Gov. Brian Kemp signed two executive orders extending the Public Health State of Emergency and existing COVID-19 safety measures on Monday, just one day after the Georgia Department of Public Health reported a new daily high of positive cases.
The DPH reported 2,225 new cases on Sunday, which eclipsed the previous highest daily total of 1,990, a mark set just one day earlier. On Monday, the DPH reported 2,207 new positive tests, just shy of Sunday’s total.
Overall, Georgia’s COVID-19 total climbed to 79,417 positive cases, 10,824 hospitalizations and 2,784 deaths on Monday.
Gordon County’s total climbed to 356 confirmed cases on Monday, with 43 hospitalizations and 18 deaths reported locally. Those numbers represent an increase of 58 positive cases and four hospitalizations over the past week.
The Georgia Department of Public Health issues daily reports at 3 p.m. That report and additional data can be found online at dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
Kemp acknowledged the climbing numbers on Monday.
“While we continue to see a decreasing case fatality rate, expanded testing, and adequate hospital surge capacity, in recent days, Georgia has seen an increase in new cases reported and current hospitalizations. Given these trends, I am extending previous COVID-19 safety requirements and guidelines that were due to expire on June 30 at 11:59 p.m. Dr. Kathleen Toomey and the Department of Public Health, along with our local public health partners, will continue to monitor ongoing cases and related data to ensure that we are taking appropriate measures moving forward. Together, we can win the fight against COVID-19 and emerge stronger,” the governor said in a statement.
Executive Order 06.29.20.01 extends the Public Health State of Emergency through 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 11. The Public Health State of Emergency allows for enhanced coordination across government and the private sector for supply procurement, comprehensive testing, and healthcare capacity.
Executive Order 06.29.20.02 continues to require social distancing, bans gatherings of more than 50 people unless there is six feet between each person, outlines mandatory criteria for businesses, and requires sheltering in place for those living in long-term care facilities and the medically fragile. The order also outlines that the State Board of Education must provide “rules, regulations, and guidance for the operation of public elementary and secondary schools for local boards of education” in accordance with guidance from Toomey, the Department of Public Health, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The order runs through 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15.
The surge in infections comes about two months after Georgia began lifting restrictions April 24 on hair salons, gyms, bowling alleys and other businesses that had been forced to close to slow the virus. Restaurants, retail stores and bars have since reopened as well.
Health officials believe the actual number of infections is likely far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause more severe illness and even death.