MACON, Ga. — Governor Brian Kemp declared a public health emergency for Georgia Saturday morning amid the coronavirus pandemic.
This comes after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday afternoon.
According to a new update from the Georgia Department of Health, there are now a total of 66 cases of COVID-19 in the state, which is the largest increase in a 24-hour period to date.
Kemp said cases in Cobb, DeKalb, and Bartow Counties doubled overnight. At this time, there are no confirmed cases in Central Georgia.
"We have to remain vigilant, especially for our most vulnerable populations," Kemp said in the presser.
He also said they've increased capacity at the state lab to allow for more testing for COVID-19.
Right now, Kemp said they're processing about 100 samples a day, and by the end of the week he hopes to double that number to 200 per day with the addition of new equipment and staffing.
Kemp also said they're working on establishing independent testing sites across the state, and they expect to announce locations early next week.
"I have worked with the General Assembly to appropriate $100 million in emergency funding to address the spread of coronavirus in Georgia," Kemp said.
Kemp's public health emergency declaration "will allow the Department of Public Health to direct specific healthcare action in extraordinary circumstances."
This means allowing the Georgia Composite Medical Board and the Georgia Board of Nursing to grant temporary licenses to applicants who are in good standing in other states to help with healthcare needs, according to Kemp.
"This public health emergency is unprecedented for the State of Georgia, and I do not take this action lightly," he said.
Kemp reiterated that social distancing will help with stopping the spread of the virus, and that we must work together to limit the risk to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
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