Kemp to discuss how Georgia could reopen amid virus fight

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is planning a news conference where he’s expected to discuss plans for reopening the state as health officials continue battling the spread of the coronavirus.

Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston are expected to discuss the issue at the briefing Monday afternoon.

Kemp tweeted over the weekend that he participated in a conference call with other southern governors to discuss approaches to reopening their states’ economies.

In an interview with WXIA-TV on Friday, the governor said he favors uniform steps toward normalcy in Georgia to avoid a “hodgepodge” of varying approaches between cities and counties.

But Kemp also said he was weighing exemptions for hard-hit areas such as Albany.

In addition to calls from President Donald Trump, Kemp has heard scattered public calls in Georgia to lift restrictions.

Shane Hazel, a libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, promoted a small protest Sunday at the Cherokee County courthouse in Canton. In video posted on his Facebook page, Hazel argued that the restrictions were an unconstitutional imposition and that officials had “overstepped.”

“My only care in this world is liberty and rights for every individual out there,” Hazel said.

State Rep. David Clark, a Buford Republican, posted statements online Friday saying it’s “time for Georgia and America to reopen for business.”

“If we continue on the path we are headed down, we will totally destroy not only the U.S. economy, but also the world economy,” he said.

Heath officials say Georgia’s death toll from COVID-19 has risen above 700 as new numbers were reported Monday. At least 733 deaths statewide have been linked to the virus, the Georgia Department of Public Health said. Infections have been confirmed in nearly 19,000 people.

Georgia had 1,664 cases of COVID-19 in 230 nursing homes, assisted living centers and other similar facilities as of Friday, according to a list published by the state Department of Community Health. That included 250 resident deaths.

There were also 830 staff members in those facilities who had tested positive.

The PruittHealth Palmyra nursing home in Albany is listed with 106 infections, 16 resident deaths and 45 infected staff members, the worst in all categories.

However, there continued to be disputes about the accuracy of the data. One DeKalb County facility listed as having 10 positive residents and one positive staff member tells residents and family members it has had only one positive resident. The state lists two facilities as having more infected residents than it lists residents overall.

For most people, the coronavirus that caused this year’s pandemic causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, it can cause severe illness such as pneumonia, or even death.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.
Reprinted courtesy of The Associated Press