Atlanta, GA – Today Governor Brian P. Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, and House Speaker David Ralston announced plans to extend Georgia’s public health state of emergency through May 13, 2020 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Under state law, the Governor may renew the public health state of emergency, which was otherwise set to expire on April 13, 2020.
Lt. Governor Duncan and Speaker Ralston said it is necessary for the public health emergency to be renewed and will not be requesting a special legislative session, which was tentatively scheduled for April 15, 2020.
“To ensure the health and well-being of Georgians, I will extend the public health state of emergency through May 13, 2020. This measure will allow us to continue to deploy resources to communities in need, lend support to frontline medical providers, and keep preparing as we brace for potential patient surge in our healthcare facilities. We deeply appreciate the hard work of Georgians who are sheltering in place, using social distancing, and helping us flatten the curve. We are in this fight together,” said Governor Kemp.
“I appreciate Lt. Governor Duncan and Speaker Ralston continuing to work with us to ensure resources are available to proactively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I thank them for their support of an extended emergency declaration. In these unprecedented times, we ask Georgians for their continued patience and prayers, especially for first responders, law enforcement, and the healthcare workers caring for the medically fragile. They are going above and beyond to keep us all safe, and we will never be able to repay them for their sacrifices.”
The extension of the public health emergency by Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan – the state Senate’s presiding officer – and Georgia House Speaker David Ralston came as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the resulting deaths continued to mount.
As of Tuesday night, 9,156 Georgians had tested positive for coronavirus and 348 had died from the virus.
“We must continue our aggressive fight against COVID-19," Duncan said. “By extending the public health state of emergency, we can ensure Georgians have access to every available state resource during this crisis.”
"The entirety of our state government is working to protect the health and safety of our citizens,” added Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. “While we have difficult days ahead, we continue to coordinate with both local and federal partners in responding to needs as they arise. As Georgians, we will persevere and emerge stronger on the other side.”
Kemp is extending the public health emergency declaration without having to call the legislature back for another special session.
After hours of behind-the-scenes negotiations during the one-day special session last month, the General Assembly passed a resolution authorizing the governor to extend the declaration unilaterally if lawmakers were unable to return to the Capitol this month because of the limit on large gatherings necessitated by the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the state remains under a separate statewide shelter-in-place order that took effect last Friday. That order is due to expire at 11:59 p.m. April 13 unless Kemp acts to extend it.
Kemp, Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey, state Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Director Homer Bryson, and Georgia National Guard Adjutant General Tom Carden are scheduled to deliver an update on the state’s COVID-19 response efforts Wednesday afternoon.
“We must continue our aggressive fight against COVID-19,” said Lt. Governor Duncan. "By extending the public health state of emergency, we can ensure Georgians have access to every available state resource during this crisis. Together, Speaker Ralston and I are working closely with Governor Kemp to do all we can to make sure we are meeting the needs of every Georgian. The General Assembly will continue to remain vigilant and available to assist our citizens in any way possible."
"The entirety of our state government is working to protect the health and safety of our citizens, and I appreciate the work of our state personnel and first responders during this challenging time,” said Speaker David Ralston. “While we have difficult days ahead, we continue to coordinate with both local and federal partners in responding to needs as they arise. As Georgians, we will persevere and emerge stronger on the other side.”