Gov. Kemp says state is battling 2 wars: Coronavirus and the economy

ATLANTA — A smaller percentage of Georgians are testing positive for corona virus. The percentage of people being tested who actually have coronavirus appears to be declining daily.

A week ago, Georgia was at about 23% of people testing positive. As of Friday, that number was at about 16%.

Hospitals are also telling the governor that they're not stressed by COVID-19 patients.

Late Friday afternoon, Channel 2 anchor Justin Farmer spoke one-on-one with Gov. Brian Kemp about the data and the partial reopening of Georgia.

Kemp said he is well aware of those who have loudly opposed his partial opening of the economy last week.

Seven days later, he said the data is driving his decisions.

The governor said the key stat isn't total number of infected, that will go up for a while as testing is more widespread, it's about percentages testing positive.

The governor said he's also influenced by hospital CEOs.

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"They continue to see some of the lowest rates of COVID patients that they've seen. In fact, Piedmont (Hospital) said that their peak was back on March 31, and today was the lowest number of COVID patients that they've had system wide."

Kemp told Farmer that he's also working on a plan to help the hardest hit communities.

"Look, we realize, you know, African Americans are affected by this disproportionately. We've got a community outreach committee that we worked on work with this week to set up a testing site in one of those most more vulnerable communities"

With the state required to have a balanced budget, Farmer asked the governor how the state can handle this economically.

“We've got to fight two wars right now. We got to fight the coronavirus war, and then we got to fight the war to bring our economy back, because there are substantial negative impacts from both of those,” Kemp said.

Kemp said the number of Georgians being tested is way up.

On April 23, just under 7,000 people were tested in Georgia, compared to nearly 21,000 on Thursday.

This comes as businesses started to reopen across the state this week. Some companies said they’re just not ready to open their doors.

Ginger Howard admits the past few months have been tough for her small Buckhead boutique.

“To have no revenue coming in, I did a very little bit of online business, a little bit of phone orders, but nothing like I usually do,” Howard said to Channel 2’s Richard Elliot.

Howard joined some other faith-based businesses in a social networking chat hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition on Friday.

She said she supports the governor’s reopening plan and intends to follow all the guidelines.

“God is faithful, and we reopened today and started off a little skittish this morning. We had one or two customers coming with their mask. We had our masks on and our little gloves,” Howard said.

Other businesses like Boxcar at Hop City are a little more reluctant to fully reopen. They’ve decided to take on a more measured approach.

“We are not quite comfortable with the idea of having guests in our dining room,” said Kraig Torres, who owns the Boxcar at Hop City in the West End and Barleygarden in Alpharetta.

Torres told Elliot that he made the decision to shut down a couple of months ago, but thanks to federal loans, has been able to keep his entire staff on payroll.

Even with the Georgia safety guidelines, he said he's not ready to fully reopen. So for now, he made the decision Friday to open up their to-go windows.

He said they'll just wait and see.

“I think we’re continuing to watch the data. We’re watching how many people test positive. We’re watching how many people are sick and dying. We hate this. This is a terrible time for all of us,” Torres said.

He is hoping the to-go window will make his customers happy and will put some extra money into his employees’ pockets.

The shelter-in-place order does remain in effect for nursing homes, long term care facilities, as well as the elderly and medically fragile.