Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) discusses coronavirus in Georgia.
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Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) discusses coronavirus in Georgia.

Congressman Doug Collins says Georgians need to follow precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, even if they feel healthy.

The Gainesville Republican was in self-quarantine earlier this month after being notified he might have come in contact with someone who tested positive for the illness at a conference.

He spoke to GPB News via FaceTime Tuesday afternoon to urge people who might still be following their normal routines to consider the impact on those around them.

This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

On learning he was in contact with someone who had COVID-19

Well, it's sort of a surprise. I was at the airport, getting ready to go back to Washington and received a call that said I had come in contact with someone at the CPAC conference that had tested positive.

We immediately decided that we were going to self-quarantine for the rest of the time, the 14 days. It gave me a new perspective on the fact that you could pick this up anywhere, not knowing it and possibly coming into contact with it.

So for me, it brought another awareness of what we're dealing with and how we're dealing with it in this very mobile society that we have.

We kept in contact with things like FaceTime and Skype and did a lot of interviews, but we wanted people to understand that it doesn't matter where you are, what's going on.

If you come in contact, take the precautions seriously. Take the guidelines as rules so that we can hopefully keep this rate of infection from occurring and growing exponentially, so we can flatten this curve out for everybody.

On reports of people ignoring federal guidelines and packing bars, beaches and other crowded areas

 

I think they need to take those recommendations seriously. They may not have anything right now, they may be feeling great, they think they can go out, do whatever. But it's not always about us, it's about the others we come in contact with.

And in a larger gathering, there's always that possibility, if you happen to be exposed to it and not know it… and you go around someone who may be immunosuppressed, or is an elderly person that may have a different reaction to the virus than you did.

There'll always be time for spring break. There'll always be time to go to your favorite restaurant. Let's get this thing under control before we continue to have these kind of gatherings.

MORE: Could Coronavirus Affect Georgia Elections?

On the state and federal response to coronavirus

This is probably one of the more amazing responses from the federal and state level. States are doing what they need to do. The federal government is providing help and oversight with that as well, and I think that's the way it should be working.

Governor Kemp and President Trump and others across the country have done very well.

We need to make sure that we get the aid where it needs to go. This needs to be very thought out and guided to the people who need it the most.

It’s not just simply a wish list of things that we'd like to pass. I think as we move forward, the Senate is working on a new bill. We'll see how that comes out. But the president's made it very clear that he wants to make sure that the people are taken care of, especially in our service-based economies. These are going to take the most hits: restaurants or movie theater or the travel industry.

These kind of things are such a dominant part of our economic engine. We need to make sure that the people who work in those are helped as well

On advice for residents of communities that haven’t seen large numbers of confirmed cases yet

Well, I think you'll get it anywhere. And I think that's the biggest issue that you have to realize is people travel.

Everybody's not in their house, not everybody can be. There are certain jobs and farms and everything that needs to be worked on.

But taking the precautions that need to happen, no matter where you are, is the thing is going to get us through. We're all in it together and we all get through it together.

And I think that's the biggest statement I would have from rural to urban, suburban and exurban is everybody has a part in this. We've seen no real areas that have not completely been devoid of getting some of these positive cases.

We’ve seen it in the north Georgia, northwest Georgia, and even in south Georgia with Albany and Valdosta areas seeing cases as well.

You are not completely isolated, no matter where you are.

Take the precautions seriously, do the things that need to happen. Wash your hands. Stay away from people if you're sick. If you are sick, go to the doctor, get tested.

These are the kind of things that will keep this virus from spreading in a more uncontrolled fashion so we can hopefully control this to flatten the curve so that we get to work.