As theaters and dine-in restaurants were allowed to reopen Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp addressed the current state of the COVID-19 outbreak in Georgia and future plans in a press conference Monday.
Kemp said he has not made a plan for after his statewide shelter-in-place order ends on Thursday at midnight. Kemp said a decision will come in the next few days based on consultation with White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, along with “our data.” The separate stay-at-home order for the medically fragile and elderly will stay in effect until May 13.
At a White House press conference last week, President Donald Trump said he “disagreed strongly” with Georgia’s plan to reopen certain businesses, including gyms and barbers. Following the press conference, Georgia officials said Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both affirmed Kemp’s position over phone calls, as reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In response to reporters’ questions during the press conference, Kemp addressed Trump’s comment, stating that he and the Trump administration have been in communication.
“The president and I believe in the same exact things,” Kemp said. “We want to keep our citizens safe, and we want to reopen America.”
Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner, said testing capacity has expanded to include “virtually everyone” with mild symptoms at public health sites. Toomey also said Georgia has adequate hospital capacity, which led to last week’s decision to open certain businesses.
“We didn’t meet the full gating criteria, but we met several of them, and we were approaching a plateauing, which made us feel that it would be safe to move forward,” Toomey said, referencing federal guidelines on when states should reopen.
Georgia has 24,225 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 127,169 tests have been conducted as of Monday, according to the DPH.