Lawmakers urge Kemp to order Georgians to shelter in place

Georgia House Democrats on Wednesday increased pressure on Gov. Brian Kemp to implement a shelter-in-place order in the state.

Members of the House Democratic Caucus sent a letter to Kemp urging him to institute the order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“In this moment, each of us must do everything in our power to save the lives of our fellow Georgians,” Democrats wrote. “You are the only person in our state with the power to issue a comprehensive shelter-in-place order.”


Wednesday’s letter is the second from the group of Democrats as the push for a shut-in order continues to mount. Medical officials and local government leaders in the past few days have not shied away from criticizing Kemp’s failure to green-light the order.

The Georgia Municipal Association released a statement Tuesday advising all 538 cities to declare a public health crisis. Several cities have followed the directive.

Mayors from Savannah, Brookhaven, Tifton, Rome, Sandy Spring and Floyd County have implemented shelter-in-place orders.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a shelter-in-place order Monday night that she had earlier held off on per Kemp’s request. Earlier that day, Kemp stopped short of issuing a stay-at-home directive, ordering only high-risk Georgians to quarantine for 14 days instead.

Albany and Dougherty County ordered its residents to shelter in place after six people died from COVID-19 in three days.

The Georgia Department of Public Health on Wednesday afternoon reported 1,247 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, including 40 deaths.

Five of the confirmed cases include state Sens. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta; Lester Jackson, D-Savannah; Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta; Bruce Thompson, R-White; and Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta.

State Rep. Angelika Kausche, D-Johns Creek, also said Tuesday her husband is among the positive cases.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. The disease has caused at least 910 deaths in the U.S., with more than 64,000 confirmed cases in the country. COVID-19 symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing.

Most people who have it develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually the elderly and those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal. 

 Lawmakers gave Kemp public health emergency powers March 16, which gives him the ability to bypass legislation delays while trying to contain the respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus.

House Democrats on Wednesday said a statewide shelter-in-place order is the “most effective measure to slow the spread” of COVID-19.

“A confusing patchwork of local policies and recommendations will only prolong the epidemic and lead to more infections, more economic harm, and more deaths,” Democrats wrote.

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