Gov. Kemp to use $100M in reserve funds to help fight against coronavirus

State officials told Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot that the decision by the governor to dip into the rainy-day reserves is not one he takes lightly.

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp tells Channel 2 Action News that he wants to take $100 million out of the state’s $2.8 billion reserves to help fight the threat of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, across the state.

State officials told Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot that the decision by the governor to dip into the rainy-day reserves is not one he takes lightly.

Georgia has worked hard to get that reserve up since the Great Recession.

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But in a letter Wednesday, Kemp said this is an important move for the safety and well-being of Georgia.

“I do not make the recommendation to draw from this account lightly. However, the spread of coronavirus represents an immediate and unforseen threat to the state,” Kemp said in a letter to lawmakers.

That money would go immediately to help fund efforts to combat the virus.

“In this time of need, we’re asking Georgians to support their neighbor because we’re all in this together,” Kemp said in a Monday news conference as he and other state leaders laid out Georgia’s response to COVID-19.

On Wednesday, Elliot walked the mostly empty halls of the Capitol after House Speaker David Ralston encouraged visitors to stay at home and watch proceedings online.

Both chambers were not in session, so many lobbyists stayed home, too, or attended committee hearings.

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“I got my Lysol spray when they come in and when they go out and my antibacterial. When I get home, I’m going to restock,” said Linda Lanier, who works at the Capitol Gift Shop.

Lanier said Wednesday was the slowest day she’s seen in three years.

Some advocacy groups asked state leaders to suspend the General Assembly for a few days, something the governor rejected.

Lanier admits she wouldn’t mind seeing a pause, at least for a couple of days, but she said, so far, she’s encouraged by the state’s response.

“They doing the best they can do because it, like, it’s new, so don’t nobody really know how we get it, how we cure it. Everybody right now just pulling for straws,” Lanier said.

Both the speaker of the House and lieutenant governor said they support the governor’s plan to pull that $100 million out of the state reserves.

Kemp’s office confirmed late Tuesday night that there are a total of six confirmed COVID-19 cases across Georgia, as well as another 16 presumptive cases that need to be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s the breakdown of the cases:

Confirmed COVID-19 (6)

  • Fulton County 3
  • Floyd County 1
  • Polk County 1
  • Cobb 1

Presumptive Positive COVID-19 (16)

  • Fulton 3
  • Cobb 6
  • Fayette 1
  • DeKalb 2
  • Gwinnett 2
  • Cherokee 1
  • Charlton 1
"As the cases become more numerous across the country, we are definitely going to see more cases here in Georgia," Kemp said Friday. "We are ready."