Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 26, 2020

26
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 26, 2020

On March 26, 1734, the British House of Commons voted for spending £10,000 to subsidize the Georgia colony, down from £26,000 the previous year.

On March 26, 1920, This Side of Paradise, the debut novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald was published. The author was 23 years old.

On March 26, 1982, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in Washington, DC for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; the design approved a couple weeks earlier was by 21-year old Yale architecture student Maya Lin.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp will host a Town Hall on television tonight. From the AJC:

The governor will headline the 8 p.m. special on Thursday that will air live on WSB-TV Channel 2, CBS46, Georgia Public Broadcasting, 11 Alive, FOX 5 Atlanta and Univision 34 Atlanta.

Governor Brian Kemp discussed the Covid 19 outbreak with 11Alive.

As for the influx of patients at local hospitals, Kemp said he and his task force are aware and are working to find solutions quickly.

“We are looking at facilities right now for potential surges for hospitals so we can have hospital beds stood up,” Kemp said. “We’re looking at self-quarantined sites as well to support the overflow of folks that test positive that are asymptomatic or, you know, trying to wait and see where they are if they’ve been exposed to someone.”

In the long run, Kemp said he’s been glad to see most of the population adapt and stop common practices like hugging and shaking hands.

“And I want to urge all our citizens to do that. I made a call for people to call out your friends and neighbors if they’re not abiding by the social gathering rules and they’re congregating in large groups,” Kemp said.

“Or if restaurants are not doing as we asked to have and practice social distancing, then people need to go to another establishment and support that is. Or call your neighbors out and say you’ve got to do your part, too.”

Governor Kemp also spoke to WSAV-TV.

Just 80 miles below Columbus, the people of Albany are dealing with a full-blown health crisis caused by the coronavirus.

There are 12 people dead, 173 confirmed cases, 35 people hospitalized and 900 people awaiting test results — and 90 of those are in the hospital.

Those numbers came Wednesday afternoon in a news release from the Phoebe Healthcare system.

There are another 25 confirmed cases in Lee County, just north of Albany.

“Look, we got a breakout down there,” Kemp said. “No doubt about it. But there’s a reason for it. We had an infected person do the wrong thing and go to a funeral service.”

Everything stemmed from that, Kemp said.

“One person went to a funeral — I don’t know if they knew they were infected or didn’t,” Kemp said. “They infected everybody else. And then people went to another funeral, a fish fry, and some big case that was happening at the courthouse. Then, all of a sudden you have community spread and an outbreak. That’s what we don’t want to happen in Columbus.”

Gov. Kemp is still considering how long to keep schools closed, according to WSB-TV.

Kemp told Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot on Tuesday that he was meeting with state School Superintendent Richard Woods, along with superintendents with local school districts, to formulate a plan to move forward while protecting children, their families and school educators from the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re in communication with them to try and pick the best path forward that will be good and the least disruptive for everybody,” Kemp said.

“The Department of Education has been hard at work every day just to keep things going as much as we can, but we are kind of anticipating to see where we’re going to be past the March 31 deadline and see what school will look like for us for the foreseeable future,” Wood said. “We’re being very flexible as we can see. I’m being hopeful, but we have to look at keeping our kids and faculty and community safe. That’s the first priority.”

Atlanta’s hospitals are strained by the current outbreak, according to CBS News.

At Atlanta’s Grady Hospital, all 100 beds in the intensive care unit were full. Then COVID-19 hit. Viral patients are now quarantined wherever the hospital finds space.

“The stress is not just capacity,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Jansen told CBS News. “It’s not just stress of supplies, but on the individuals taking care of the patients. Because so much is not known.”

At all of Atlanta’s four major hospitals, every ICU bed is taken.

Patients with garden-variety coughs and headaches go from the E.R. to Grady Hospital’s mobile emergency room for more treatment — kept away from the COVID-19 patients that have overwhelmed Atlanta’s level one trauma center.

From The Hill:

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) said Tuesday that the city’s intensive care units (ICUs) are at capacity and warned that hospitals in the area could soon be maximized amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“I suspect that at some point soon our hospitals may get near capacity,” Bottoms told a local CBS affiliate.

“While there are still beds available … our ICU units are at capacity. This is why we have gone a step further in Atlanta and asked people to please stay home,” she added.

“We’re already down several beds at Grady Hospital, and people have to understand that when we overrun our hospitals, people will still come in with heart attacks, people will still have car accidents.”

Here’s the story The Hill cited from CBS 46:

In Albany, Phoebe Putney Health System is addressing an outbreak, according to the AJC.

[I]ntensive care units are full in hard-hit communities such as Cobb County and Albany, officials said Wednesday. The situation is so dire in Albany that Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital is scrambling to add as many as 60 critical-care beds in a satellite facility.

Twelve people have died at Phoebe Putney from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The southwest Georgia hospital has admitted at least three dozen other patients who have tested positive.

Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Georgia’s public health commissioner, emphasized the gravity of the looming hospital crisis while speaking Wednesday to about 500 pastors on a conference call with Gov. Brian Kemp.

“We have concerns that the virus will spread at a very rapid rate and it will overwhelm hospitals,” Toomey told the pastors.

Almost two-thirds of Georgia’s 159 counties have reported positive diagnoses, the state Department of Public Health said. Georgia’s first two cases of the coronavirus were confirmed just three weeks ago.

At Phoebe Putney, coronavirus patients occupy all 38 intensive care beds. The hospital’s chief executive, Scott Steiner, said he has asked other hospitals in the region to accept newly sickened patients while Phoebe Putney works to set up more critical care beds in a branch facility a mile and a half away.

“Setting up a hospital doesn’t happen quickly,” Steiner said. “There’s no beds. There’s no pumps. There’s no personal protective equipment. So what we’re doing is we’re trying to hold the dam.”

In Cobb County, officials are trying to contain the virus’ spread to avoid overburdening the county’s two hospitals. If the facilities exceed their capacity, “we cannot take care of all the people who become ill,” Dr. Janet Memarck, director of Cobb and Douglas Public Health, told the Cobb County Commission.

The hospitals in Cobb have fewer than 50 ventilators on hand and no open intensive care beds, Memarck said.

Savannah occupancy rates are at historic lows, according to the Savannah Morning News.

According to data released this week by the Tourism Leadership Council, projected market occupancy for Friday, Saturday and Sunday (March 27-29) is expected to average 6.25%.

For the entire month of March 2019, Savannah area hotels averaged an occupancy rate of 81.3%, according to Visit Savannah.

“We’ve never seen anything close to this,” said Michael Owens, president and CEO of the Tourism Leadership Council.

According to an analysis released this week by the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics, the expected loss of $910 billion in travel-related economic output in 2020 would be seven times greater than the impact felt following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Georgia State Senator Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) is the fifth known case of Covid 19 among state legislators, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah-area State Sen. Lester Jackson has tested positive for the coronavirus, Jackson said Wednesday, March 25.

Jackson was notified of the test results early Wednesday, five days after submitting to the test along with his wife, Lorna. Her test results were negative.

Jackson is the fifth Georgia senator to test positive for the coronavirus. The others are [Sen. Brandon] Beach, Sens. Nikema Williams, Kay Kirkpatrick and Bruce Thompson.

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