Patrick Henry addressed the Virginia Convention in Richmond on March 23, 1775, stating, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
On March 23, 1861, the Georgia Secession Convention adopted a new state Constitution to be submitted to a referendum of the voters on the first Tuesday in July and then adjourned.
On March 23, 1972, in the case of Gooding v. Wilson, the United States Supreme Court held that a Georgia statute, OCGA § 26-6303, which provided: “Any person who shall, without provocation, use to or of another, and in his presence . . . opprobrious words or abusive language, tending to cause a breach of the peace . . . shall be guilty of a misdemeanor,” was unconstitutionally vague and violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
On March 23, 1983, President Ronald Reagan called for the development of an anti-missile system that would come to be known as the Strategic Defense Initiative.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Governor Brian Kemp announced four committees to address the COVID-19 outbreak. From the press release:
Governor Brian P. Kemp announced the members of the Governor’s four Coronavirus Task Force Committees: the Economic Impact Committee, Primary Care Provider Committee, Emergency Preparedness Committee, and Committee for the Homeless and Displaced.
“In February, we formed the Coronavirus Task Force with a focus on preparing for COVID-19 and its effects,” said Governor Kemp. “Now, as we mitigate the spread of the virus, these committees will address the specific impacts that COVID-19 will have on communities, industry sectors, our healthcare system, and emergency preparedness. I have full confidence in these committees to serve the needs of all Georgians during this challenging time. In the weeks ahead, we will continue to ensure that our state stands ready for any scenario.”
The full list of each committee can be found below:
Economic Impact Committee
Jeffrey Dorfman, State Fiscal Economist
Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black
Allan Adams, University of Georgia Small Business Development Center
Nick Ayers, AFH Capital
Will Bentley, Georgia Agribusiness Council
Donna Bowman, Office of the State Treasurer
Richard McPhail, Home Depot
Peter Carter, Delta Air Lines
Thomas Cunningham, Metro Atlanta Chamber
Walter Kemmsies, Georgia Ports Authority
Steve McCoy, Office of the State Treasurer
Alfie Meek, Georgia Tech Center for Economic Development Research
Jessica Simmons, Georgia Department of Revenue
Jim Sprouse, Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association
Joe Rogers III, Waffle House
Bill Douglas, Synovus
Will Wade, Georgia Student Finance Commission
State Senator Frank Ginn
State Representative Clay Pirkle
Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler
Primary Care Provider Committee
State Senator Ben Watson, MD – Chair
State Representative Mark Newton, MD
State Senator Kay Kirkpatrick, MD
Andrew Reisman, MD – Family Medicine
G. Waldon Garriss, MD – Internal Medicine
Jacqueline Fincher, MD – Internal Medicine
Al Scott, MD – Obstetrics and Gynecology
Terri McFadden, MD – Pediatrics
Johnny Sy, DO – Emergency Medicine
Jeff Stone, MD – Family Medicine
Jennifer Pipkin, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
Anna Adams, Vice President of Government Relations, Georgia Hospital Association
Emergency Preparedness Committee
General John King, Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner – Chair
Tom Price, MD, former Secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services
Kathy Kuzava, Georgia Food Industry Association
Thomas Beusse, Georgia Retailers Association
Anna Adams, Georgia Hospital Association
Adjutant General Thomas Carden, Georgia National Guard
Kelly Farr, Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget
Homer Bryson, Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency
Colonel Gary Vowell, Georgia Department of Public Safety
John Haupert, Grady Health
Angela Holland, Georgia Association of Convenience Stores
Ed Crowell, Georgia Motor Trucks Association
Jannine Miller, Governor’s Logistics Advisor
Committee for the Homeless and Displaced
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms – Chair
Chris Rustin, DrPH, MS, REHS, Georgia Department of Public Health
Christopher Nunn, Georgia Department of Community Affairs
Monica Johnson, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities
John Haupert, Grady Health
State Representative Sharon Cooper
Dr. Elizabeth Ford, Fulton and DeKalb Boards of Health
Nick Buford, Governor’s Office
Milton Little, United Way of Greater Atlanta
Tom Andrews, Mercy Care
Jack Hardin, Regional Commission on Homelessness
Sapna Bamrah-Morris, MD, U.S. Public Health Service
Dave Whisnant, Georgia Law Center for the Homeless
Cathryn Marchman, Partners for HOME
Melvia Richards, DeKalb County
Dawn Butler, Fulton County Homeless Continuum of Care
Cindy Kelley, Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless
Christie Clarington, Macon Bibb Economic Opportunity Council
Pat Frey, United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley
State Representative Spencer Frye
State Senator Gloria Butler
Governor Kemp also announced two Executive Orders:
Governor Brian P. Kemp issued Executive Order 03.20.20.01 and Executive Order 03.20.20.02 authorizing a transfer of $19,552,646 from the Governor’s Emergency Fund and reducing regulations to assist in the state’s response to COVID-19. The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency and Georgia Department of Public Health have purchased $19,552,646 in medical supplies and equipment.
Gov. Kemp issued a joint statement with other elected officials from the Albany area, which has been hit hard.
Governor Brian P. Kemp, Congressman Sanford Bishop, State Senator Freddie Powell Sims (D – Dawson), State Representative Gerald Greene (R – Cuthbert), State Representative CaMia Hopson (D – Albany), State Representative Winfred Dukes (D – Albany), Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas, and Albany Mayor Bo Dorough issued the following joint statement on best practices for COVID-19 prevention:
“As we continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, it is essential for Georgians to continue to observe the best practices prescribed by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds, practice social distancing, and stay home, especially if you are not feeling well.”
“According to federal guidance, social distancing means postponing group congregations and large social gatherings like sporting events, church services, funeral services, and other social functions. If possible, avoid gatherings with more than ten people for the next eight weeks. Choosing to stay home and following this advice can significantly limit the spread of the virus and help us as we try to flatten the curve.”
“If you are experiencing any symptoms, please stay home and contact your medical provider. If you continue to go to work, school, or other gatherings – even if you are not experiencing symptoms – you may be putting others at risk. Elderly citizens and those with chronic, underlying health conditions face a serious threat to their health, and we must do everything in our power to reduce risk and limit the spread of the virus.”
“If you need further guidance, your local, state, and federal officials are here to serve you. Contact your local public health office or consult official sources like the CDC or DPH for help with decision-making.”
“In the days and weeks ahead, we each have a responsibility to each other to implement social distancing, use best practices, be mindful of potential exposure, and pray for our fellow Georgians. We are in this fight together.”
Four members of the Georgia State Senate have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus, according to the AJC.
State Sen. Nikema Williams said she tested positive Sunday but had suspected she had the disease since suffering from a fever for two days. And state Sen. Bruce Thompson said Sunday his test, too, came back positive.
State Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, an orthopedic surgeon and member of Gov. Brian Kemp’s coronavirus task force, said she had been in self-quarantine since she felt sick a week ago.
And state Sen. Brandon Beach revealed Wednesday he had tested positive for the disease and had attended a special session vote at the Georgia Capitol this week while awaiting the results of the test.
Chatham County Probate Court has issues new procedures for marriage licenses, according to the Savannah Morning News.
“We are in a period of both judicial and health emergencies which require additional time and safeguards in order for the Probate Court of Chatham County to issue marriage licenses,” Judge Tom Bordeaux said in a public notice.
Those changes include:
1. Marriage licenses will be issued only by appointment.
2. A couple must submit copies of all necessary documentation, including a properly completed license application, before the court will make an appointment. This process will likely take more than one day….
“We regret the upheaval in these processes and we will do our best to deliver to the public the best service possible under these difficult and, frankly, dangerous times,” Bordeaux said.
A limited access COVID-19 testing program is underway in Bulloch County, according to the Statesboro Herald.
Collection of specimen samples to be sent to labs for COVID-19 testing began Thursday afternoon in Bulloch County. No test results had been returned as of Friday.
It is not a walk-in clinic. Only residents who have been referred by a medical facility or have been assigned an identification number by the Southeast Health District may be swabbed nasally for the specimen collection, and people who arrive at the site are asked to remain in their vehicles until summoned for their turn.
Aside from coming from a doctor or health care provider, a referral may be obtained by calling the COVID-19 hotline at (844) 442-2681.
The center is “not open for public visitation,” said Southeast Health District Director Cindy Hart. “The centers will be for collection only, and no results will be given immediately, as they will be determined through an external lab system.”
The Marietta City School System is buying more 700 wireless hot spots to help students access online lessons, according to the AJC.
The school board on Friday voted to purchase 700 WiFi hot spots so its students can access the internet while at home.
The hot spots, which cost the school system $159,570, will be loaned to families so students can access Schoology, Marietta’s learning management system while schools are closed during the virus outbreak.
“Our moral and academic responsibility is to be responsive to any child who does not have access to a device or internet,” said Superintendent Dr. Grant Rivera. “We cannot conveniently overlook that students without access to Schoology will fall further behind as the school closure continues.”
Gun sales appear to be surging in some parts of Georgia, according to the Macon Telegraph.
[G]un shop owners in Middle Georgia say business has surged so much that it reminds them of the holiday season.
“Our days have looked like the week of Christmas,” said Howard Reed, of Howard’s Pawn & Jewelry, which sells an array of firearms.
Not only are guns selling, but ammunition is in even higher demand, especially for handguns and rifles.
“As my boss said, ‘They’re buying toilet paper and ammo,’” said Jay Whitehurst, a salesman at Chuck’s Bait, Tackle, Gun, Pawn & Jewelry on Watson Boulevard. “The public’s scared right now. … They’re frantic.”
Gun sales “are going through the roof,” Franklin Gun Shop owner Mark Franklin of Athens said last week. “In the last six days, we’ve done four times the business that is normal this time of the year.”
“You’re dealing with a situation where the supply chain is through a loop. The warehouses where we get our products can’t work fast enough,” he said.
Throughout the United States, the pattern of sales is apparently the same. Guns and ammunition are flying off the shelves as people are apparently responding to the unknown that pervades the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s crazy,” said Kerry Stephens, owner of Country Boy Sports in Homer. “Our sales have doubled.”
“It’s been Black Friday all week,” said Kelsey Farrow at Gun Commander in Cleveland.
“The AR-15s and shotguns are flying off the shelves,” Farrow said, adding that some gun owners are saying they want more ammunition in the event they need to hunt for food.
Some Augusta businesses were unclear whether an order by Mayor Hardie Davis required their closure, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
Some Athens-area organic farmers are delivering fresh produce, according to the Athens Banner Herald.
Fort Benning is restricting access to base, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.