Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is distributing an initial allotment of the drug Remdesivir received from the federal government. Georgia received 30 cases, with 40 vials of the drug per case, enough to treat about 110 patients, depending on the duration of an individual’s treatment. Remdesivir is an antiviral medicine being used to treat hospitalized patients with serious symptoms caused by COVID-19 like low oxygen levels or pneumonia. It has been found to shorten the duration of disease in patients being treated in inpatient hospital settings.
Remdesivir is given intravenously (IV) and decreases the amount of coronavirus in the body, helping patients recover faster.
The distribution plan for Remdesivir in Georgia was developed by DPH leadership, including district health directors and emergency preparedness staff, in accordance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines for its use. It is based on the number of patients on ventilators, the most severely ill, and clinical best practices.
Georgia hospitals receiving Remdesivir reported 10 or more COVID-19 positive patients on ventilators, in addition to patients currently being treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a machine that takes over the work of the heart and lungs. These criteria are subject to change based on the availability of Remdesivir and
the development of patient care at hospital facilities across the state.
The following hospitals are receiving Remdesivir; Tift Regional Medical Center, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Grady Health System, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, and Augusta University Medical Center.
“DPH is pleased to have the opportunity to share this promising treatment with hospitals on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., DPH commissioner. “While this drug is not a cure for COVID-19, getting it into the hospitals and improving patient outcomes is moving in the right direction.”
Georgia has received a second, much larger allotment of Remdesivir. DPH is surveying hospitals statewide over the weekend to determine need. This second allotment will be distributed next week.
Gilead Sciences, Inc. committed to supplying approximately 607,000 vials of the experimental drug over the next six weeks to treat an estimated 78,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients under an emergency use agreement (EUA). The donation to the United States is part of 1.5 million vials of Remdesivir the company is donating worldwide.
Remdesivir has not been approved by the FDA for widespread use because it is considered investigational, and it is still being studied. Remdesivir was originally developed for use against Ebola. Clinical trials for Remdesivir were done in Georgia at Emory University Hospital.
For more information about COVID-19 visit https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
For updates on the COVID-19 situation as it develops, follow @GaDPH, @GeorgiaEMA, and @GovKemp on Twitter, and @GaDPH, @GEMA.OHS, and @GovKemp on Facebook
Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has reached its goal of testing 100,000 individuals in 10 days. More than 108,000 tests were processed since Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H, set the DPH goal last week.
“This is an important benchmark for Georgia as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the state,” said Toomey. “Increased testing is critical to understanding where there are hotspots of infection and how best to mitigate them.”
Effective immediately, testing is available to all Georgians who request it, whether they have symptoms or not. There are more than 65 specimen point of collection sites (SPOC) throughout the state, with an additional 30 mobile SPOCs – locations and hours vary daily.
Individuals wanting to be tested can contact any Georgia public health department to schedule an appointment at a SPOC location convenient to them. Contact information for local health departments can be found on the DPH homepage at
For more information about COVID-19 visit https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
For updates on the COVID-19 situation as it develops, follow @GaDPH, @GeorgiaEMA, and @GovKemp on Twitter, and @GaDPH, @GEMA.OHS, and @GovKemp on Facebook.
Revised Testing Criteria and Increased Number of Test Sites
Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is increasing the number of specimen
collection sites statewide for COVID-19 testing, and is revising the current testing criteria to
accommodate more testing of Georgia residents.
Effective immediately, all symptomatic individuals will be eligible for COVID-19 testing. Health
care workers, first responders, law enforcement and long-term care facility residents and staff will
still be prioritized for testing regardless of whether they are or are not symptomatic.
Referrals are still required, however, there are now two ways to be referred to a DPH specimen
Local Health Department –
Individuals who meet COVID-19 testing criteria may now be referred to DPH specimen collection
sites by contacting their local health department. They will be screened by appropriate health
department staff and referred to the closest, most convenient specimen collection site.
Contact information for local health departments can be found on the DPH homepage, under COVID-19 in Georgia.
Health Care Provider Referral –
Health care providers and/or physicians can and should continue to refer patients for COVID-19
People should not arrive unannounced or without a scheduled appointment at a specimen
collection site, hospital, emergency room or other health care facility. Only individuals who have
been evaluated by public health or a health care provider and assigned a PUI # number will
be referred to these drive-thru sites.
Together we can stop further spread of COVID-19 in our state and save lives.
Stay home – the Governor has issued a shelter-in-place Executive Order that should be observed
by all residents and visitors.
Practice social distancing – keep at least 6 feet between yourself and other people.
Wash your hands – use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based
hand sanitizer (60% alcohol) if soap and water aren’t readily available.
Wear a mask – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the use of face
masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19, especially where socials distancing is difficult to
maintain (grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.), and especially in areas of significant community-
For updates on the COVID-19 situation as it develops, follow @GaDPH, @GeorgiaEMA, and
@GovKemp on Twitter and @GaDPH, @GEMA.OHS, and @GovKemp on Facebook.
BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – As of April 1, Georgia had 4,748 cases and 20,328 completed COVID-19 tests, but Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has only tested symptomatic and high-risk patients. As a result, some cases have gone undiagnosed across Georgia.
Currently, DPH is following CDC guidelines, which still states online that not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. Most people who contract the virus will recover and can care for themselves at home. CDC gave healthcare workers four priority categories to help decide who receives tests.
Asymptomatic individuals were ranked last, and those exhibiting mild symptoms or subjected to potential community spread should only be tested if resources are available.
White County Public Safety Director David Murphy went on record about the issue.
“Some people take care of themselves at home and never go to a doctor, especially those who have minor symptoms,” he explained. Murphy added that White County first responders have encountered a dozen or more patients with coronavirus symptoms in the last two weeks.
DPH guidance for healthcare facilities when it comes to testing lower priority potential cases is as follows:
Patients with mild illness who do not require medical care or who are not a DIRECT contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case (meaning the person has NOT been within 6 feet of a confirmed case for greater than 10 minutes, will not meet criteria to be tested at GPHL but can be tested at commercial labs—see below:
These patients should self-isolate at home until symptoms resolve. If respiratory symptoms worsen, they may need to be re-evaluated. Guidance for safe home care can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-homecare.html.
If you want to test these patients for COVID-19, commercial laboratory testing is the best option. Commercial laboratories are expected to conduct a substantial number of COVID-19 tests going forward. Currently, the primary source of testing is LabCorp, but we expect other laboratories will be testing in the near future as well, including Quest and ARUP. Neither LabCorp nor Quest will collect specimens at their facilities. Providers should contact LabCorp or Quest regarding supplies needed for testing.
DPH Commissioner Kathleen Toomey addressed that asymptomatic individuals in Georgia aren’t being tested but could be transmitting the virus to numerous Georgians. The state and DPH now believe the time is now appropriate to take “very aggressive measures.”
“We have not been testing everybody. We have only been testing those who have symptoms and those who are the most ill. And now, we recognize a game-changer, in how our strategy to fight COVID has unfolded. We realize now that individuals may be spreading the virus and not even realize they have an infection. As many as 1 in 4 people with coronavirus don’t realize they have the infection because they have no symptoms whatsoever,” explained Toomey.
“Finding out that this virus is now transmitting before they see signs,” remarked Gov. Brian Kemp. “Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad.”
Kemp is expected to sign a shelter in place order on Thursday, April 2 to prevent people from ignoring self-quarantine recommendations. The details on the order are yet to be released.
Toomey further voiced that they knew asymptomatic community spread was possible due to the cruise ship cases. As of March 4, the CDC website also stated that asymptomatic spread is possible, but not as common as among individuals who are visibly sick.
Until the past 24-hours, all the DPH models relied on data solely from patients with symptoms.
“I think it’s a combination of recognizing not only that there are probably a large number of people out there who are infected who are asymptomatic, who never would have been recognized under our old models, but also seeing the community transmission that we’re seeing and now is the time to stop that transmission before the hospitals are overrun,” said Toomey.
How can Georgians prevent exposure/slow the spread?
Follow the CDC guidelines:
- Wash hands for at least 20 seconds – wash often
- Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces
- Avoid social contact and stay home
- Social distance if in public – stay six feet apart from each other
- Avoid touching the face – mouth, nose, eyes
- If sick, stay home
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw it away
- Wear a facemask if sick
By following these guidelines and Kemp’s shelter-in-place order, Georgian’s should be able to flatten the curve and hopefully protect themselves and loved ones.
ATLANTA, Ga – In a March 23 press conference, Gov. Kemp issued multiple executive orders and asked for the public’s help to ensure everyone is following CDC and Georgia Department of Health (DPH) guidelines during the country’s self-quarantine.
While Kemp is still hesitant to shut down all non-essential businesses or institute a statewide mandatory quarantine, he did issue an executive order to all medically fragile individuals to shelter in place. He listed off these individuals: the elderly, underlying conditions, cancer patients, or anyone suspected of having COVID-19.
In another executive order, Kemp closed all bars and nightclubs in the state and banned large gatherings (more than 10).
Kemp also said to fellow Georgians that if they see anyone not following the CDC of DPH guidelines, “call them out or report them to us.” He seemed prepared to take action against anyone not listening to his instructions or taking COVID-19 seriously.
“Fight this virus with everything you got,” stated Kemp toward the end of his press conference.
Georgians can also call the DPH COVID-19 hotline at (844) 442-2681. If they believe that they’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, please contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Do not show up at a clinic or emergency room unannounced.
Georgia now has 23 referral-only testing facilities in the state. Kemp released the location of the facilities in a tweet.
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) March 23, 2020
Update from March 15, 2020 below
Gov. Kemp, Georgia Department of Health (DPH), and Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) started construction of a quarantine zone in Monroe County on March 14, 2020. Additionally, the Georgia General Assembly ratified the executive order declaring a Public Health State of Emergency.
“This is one of many measures that we’re taking to prepare for any scenario,” said Gov. Kemp. “I appreciate the hard work of GEMA, DPH, and Monroe County officials to protect the health and safety of all Georgians.”
The quarantine space is for people who are unable to self-isolate and is located in the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) Campus in Monroe County. The quarantine space will be able to accommodate twenty temporary housing units. No patients are currently located at the facility.
Monroe County is working with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) and GPSTC officials to ensure the facility will meet the needs of potential patients while protecting the health and safety of Monroe County residents.
Public Health Emergency Ratification
Kemp can now officially enforce all laws, rules, and regulations associated with the emergency; assume control of all state civil forces and helpers; seize property temporarily for public’s protection; exercise other duties deemed necessary for safety; use all the resources available of the state government; direct evacuation; suspend of alcohol, explosives, and combustibles; and provide temporary housing if applicable.
Since this is a public health emergency, Kemp also has the ability to “implement a mandatory vaccination or quarantine” in accordance with O.C.G.A. Code 38-3-51(i)(2). The Georgia Department of Health (DPH) already has this capability to mandate quarantine and vaccinations.
Additionally, Kemp can direct DPH’s efforts to coordinate the department’s response to the crisis from risk assessments, mitigation, responses, and recovery throughout the state.
The General Assembly also granted Kemp the ability to extend the state of emergency if the elected representative body can’t convene in time.
On Saturday morning, Governor Brian Kemp officially declared Georgia’s first Public Health Emergency, freeing up resources and granting additional powers to Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA). The General Assembly will vote on the executive order on Monday.
A Public Health Emergency is enacted when an infectious disease/illness presents an imminent threat and can potentially result in a high number of deaths and/or exposure could harm large amounts of people.
So, what exactly does this executive order entail for Georgians? In short, it guarantees a continuous supply of medical goods and other emergency materials, as well as giving DPH and GEMA powers to “taken any action necessary to protect the public’s health” with the governor’s permission.
The department of public health is authorized to “actively monitor” persons under investigation (PUI), including a risk assessment within 24 hours of identification, and twice-daily temperature checks for 14 days or until a negative test result.
Here’s the entire executive order for those who want to review it.
These actions include “implementing quarantine, isolation, and other necessary public health interventions in accordance with O.C.G.A. Code 31-12-4 and Code 38-3-51(i)(2) or as other authorized by law.
O.C.G.A. Code 31-12-4 addresses isolation and segregation of diseased persons stating the DPH and county boards can isolate or quarantine individuals suspected of harboring infectious diseases, or until they test negative for the contagion. The department also must widely publicize the rules and regulations for the quarantine.
O.C.G.A. Code 38-3-51(i)(2) lists the due processes afforded to those in quarantine and seeks to leave before the department of public health gives the okay.
Additionally, the Georgia Emergency Operations Plan is activated. DPH and GEMA must coordinate with state, federal, and local government, recovery operations, mitigation, emergency response activities, CDC, and the release of the national stockpile of goods.
The public must also be informed about public health operations, including education and prevention measures.
Commercial vehicles have certain restrictions lifted, so they can operate more freely to move supplies throughout the state.
Georgia Board of Nurses and Georgia Composite Medical Board can grant temporary licenses to applicants that are in good standing with an equivalent board in another state.
All state and local healthcare facilities, physicians, clinics, and personnel must comply with the governor’s orders.
Price gouging on products on goods and services necessary in this public health emergency is prohibited.
The Georgia National Guard was called in on March 14 to assist in the crisis.
The executive order expires on April 13, 2020, unless Gov. Kemp renews it.