Story updated Gov. Brian Kemp said that he will declare a public health emergency for Georgia on Saturday over the coronavirus crisis. He said... Kemp to declare public health emergency, Pence calls Georgia patient, Masters postponed

Story updated

Gov. Brian Kemp said that he will declare a public health emergency for Georgia on Saturday over the coronavirus crisis.

He said in a Friday statement that the declaration will help health and emergency management officials  ”by deploying all available resources for the mitigation and treatment of COVID-19.”

Kemp said he would call for a special session of the General Assembly to convene Monday to ratify this action through a joint resolution. More than 20 states have declared an emergency over the virus.

Kemp’s move Saturday will constitute Georgia’s first ever public health emergency, state officials said. It follows President Trump’s declaration Friday of a national emergency to free up $50 billion in federal resources to combat coronavirus.

“I’m urging every state to set up emergency operations centers effective immediately,” Trump added.

As of early Friday, there are 42 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. That’s the seventh highest total among states, following Washington, New York, California, Massachusetts, Colorado and Florida.

Most of the Georgia patients are in the metro Atlanta area.

(Georgians can now go online to get updates on the number of coronavirus cases in the state. A newly created Public Health website gives information on cases, plus their location by county.)

State officials also said Friday that a quarantine space for people who test positive for COVID-19 and are unable to self-isolate is under construction in Monroe County, which is south of Atlanta. The quarantine space, on the Georgia Public Safety Training Center campus, will be able to accommodate 20 temporary housing units. The state earlier this week created a similar setup in Hard Labor Creek State Park, east of Atlanta.

More than 2,000 Americans have been sickened by coronavirus, with at least 48 deaths, according to news reports.

Separately, CNN reported that a patient in a Rome hospital received a call from Vice President Mike Pence, who’s heading the federal response to the disease.

Speaking via video to CNN, the patient, Clay Bentley, said he is feeling much better. Bentley said his religious faith has helped him through his illness, which includes pneumonia.

Bentley told the network that he went to a hospital last week and was evaluated that day and then sent home. Days later, he said, his condition was worsening, and he returned to the hospital. He said he tested positive for COVID-19.


His wife, Suzy, told CNN that she is in self-quarantine at home.

In other Georgia-related news on COVID-19, the famed Masters golf tournament, held in Augusta in April, has been postponed, joining a string of sporting events delayed or called off due to concerns over coronavirus.

Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta confirmed early Friday the third and fourth load of passengers from the Grand Princess — on which 21 people tested positive for the new virus — had landed at the base to begin 14 days of quarantine, despite their not showing any COVID-19 symptoms to date, the Marietta Daily Journal reported.

Prior to arriving in Cobb County, the passengers were medically screened by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC, which are in charge of the quarantine operation.

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Andy Miller

Andy Miller is editor and CEO of Georgia Health News

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