Gov. Brian Kemp updates residents on coronavirus Thursday, March 5, 2020.
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Gov. Brian Kemp updates residents on coronavirus Thursday, March 5, 2020.

Gov. Brian Kemp says while no new cases have been confirmed, Georgia’s Public Health Laboratory in Decatur is now able to test COVID-19 kits.

The governor updated reporters Thursday after speaking with the federal government about coronavirus preparedness and the state’s testing abilities. The 2,500 test kits that have been distributed nationwide are capable of testing 1.5 million people, Kemp said.

"I certainly know there's been a lot of concern in the media the last few days, but continue to emphasize this is still not time for Georgians to panic," the governor said. "We encourage people to continue to use common sense practices just like they would do during flu season, [like] washing their hands staying at home when you're sick."

In Georgia, at least 50 of the state's 150 initial tests have been used already, Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said, urging people to familiarize themselves with what is and isn't true about coronavirus.

"I’d say our website has the most up to date information available on what’s going on in Georgia now, and you can see we address that with specific messaging," she said.

Two cases of the disease were confirmed Monday in a Fulton County father and son, both with mild symptoms, according to health officials. 

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Two private schools in Cherokee County have been closed as a precaution after discovering the affected Fulton County teenager had contact with the homeschool groups.

Atlanta is home to both the country’s public health agency and one of the world’s busiest airports, and will host President Donald Trump, Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler Friday as they tour the CDC to highlight the government’s response. 

Influenza and flu-like illness remains widespread and high in Georgia as of Feb. 22, DPH reported. Sixty-six people have died and more than 2,100 people in the metro Atlanta area have been hospitalized with influenza.

The risk of COVID-19 in Georgia remains low for the general public at this time. Georgians should continue to follow the same measures that are urged to prevent the spread of any respiratory virus:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Stay home when you are sick. 
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. 
  • Get a flu shot! 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.