ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp has extended the state’s shelter-in-place order through the end of the month.
The order was set to expire on April 13. It will now end on April 30.
LIVE coverage of all of today’s developments right now on Channel 2 Action News.
Kemp announced the extension during an afternoon news conference at the state Capitol, where he gave an update on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“While I’m encouraged by some of the recent data, we still have incredible challenges before us,” Kemp said.
The governor said he has also signed an executive order mandating more aggressive measures at all assisted living and nursing homes in the state.
On Tuesday, Channel 2 Action News broke the news of 10 people who died from complications of the virus at an Athens nursing home. In the governor’s new order, more sanitary measures are being required by workers inside nursing and senior living homes.
The order also said visitors and non-essential workers can only visit the facilities in end of life circumstances.
Kemp said that the Georgia National Guard is currently working in nursing homes across the state, cleaning and sanitizing 7%-10% of the state’s facilities each day.
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The governor also announced he is activating another 1,000 guard members in the fight against the virus.
“We cannot take our foot off the gas. We have got to continue to keep working,” Kemp said. “We continue to remain hunkered down and prepared for any circumstance that comes our way.”
The governor said extra capacity is being added at two hospitals in Albany, one in Snellville and other units that will be strategically placed across the state.
Earlier in the day, Kemp’s office announced the extension of the public health state of emergency. That order will now be in place until May 13.
“This measure will allow us to continue to deploy resources to communities in need, lend support to frontline medical providers, and keep preparing as we brace for potential patient surge in our healthcare facilities," Kemp said in a news release. “We deeply appreciate the hard work of Georgians who are sheltering in place, using social distancing, and helping us flatten the curve. We are in this fight together.”
Kemp also addressed the measures that the state’s labor department is taking to process unemployment claims.
The governor said the labor department has processed a record number of unemployment claims in the last two weeks and that department continues to work around the clock to process claims.
Kemp also urged Georgians to buy local, especially when it came to produce. The governor said the state’s farmers are taking a massive hit tied to the coronavirus outbreak because local farmers sell their produce to schools, which have been closed for the rest of the school year and also local restaurants, most of which are only offering to-go orders if they have not made the decision to shutdown completely.
“It’s another gut punch for the farmers and the farming families,” Kemp said, referring to the damage that Hurricane Michael left behind two years ago that destroyed crops across south and middle Georgia.