COVID-19 Update (March 24, 2020)

As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to update you on some key developments.

For the most up-to-date information, please check the following:

Georgia Department of Public Health COVID-19 hotline: 1-844-442-2681

Facebook Live Town Hall Video

If you missed our Facebook Live Town Hall last week, you can watch the video here. I answered nearly all the questions sent my way and covered details concerning the state’s response to COVID-19, the state of emergency declared by Gov. Kemp, the roll-out of the U.S. Census, and the latest update on our March 24th and May 19th elections.

Gov. Kemp’s Newest Executive Orders

Late yesterday afternoon, Governor Kemp issued two new Executive Orders, which in part suspended restrictions on those medical practitioners whose medical licenses have lapsed or become inactive. But the biggest impact are the new restrictions placed on Georgians:

  • Closure of all bars and nightclubs;
     
  • Ban on all gatherings of ten or more people unless you can maintain at least six feet between people at all times; and
     
  • Mandatory isolation, quarantine, or shelter-in-place for all “medically fragile” Georgians, including all those who:
    • live in a long-term care facility;
    • have chronic lung disease;
    • are undergoing cancer treatment, have a positive COVID-19 test;
    • are suspected to have COVID-19 because of their symptoms and exposure;
    • or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.

Other developments at the state level include:

  • State income tax deadline: Has been extended to July 15, in conjunction with the new federal filing deadline.
     
  • May 19th Election: The Secretary of State’s Office will mail an absentee ballot request application to all 6.9 million “active” registered voters for the May 19th primary election.
    • Check your voting “status” here.
    • “Inactive” voters may still request an absentee ballot here.
       
  • Additional benefits for SNAP recipients: The Georgia Office of Family Independence will be delivering Pandemic Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (P-SNAP) benefits to eligible applicants on March 31st.
    • P-SNAP is a temporary, federally authorized special allotment to help vulnerable Americans affected by Coronavirus or COVID-19. P-SNAP ensures that eligible households automatically receive the maximum SNAP benefit allowed by law.
    • There is no special application necessary, but those who are interested in applying are encouraged to do so online at gateway.ga.gov.
    • Those who do not have access to online resources can call 877-423-4746 to have an application be mailed to them or for other options.
       
  • Prescriptions: Pharmacists may now dispense early refills and a 90-day supply of a prescription drug if a patient has no remaining refills and the pharmacist cannot get in contact with the prescribing provider.
    • These authorizations do not apply to Schedule II controlled substances (e.g., hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), methadone (Dolophine®), meperidine (Demerol®), oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®), fentanyl (Sublimaze®, Duragesic®) morphine, opium, codeine, and hydrocodone, amphetamine (Dexedrine®, Adderall®), methamphetamine (Desoxyn®), and methylphenidate (Ritalin®), amobarbital, glutethimide, and pentobarbital).
       
  • Sign-up for medical volunteers: The Georgia Department of Public Health is asking all medical professionals and other individuals looking for ways to help with the COVID-19 response to please sign-up as a medical volunteer here.
    • Prospective volunteers will be asked for their name, address, contact information, and occupation type. In order to be eligible for some assignments, responders are encouraged to complete a profile summary, which includes skills and certifications, training, medical history, emergency contact, and deployment preferences. Once your skills and credentials are reviewed, you will be notified by a DPH representative.

Pending Response by Georgia Cities

On the heels of Gov. Kemp’s announcement yesterday, the Georgia Municipal Association (professional association of Georgia’s mayors, city council members, and city employees) this morning urged the leaders of all 538 cities in Georgia to:

  • declare public health emergencies;
  • shut down non-essential businesses within their boundaries;
  • prohibit dining in at food establishments;
  • prohibit public and private gatherings of more than 10 people; and
  • implement a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

As city councils hold meetings this week to consider this and other actions, expect to see additional restrictions put in place at the local level. For the most up-to-date information, please check the following websites for our local governments:

New Restrictions for DeKalb County

Also yesterday, DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond issued an Executive Order, declaring a state of emergency and imposing restrictions on businesses and individuals in unincorporated portions of the County.  Specifically, the order imposes the following restrictions:

  • Voluntary curfew 9 p.m.––6 a.m.;
  • Playgrounds closed;
  • Essential businesses shall have operating hours not earlier than 6 a.m. or later than 9 p.m. This includes healthcare operations, utilities, banks, delivery services, businesses selling food, pharmacies, auto repair, bike shops, animal shelters, childcare facilities, news media, janitorial services, mail and shipping services, and many others;
  • No dining in restaurants, but curbside and take-out are allowed;
  • No public gatherings of 10 or more per current CDC guidance;
  • Moratorium on evictions and county-initiated water disconnections;
  • Salons, barbershops, gyms, bowling alleys, etc. must have occupancy under 10;
  • Funerals must be 10 or under in attendance;
  • Restaurants with liquor licenses can sell unopened containers;
  • Businesses should restrict in person contact and maintain a distance of 6 feet between individuals;
  • Houses of worship shall strive for density reduction and are encouraged to put services online;

The Order also provides various initiatives to address the economic impact. Among others, the County will appropriate emergency funding of approximately $400,000 to the DeKalb Works Summer Youth Employment Program to increase the number of summer youth employment participants from 400 to 800 youth.

New Restrictions for City of Atlanta

Last night, Mayor Bottoms issued a 14-day shelter-in-place order in effect until April 7th. Aside from exceptions for “essential” services and businesses, Atlanta residents are directed to stay inside their homes.

  • The exemptions to the order include essential city services and businesses, grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, laundromats, parks, the Atlanta BeltLine and restaurants serving takeout.
  • While using outdoor spaces, including city parks, residents are ordered to maintained to practice social distancing and remain at least six feet away from other people.

Stay safe,
Matthew