Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 13, 2020

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 13, 2020

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 in what is now Albemarle County, Virginia. Jefferson served as Governor of Virginia, United States Secretary of State, delegate to the Second Continental Congress, and Third President of the United States. Jefferson is credited with writing the first draft of the Declaration of Independence.

On April 13, 1861, Union forces surrendered Fort Sumter after 33 hours of bombardment by Confederates.

As we pass the anniversary of FDR’s death on April 12, 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia, the Savannah Morning News looks at a 1933 trip.

The New Deal arrived in Savannah, in person, on Nov. 18, 1933. President Franklin D. Roosevelt stayed in the city for only 90 minutes or so that morning, but nonetheless managed to make an indelible mark on its historical record.

He’d left Washington, D.C., by train the night before, accompanied by his mother, several assistants and friends, and a cadre of national reporters and photographers. FDR had been president for only a few months, but he was no stranger to Georgia. Between 1924 and 1945, he visited the state 41 times.

This stopover was important. Roosevelt planned to deliver a major speech at Municipal Stadium (now Grayson Stadium) in Daffin Park. The topics: His role as the honorary chairman of the Georgia Bicentennial Commission, and his decision two days earlier to establish normal diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.

FDR’s Savannah appearance, Talmadge had said in October, would be the “crowning event” of the state’s 200th birthday celebration. The stadium crowd reflected that. An estimated 35.000 to 40,000 witnessed the speech in person, and many others gathered in the park extension and listened to it over radio amplifiers.

History buffs may wish to read the entire article.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp will hold a briefing on the current state of the Covid 19 outbreak at 4 PM today, according to a press release.

At the Georgia State Capitol, Governor Kemp, Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Director Homer Bryson, and Georgia National Guard Adjutant General Tom Carden will give a briefing on COVID-19.

WHO: Governor Brian P. Kemp; Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Commissioner, Georgia Department of Public Health; Homer Bryson, Director, Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency; Adjutant General Tom Carden, Georgia National Guard

WHEN: Monday, April 13 at 4:00 PM

WHERE: Liberty Plaza

The briefing will be live streamed at facebook.com/GovKemp or gpb.org/coronavirus.

Governor Kemp also announced that 200 beds will be set up for Covid patients at the Georgia World Congress Center, according to a press release.

The State of Georgia has executed a contract with PAE to build a 200-hospital bed alternate care facility at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC).

“Across Georgia, we have partnered with existing healthcare infrastructure to greatly expand our surge capacity, and now we have a dedicated team building out a temporary facility at the Georgia World Congress Center for potential COVID-19 patient surge,” said Governor Kemp. “We are working around the clock to prepare for future needs and ensure the health and well-being of our state. I am truly honored to have Georgia’s best, brightest, and most dedicated public servants working on this critically important project.”

Starting immediately, the Georgia National Guard, Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, Department of Community Health, Department of Public Health, and contractors will begin to prepare GWCC for potential COVID-19 patient surge for mild to moderate (non-ICU) illness levels excluding ventilator support.

The team will utilize contract medical staffing to prepare for surge leading up to the state’s projected peak date, currently set for April 26, 2020 according to IHME. This project at GWCC will leverage existing support through nearby Grady Memorial Hospital with initial operating capacity available in one week. Over the next few days, Governor Kemp will provide more details as construction gets underway.

Gov.Kemp on Saturday issued an Executive Order (04.11.20.01) setting a Special Election for Georgia Senate District 4 (comprising Bulloch, Candler, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans and Tattnall counties) for Tuesday, June 9, 2020.

A writer from the UGA News Service discusses why store shelves are still bare, in the Gwinnett Daily Post.

There is no immediate shortage of food in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), however the current demand for items such as grocery-size products and on-demand delivery is greater than what is in abundant supply: bulk, large-sized products and processed shipments to restaurants that remain open.

This demand-supply mismatch appears to mimic anecdotal evidence of price spikes and empty store shelves on the consumer side and the collapse of demand and dumping of food on the farm side, with a range of linked effects in the middle.

With the drastic fall in food demand away from home, multiple forces were unleashed rapidly, causing ripples that stretched farther into every food and agricultural commodity.

First, the supply chain serving food service industries did not have many buyers. A case in point is cheese, where the major supplier, Wisconsin, found two-thirds of its demand fall to near zero within a week or two.

Second, social distancing guidelines and shuttered non-essential businesses affected supply chains serving both food services and retail grocers.

The results include a significant slowdown in the operations of processing and distribution, shortage of workers at farm, processing and distribution (trucking) facilities, and a shortage of cleaning and sanitizing supplies. Compounding these effects are the resources spent in contact tracing and quarantine if/when a worker tested positive for COVID-19.

Third is the urgent need to transition products run through food services into those that consumers need at the grocery store. For example, restaurants usually bought diced vegetables, like onions, in 60-pound bags, but consumers at grocery stores usually buy 3- to 5-pound bags of unpeeled onions. Also, large cheese blocks sold to food services, which generally have sizable storage space, cannot be chopped overnight into packs of ounces and pounds to sell at grocery stores.

It’s an interesting story worth reading in its entirety.

The University of North Georgia Gainesville campus is producing masks for healthcare workers, according to the Gainesville Times.

Ted Forringer, UNG Gainesville’s assistant department head in physics, has partnered with Jon Mehlferber, professor of visual arts at UNG’s Dahlonega campus, and Enes Aganovic, assistant director of technology integration at the Dahlonega campus, to 3D print N95 masks to be donated to Northeast Georgia Health System.

The masks are made of a plastic filament compatible with the printers, and in the first week of production, the UNG Gainesville campus used up nearly its entire stock. Forringer said the physics department will be purchasing $1,000 worth of filament to continue production of the masks.

Forringer was brought on board earlier this week when he received an email on Monday from Robert Turner, executive director of strategy and business development for NGHS, asking if UNG’s Gainesville campus had any available 3D printers.

“I had just had a conversation with the dean that we had to close our 3D printing lab for the rest of the semester, because we didn’t want people on campus unless they were absolutely critical,” Forringer said. “Immediately, I thought I don’t know if we can help. But, very quickly, I said but if we can, I really want to. So let me find out.”

The Gainesville team can produce around 30 masks a day.

New unemployment claims have already surpassed the 2019 total, according to the Gainesville Times.

The number of Georgia workers seeking jobless benefits last week surged to more than 390,000, eclipsing the total number of unemployment claims the state saw in all of 2019, as efforts to contain the coronavirus batter the economy.

Figures released Thursday by the Georgia Department of Labor showed unemployment claims processed by the agency had nearly tripled compared to the previous week, when the pandemic had already driven claims to new record highs.

“We basically did almost four times as many claims in one week than we did in the worst month of the recession” of 2008, Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said.

Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-West Bumble) has endorsed his colleague, Congressman Doug Collins, for United States Senate, according to the AJC.

Ferguson’s support makes him the first Georgia GOP congressman to publicly pick sides in a race that’s divided state Republicans even as U.S. Sen. David Perdue, also on the November ballot, avoided a primary opponent.

A former West Point mayor, Ferguson fast moved up the U.S. House ranks since his 2016 election and is now the chamber’s chief deputy whip. He’s also long been an ally of Collins, whom he called Trump’s “No. 1 defender.”

Horrible, stupid electric scooters have disappeared from Atlanta’s streets, according to the AJC.

Scooter companies were told to remove their devices from city sidewalks after Atlanta’s mayor issued the shelter-in-place order last month. Scooter companies were not deemed one of the “essential businesses” allowed to continue operating, like grocery stores, food delivery, hardware, and construction businesses.

Now, the four scooter companies licensed to do business in the city — Bird, Uber Jump, Boaz, and Wheels — have shut down services in Atlanta and in other major U.S. cities due to the virus outbreak.

The city’s scooter laws and fines had already rushed out some companies operating in the city. In March, the city updated its scooter ordinance and established a new procurement process to select no more than five scooter companies to operate in the city.

Domestic violence agencies are expecting higher numbers of reports due to quarantine measures, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

“We are really concerned right now about victims of domestic violence because we know they are quarantined and shelter-in-place,” said Aimee Hall, Executive Director at SafeHomes Augusta.

SafeHomes provides victims of domestic violence resources and services to meet their needs. Hall said they have seen a decrease in the number of people they have sheltered and the number of calls they have been receiving, but for her, the numbers can be deceiving.

Hall said they are planning for an influx in calls once the restrictions are lifted and normal life returns. The current restrictions, like shelter-in-place, could be impacting the numbers, since a victim might not have the freedom to call and are spending more time at home with their abuser.

“A lot of businesses have closed, so the abuser is not going to work,” Hall said. “Abuse is about power and control. I believe it can be intensified by the stressors. You’ve got people who are now being furlough[ed], laid off, so that brings a financial stress to the relationship.”

Paul P. Hinchey, CEO of St.Joseph’s/Candler in Savannah discussed the financial impact on hospitals of the Covid outbreak, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“Things like surgery and imaging, the things that help generate income for the hospital, have appropriately declined significantly because those are all the outpatient areas and the places where people are concerned and if they don’t have to go to the hospital, they shouldn’t go to the hospital,” Hinchey said in a telephone interview April 3. “So that outpatient area is dramatically reduced. I would say March figures are probably in that 20% (reduction) range.”

It doesn’t look to be getting better any time soon.

“April I would imagine would be more than that,” Hinchey said. “You know, we’re looking at 20% to 40% (overall revenue reductions).

While revenues decreased, expenses did not decline with them. In fact it was the opposite at St. Joseph’s/Candler, Hinchey said.

Consider personal protective equipment. The gear includes the gloves, masks and gowns that healthcare workers need to stay safe as they work with infectious patients. It’s scarce and expensive.

“We’ve had to go out and spend a great deal of money getting this equipment whenever and wherever you could get it, because that was our first priority — to protect the nurses and the doctors who are on the floor,” Hinchey said.

The health system typically spends $700,000 on PPE over the course of a year, but it’s recently spent $2 million all at once to prepare for a possible COVID-19 surge, Hinchey said.

“Hopefully, we won’t have to use it,” Hinchey said. “But we want to be prepared if we will.”

Hospitals typically maintain a rainy day fund, Hinchey said. St. Joseph’s/Candler keeps four to five months cash on hand, a requirement of the bonds it has issued.

“Hospitals have reserves exactly for this type of situation, not a pandemic, really, but in our area it would be hurricanes,” he said. “For instance, when Dorian hit. That month, which was I think September, that was about a $4.6 million loss.

“We had a hurricane (evacuation) in September and then we have a pandemic.”

St. Joseph’s Candler already received $64 million of an advanced payment plan for Medicaid and Medicare offered in the CARES Act, though the details of that plan are still being negotiated nationally, Hinchey said.

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