Kemp sets aside $100 million to fight coronavirus

Gov. Brian Kemp notified the General Assembly Wednesday he is adding $100 million to this year’s state budget to deal with the impacts of coronavirus on Georgia.

“The spread of coronavirus represents a significant threat to our state’s health network, financial well-being and, most importantly, the health and safety of our citizenry,” Kemp wrote in a letter to the chairmen of the state House and Senate Appropriations committees. “Therefore, we must be ready to respond quickly and thoroughly to any outbreak of disease within our state.”

The money will come from the state’s budget reserves, which have been growing larger year by year since the fund was nearly depleted during the Great Recession. The fund had climbed to about $2.8 billion by the end of fiscal 2019.

A spokesman for House Speaker David Ralston released a statement Wednesday supporting the governor’s plan.

“Speaker Ralston is committed to ensuring adequate resources are available, and he is confident in the federal, state and local personnel who are working tirelessly to manage this situation,” Kaleb McMichen said.

Georgia’s bill for coping with coronavirus is mounting day by day as the number of confirmed cases of the virus continues to rise.

As of Tuesday night, according to the latest update from the governor’s office, the state Department of Public Health was awaiting testing confirmation from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on five additional presumptive positive cases of COVID-19. Three are in Cobb County, one in Fulton County and one in Charlton County.

That brought the total number of presumptive positive cases in Georgia to 16. Six cases have been confirmed, including three in Fulton County and one each in Cobb, Floyd and Polk counties.

Meanwhile, the state has opened seven emergency mobile units at Hard Labor Creek Park in Morgan County to isolate COVID-19 patients.

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