Gov. Brian Kemp delivers an update on coronavirus in Georgia.
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Gov. Brian Kemp delivers an update on coronavirus in Georgia.

COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported in 58 long-term health facilities, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health, days after more than 100 Georgia National Guardsmen were deployed to assisted-living facilities and nursing homes with coronavirus cases.

There are 6,383 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in at least 147 of Georgia’s 159 counties with 208 reported deaths as of 7 p.m. Saturday, April 4. 

More than 25,000 tests have been performed by state and commercial labs. 1,266 people have been hospitalized.

In Albany alone, there have been 1,197 positive test results and 41 reported deaths with more than 750 patients still awaiting results as of 1:41 p.m. Saturday.  210 patients have recovered according to Phoebe Health.

Here is the latest coronavirus news from Georgia for Saturday, April 4, 2020.

Georgia Prepares For Surge Of COVID-19 Patients

Two previously closed medical  facilities in Albany and Snellville will re-open, making 208 additional beds available during the pandemic, the governor’s office announced in a news release Saturday. 

Four additional temporary medical units will provide 88 hospital beds by mid-April in Rome, Albany, Atlanta and a yet-to-be-determined location.

First Death Of A Georgia Nurse

The first nurse from Georgia passed away from COVID-19 April 2, according to an a news release from the Georgia Nurses Association Friday. In it, the association’s president thanked the public for their support through the long hours. “We will lose colleagues, family, and friends to this deadly disease. We will be there for you and each other,” President Richard Lamphier said.

The news comes as Georgia officially enters a state-wide lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

University of Georgia Will Provide Housing For Nurses in Albany

In Albany, where the county is feeling the strain of an unfurling health crisis after the virus spread among funeral goers, Gov. Brian Kemp announced he would make available temporary housing at Albany State to traveling nurses assisting the medical staff at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. Medical support teams and the National Guard have, in recent days, deployed to support the hospital staff as 36 people have died in the county with more than 1,000 people awaiting results.

What Does The Shelter-In-Place Order Mean?

Georgia’s shelter in place order went into effect 6 p.m. Friday, requiring the state’s residents to stay at home with few exceptions. The order currently runs through April 13.

Projections from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation show the peak of Georgia’s infections won’t come until the end of April, and the state could run out of hospital bed space in less than two weeks. church and funeral unless congregants stay six feet away from one another.

Some jobs and businesses are considered “essential infrastructure” and will still be open, albeit with more health and safety precautions in place. Restaurants may remain open but cannot allow dine-in customers. Rather, they can offer take out, delivery or curbside pickup to stay open.

Other businesses will temporarily shutter. Bars and nightclubs already have closed down statewide and now gyms, bowling alleys, barber shops join the list. More than 10 people will be unable to attend church and funeral unless congregants stay six feet away from one another.

Read frequently-asked questions the governor’s office created below.

Coastal Leaders Resist Beach Opening

Kemp’s shelter-in-place order rescinds local restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, including those closing Georgia’s beaches. In a scathing statement Saturday, Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions called it a “reckless mandate.”

 

Sessions said that while the beaches, which are regulated by the state Department of Natural Resources, must reopen, the city of Tybee would keep its beach access points and parking lots closed until further notice. She also said the city would “pursue legal avenues” to overturn the state decision.

 

DNR put in place its own order aimed at limiting beach use. It bans chairs, tents and umbrellas seaward of the ordinary high-water mark. That’s the portion of the beach that is state property.

 

In a Facebook post, State Rep. Jesse Petrea, whose district includes Tybee Island, said DNR rangers were expected to patrol beaches to enforce strict social distancing.

 

Mayor Of Savannah Frustrated By Order

“Dangerous, irresponsible and sad,” Mayor Van Johnson said on Facebook Friday night, expressing his frustrations over some of the allowances for businesses in Georgia’s statewide shelter-in-place order. 

Kemp’s order will negate some of the city of Savannah’s orders the mayor announced days before. Now businesses that had been closed to slow the spread of coronavirus will be allowed to reopen. Johnson expressed concerns about the city’s lack of ability to enforce restrictions. 

Sheriffs Deputized To Enforce The Order

The governor has deputized county sheriffs for enforcement of the shelter-in-place edict, along with state troopers, he announced in another executive order Friday.

Law enforcement will now be able to  enforce the stay-at-home regulations, including limiting groups of 10 or more in public, as well as  shutting down nonprofits and businesses seen to be violating his order.

Walmart Limits Number Of Customers Allowed In Stores

Walmart stores across the country will not allow more than five customers for every 1,000 square feet in  a store at any given time beginning Saturday, according to a corporate announcement. The new restriction equates to about 20% of a store’s capacity and will be managed with the implementation of a one way in and one way out structure.