effective noon Tuesday until noon April 6.
The order applies to those living in long-term care facilities, undergoing cancer treatment or who have a chronic lung disease. It also covers those who tested positive for COVID-19, are suspected to test positive for the disease, or were exposed to someone with the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The Department of Public Health will implement rules to regulate the order.
The order will also close all bars and nightclubs and will ban all gatherings of 10 or more people unless a distance of six feet or more can be maintained. The DPH will obtain the power to close any business or organization not in compliance with the executive order.
Due to a large increase of applications for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, applicants will be allowed to receive the maximum amount for their household in March and April, Kemp said. He said the average SNAP benefit per Georgia household is $225 while the maximum benefit amount for a household of one is $194.
He also added that individuals who receive SNAP will receive an additional $100 in March and April. Kemp said the move is to support senior citizens who on average receive $15 a month from SNAP benefits.
Kemp said one of the biggest challenges is health care capacity across the state, where hospital beds are filling and supplies may run short. Hospitals are working to increase capacity through additional buildings and the temporary medical facility at Dobbins Air Reserve Base will continue to be used. According to Kemp, the state is collaborating with the Army Corps of Engineers to consider converting vacant and underutilized properties for hospital space.
The state multi-agency task force distributed medical supplies from Georgia’s strategic national stockpile warehouse of personal protective equipment, Kemp said. The state has shipped ventilators, N95 masks, face shields, surgical gowns and masks, gloves and general hospital supplies to hospitals.
Kemp also detailed COVID-19 testing locations and restrictions. People must have a referral from a doctor to get a test from one of 23 testing sites in the state. Those able to get a test are currently limited to the elderly, members of law enforcement, long-term care facility residents and staff, first responders and health care workers.
On Friday, Kemp signed executive orders authorizing $20 million in emergency funding to pay for medical supplies and temporarily reducing some health care regulations. All licensed pharmacists can fill a 90-day supply of a prescription medication even if the patient has no remaining refills. There are also new processes for expedited licensure of out-of-state doctors, nurses and pharmacists, Kemp said. Graduate nursing students who have not taken their license exam can also apply for a temporary license.
Georgia’s tax filing deadline is now July 15, matching the new federal tax filing deadline, Kemp said.