GEORGIA (WTOC) - Governor Brian Kemp held a news conference late Monday night confirming the first two cases of coronavirus in Georgia.
Governor Kemp spoke with Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey at 10 p.m at the state capitol.
The two cases are contained to the same household in Fulton County. One of the people in the household had just returned from Italy. State officials say both have mild symptoms and are isolated at home with other relatives to keep the illness from spreading.
“I want to take a moment to emphasize the Georgians should remain calm,” Governor Kemp said during the news conference.
Governor Kemp spoke with Vice President Mike Pence about the two confirmed cases earlier Monday evening. He then briefed the Governor’s Coronavirus Task Force before his news conference.
“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 Governor 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 Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H, DPH commissioner. “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.”
U.S. Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler issued a joint statement saying, "We’re closely monitoring the cases of coronavirus in Georgia and urge everyone to take extra precautions. Governor Kemp and the Trump Administration are working with us to ensure we keep Georgians healthy and safe. It is of utmost importance that Georgia has the resources necessary to respond accordingly. Fortunately, we have the best and brightest working at the CDC here in Atlanta to continue to help prepare the country.”
COVID-19 spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms take anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure to appear. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, and difficulty breathing.
Those considered at risk for contracting the virus are individuals who have traveled to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 or individuals in close contact with a person infected with COVID-19.
Best practices to prevent COVID-19, according to the DPH:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 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.
The flu is still widespread and active in Georgia. It is not too late to get your flu shot. While the flu shot will not protect against COVID-19, it can prevent other complications.
If you have recently traveled to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 and develop a fever with cough and shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel, or if you have had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, stay home and call your health care provider or local health department right away. Be sure to call before going to a doctor’s office, emergency room, or urgent care center and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
The CDC recommended that universities consider postponing or canceling foreign exchange programs. Georgia Southern University leadership is discussing future programs, but states only seven students who are currently abroad and confirmed only one was in an area currently designated Level 3. The university states it is reaching out to students to provide guidance and assistance if needed.
The Coastal Health District confirmed to WTOC that the Georgia Public Health Lab has received the new coronavirus testing kits. The lab is doing quality assessment and quality control validating, and barring unforeseen issues, will be able to begin testing at the end of the week. However, this does not mean you can walk into a doctor’s office and ask for a test. The CDC has criteria for who should be tested.
An interactive map created by Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) shows up to date information on cases and deaths related to the COVID-19 outbreak:
For more information on the coronavirus, head to the Center for Disease Control’s website.