Monday evening, Governor Brian Kemp, Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner Kathleen Toomey, MD, and state officials confirmed Georgia’s first cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) involving two residents of Fulton County who live in the same household. One recently returned from Italy. Both have mild symptoms; they are isolated at home with other relatives to keep the illness from spreading.
DPH is working to identify any contacts who may have been exposed while the individuals were infectious. People who are identified as having been exposed will be contacted directly by a DPH epidemiologist and monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.
Earlier this evening, Governor Kemp spoke with Vice President Mike Pence about the two confirmed cases. The Governor’s Coronavirus Task Force was briefed via conference call at roughly 9:30 PM. At 10 PM, Governor Kemp held a press conference at the Georgia State Capitol with Dr. Toomey, State Epidemiologist Cherie Drenzek, Adjutant General Tom Carden, Georgia Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director Homer Bryson, and Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John King.
“Our team has been working around the clock to prepare for any scenario. Already, state health officials have established contact with these individuals to gather more information, monitor their condition, and determine any exposure,” said Governor Kemp. “They are confident that our efforts to prepare for this moment have enabled us to manage these cases appropriately and minimize any risks moving forward. We remain in constant communication with our partners at all levels of government, and we will continue to update members of the public as information becomes available.”
“We knew that Georgia would likely have confirmed cases of COVID-19, and we planned for it. The immediate risk of COVID-19 to the general public, however, remains low at this time,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, MD, MPH, DPH Commissioner. “I cannot emphasize enough the need for all Georgians to follow the simple precautions that DPH always urges to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.”
COVID-19 spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms appear within two to fourteen days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose, and difficulty breathing. Those considered at risk for contracting the virus are individuals with travel to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 or individuals in close contact with a person infected with COVID-19.
Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
The flu is still widespread and active throughout the state, so if you have not already gotten a flu shot, it is not too late. While the flu shot will not protect against COVID-19, it will prevent serious complications that require hospitalization and prevent overburdening the health care system in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
If you have recently traveled to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 and develop fever with cough and shortness of breath within fourteen days of your travel, or if you have had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, stay home and call your health care provider or local health department right away. Be sure to call before going to a doctor’s office, emergency room, or urgent care center and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.