Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday said he is preparing a statewide shelter-in-place order across Georgia to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus, a turnabout after weeks of balking at taking more drastic steps to combat the pandemic. He said he only learned yesterday that the virus could be spread by people showing no symptioms.
The Republican faced mounting pressure from public health officials, local leaders and prominent politicians who warned that a failure to take more sweeping action would further strain Georgia’s health care system and lead to more deaths. “I want to encourage my fellow Georgians to hang in there. I know you’re tired of this,” he said at a windy press conference outside the state Capitol. “But we must first overcome the obstacles in our path.” Kemp had balked at more stringent restrictions to combat COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in part because he was worried more severe bans would cripple the economy in parts of the state where there are few known cases of the illness. But he reversed course Wednesday as a growing number of other Republican governors, including the leaders of Florida, South Carolina and Texas, instituted broader limits on mobility and shuttered more businesses to try to counter the disease.
He said his decision was triggered by “game-changing” new projections on the disease’s spread in Georgia. He also said he was informed of new data that this virus “is now transmitting before people see signs.” “Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt” symptoms, he said. “We didn’t know that until the last 24 hours.”