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FEMA has published a website to help the public distinguish between rumors and facts regarding the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rumors can easily circulate within communities during a crisis, so the public is urged stay informed with FEMA updated myth vs. facts related to the federal COVID-19 response. Access the page at this link: https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus-rumor-control.
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Updated May 8, 2020
New testing criteria for COVID-19 now means ANYONE who wants a test can get one.Complete the Cobb & Douglas Public Health online testing referral form at www.cdphCOVID19testing.org OR visit: cobbanddouglaspublichealth.org (click on the Coronavirus button, then click on the “Online Testing Referral” button) OR contact the CDPH Call Center at 770-514-2300 for an appointment.Testing is by appointment only.
The AU Health ExpressCare app is free, user-friendly, and available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to screen for COVID-19 symptoms. Georgians can access the app by visiting augustahealth.org, downloading AU Health ExpressCare on their smartphone, or calling (706) 721-1852.
To view the complete list of active testing sites in Georgia and for more information on hours of operation and scheduling an appointment, visit the Georgia Department of Public Health’s website here.
Updated June 1, 2020
The state of Georgia has issued guidance for a number of businesses now allowed to reopen, from bars and nightclubs, summer camps and summer school.
Starting Monday, June 1, bars and nightclubs can reopen if they apply social distancing rules and other required actions spelled out in 39 mandatory measures. These include additional screening of workers, limiting to 25 customers or no more than 35% total occupancy, regular sanitation, only serving drinks to seated patrons, limiting tables to no more than six people, and more.
Live performance venues remain closed under Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order.
Pro sports teams and organizations are allowed to open as of June 1, but must operate by rules and guidelines of their respective sports league. In-person sports must follow guidelines of non-critical organizations.
Summer schools will have to follow a set of 11 mandatory criteria that focus on enhancing campus sanitation, keeping students separated and other actions. Overnight summer camps are allowed if they can meet 33 criteria.
Gatherings, meanwhile, may now have as many as 25 people, up from 10, if 6 feet of space can be maintained between individuals.
Read the entirety of Kemp’s Executive Order 05.28.20.02 here.
Kemp also renewed Georgia’s state of emergency for a third time, extending it by one month, from June 12 to July 12. A copy of Kemp’s executive order extending the state of emergency can be found here.
Shelter-in-place orders for elderly and health-challenged individuals remains in place through June 12, with exceptions for necessary activities.
Churches that choose to restart in-person services were urged by Kemp to follow social distancing and all other previously issued health guidelines.
May 13, 2020
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp expanded Tuesday the expiration date on a number of previously issued provisions while easing several others.
Remaining closed under the order are bars, nightclubs and live event venues. They shall remain closed through May 31 under the executive order, under which most provisions are effective from May 14 until 11:59 p.m. May 31.
Read the 30-page executive order by clicking here.
Here are highlights of how the May 12 executive order affects Georgians:
Restaurants can expand operations, if they choose, to be able to allow 10 patrons per 300 square feet of public space. In calculating public space, restaurants may count waiting and bar areas, patios and any outdoor eating space, but may not include hallways, restrooms, or spaces closed to patrons. Furthermore, dining tables may now able to accommodate as many as 10 people, up from the previously mandated limit of six people.
For gyms and fitness centers, minor revisions have been made to mandatory criteria to allow for enhanced flexibility, but strict social distancing and sanitation rules still apply across the board.
Any establishment that had been allowed to re-open under previous issued executive order must continue to adhere to previously issued regulations in order to mitigate the exposure and spread of COVID-19. Mandatory restrictions for sanitation and social distancing remain in place for all non-critical infrastructure businesses, and for recently reopened businesses, industry-specific restrictions remain in place through the end of May.
Social distancing should be practiced by all residents and visitors to the state, while refraining from gathering in groups of 10 or more people unless 6 feet of space or more can be maintained between persons.
No businesses, corporations, nonprofits, organization, or county or municipal governments shall allow gatherings of persons. This affects operations of the City of Powder Springs, effectively banning in-person meetings of the City Council and other boards as well as the closure of public spaces.
The wearing of face coverings by people when outside the home remains encouraged.
The previously issued shelter-in-place order for medically fragile and elderly Georgians remains in place until June 12, 2020.
Summer camps are allowed to operate if they are able to meet nearly three dozen measures mandated in the order, while childcare facilities can operate if they meet their own set of standards outlined in the order along with previously issued safety measures that apply to other establishments. These mandates are contained in the executive order, which can be read here.
This new Executive Order increases the number of people allowed in a single classroom of a childcare facility from 10 to 20 people so long as staff-to-children ratios set by the Department of Early Care and Learning are also maintained.
As all of these mandates come from the state, questions regarding them should be directed to the governor’s office and related state offices.
The Office of the Governor, Brian Kemp
Georgia Department of Economic Development
Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency
For any enforcement issues, please contact the Georgia Department of Public Safety/Georgia State Patrol
May 1, 2020
The Office of Gov. Brian P. Kemp on Friday released a series of six posters that spell out who must shelter in place through June 12, 2020; basic rules for businesses which were previously closed or remain closed; further details on the large gatherings ban and exceptions to that ban; and minimum criteria businesses must meet in order to continue in-person operations.
Click here to open the six-page PDF containing all six informational posters.
Georgia’s statewide shelter-in-place order will end effective 11:59 p.m. Thursday, April 30, for most Georgians, though Gov. Brian Kemp is urging residents to continue to stay home whenever possible.
But Kemp in an executive order signed Thursday extended an existing shelter-in-place order for medically fragile and elderly Georgians until June 12, 2020. It had been set to expire on May 13.
Businesses must still adhere to previously issued “strict social distancing and sanitation rules” through May 13.
The entirety of Kemp’s order, which extends Georgia’s state of emergency through June 12, can be found here.
April 20, 2020
While Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday announced that a number of business sectors will be allowed to open as soon as Friday, April 24, the statewide shelter in place order remains active and expires at 11:59 p.m. on April 30 for most Georgians. Residents and visitors to the state are urged everyone to continue to follow state and federal guidance by sheltering in place as often as possible.
An additional order signed by Kemp on April 8 mandates that no vacation rental shall occur in Georgia starting at midnight Wednesday, April 8, through 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, April 30. The term "vacation rental" means any transaction to lease or license residential property for residential or vacation purposes, facilitated by a third party or broker for 30 days or less between a corporation, partnership, person, or other entity and a private person.
Read more about the shelter in place order, and stipulations regarding businesses that can reopen before the order is lifted, at this link: https://www.cityofpowdersprings.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=808.
(From the Office of the Governor, gov.georgia.gov)
Governor Brian P. Kemp, Dr. Kathleen Toomey, and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) urge all Georgians to continue to follow safe daily habits to reduce our risk of exposure to COVID-19 and keep the virus from spreading. Wear a face covering in public settings, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently.
A cloth face covering should be worn whenever people are in a community setting where social distancing may be difficult, such as in the grocery store, picking up food at a restaurant, or riding public transportation and especially in areas of widespread community transmission of COVID-19. Cloth face coverings help slow the spread of the virus and help people who may be infected and not know it from transmitting it to others.
The use of cloth face coverings does not take the place of social distancing. Stay at least six feet from other people, do not gather in groups, stay out of crowded places, and avoid mass gatherings.
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer — at least 60% alcohol — when soap and water are not readily available. Practice good health hygiene, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
For more information about COVID-19, visit https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
For updates on COVID-19, follow @GaDPH, @GeorgiaEMA, and @GovKemp on Twitter and @GaDPH, @GEMA.OHS, and @GovKemp on Facebook.
Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities. The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
A significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity — for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing — even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.
In light of this new evidence, CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus.
CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.
The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
Cloth face coverings should:
The CDC lists several ways to create face coverings, from sew to no sew methods, at this link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html.
On May 12, 2020, Governor Kemp issued Executive Order 05.12.20.02, “Reviving a Healthy Georgia,” which allows public swimming pools to be reopened. The Georgia Department of Public Health and local county health departments regulate public swimming pools in Georgia, including the following:
Public pools regulated under Title 31, Chapter 45 of the Georgia Code and Chapter 511-3-5 of the Rules of the Department of Public Health (including municipal, school, hotel, and motel pools, any pool to which access is granted in exchange for payment of a daily fee, special purpose pools, spas, and recreational water parks);
Pools operating under County Ordinances, including subdivision, apartment and country club pools; and
Public pools as defined in the State’s mandatory International Swimming Pool and Spa Code.
Under the Governor’s Order, recreational water parks that operate single waterslides and similar non-mechanical attractions at municipal, county, state, or community-operated pools will be allowed to reopen, consistent with Safety Fire Commissioner Rule 120-3-27-.43. However, recreational water parks that are operators of water amusement rides as defined in Code section 25-15-51(1) and Safety Fire Commissioner Rule 120-3-27-.02(54) must remain closed.
To reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 at public swimming pools, the Department has developed mitigation measures contained in a seven-page guidance document.
These mitigation measures are based on Executive Order 05.12.20.02 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on operating and managing public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds during the pandemic.
Among the measures strongly recommended for all operators of public swimming pools:
Read the entirety of the Georgia Department of Public Health’s guidance on public swimming pools here.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced April 9 that he is postponing the statewide General Primary/Presidential Preference Primary Election until June 9, 2020.
The move follows Gov. Brian Kemp’s extension a day earlier of the public health state of emergency until May 13, 2020. Kemp’s action also extended the statewide shelter in place order until April 30, 2020.
According to Cobb Elections and Voter Registration, early in-person voting will begin on May 18. Votes already cast during the suspended advance voting period in March will be counted at the time of the June 9 Primary. Voters are encouraged to submit an absentee ballot application for the June 9 general primary to receive a ballot by mail, as soon as they become available, with the Secretary of State’s vendor expected to mail them starting April 21. Voters who have already submitted an absentee ballot application for the May 19 Primary do not need to submit another application for the June 9 date.
The State Road and Tollway Authority is reducing the service levels of Xpress transit to balance the need to implement social distancing on the coaches while efficiently serving a much smaller ridership that still includes essential workers in the region. Xpress is committed to doing its part in slowing the spread of the coronavirus while continuing to provide critical services to healthcare professionals, first responders and other employees in key industries that rely on public transit.
Effective April 13, 2020 SRTA Makes Additional Service Reductions and Suspends Fares for Xpress Transit
While these changes may be inconvenient to some customers, Xpress officials believe these operational decisions meet the needs of protecting the health and safety of our customers and the Xpress transit employees and our goal of continuing to run safe and reliable service without major disruptions.
CLICK TO SEE REDUCED SERVICE SCHEDULES (As of April 13, 2020): https://www.xpressga.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Xpress-Reduction-of-Service-Public-Schedules-for-4.13.2020.pdf
Coronavirus scams could be making the rounds, according to governor’s office. These may range from websites selling bogus products, fake emails or texts, and social media posts that may be aimed at stealing people’s money or personal information.
“These scam emails and posts may promote awareness and offer prevention tips and fake information about cases in your area. They also might ask for donations to help victims of the virus, offer advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments,” Kemp’s office says.
Among the tips shared by the governor’s office and Attorney General Chris Carr:
Heed these tips to reduce the spread of any respiratory illness:
From the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drugabuse.gov:
Because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape. People with opioid use disorder (OUD) and methamphetamine use disorder may also be vulnerable due to those drugs’ effects on respiratory and pulmonary health. Additionally, individuals with a substance use disorder are more likely to experience homelessness or incarceration than those in the general population, and these circumstances pose unique challenges regarding transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. All these possibilities should be a focus of active surveillance as we work to understand this emerging health threat.
We know very little right now about COVID-19 and even less about its intersection with substance use disorders. But we can make educated guesses based on past experience that people with compromised health due to smoking or vaping and people with opioid, methamphetamine, cannabis, and other substance use disorders could find themselves at increased risk of COVID-19 and its more serious complications—for multiple physiological and social/environmental reasons.
For the full article and additional links, visit https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2020/04/covid-19-potential-implications-individuals-substance-use-disorders.