State Lawmakers Discuss COVID-19 Response

Mar 19, 2020

The number of coronavirus cases in Georgia has jumped to 287, up from 197 the day before. That number from the Georgia Department of Public Health also includes 10 deaths in the state, up one in 24 hours. With state Senator Brandon Beach being diagnosed with COVID-19, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Georgia's 56 state senators are going into quarantine.

Georgia Capitol

I spoke with area lawmakers about their thoughts on the issues. Representative Spencer Frye says this outbreak should be taken seriously.

“The governor called for a special session to ratify a declaration of a public health state of emergency, which has never been done in the history of the state,” according to Frye. “Legislators were asked to come back Monday morning in order to ratify that, now this is significant because on Thursday we had suspended session which means we had not completed all of tasks that were required for this year’s session. We suspended session in order to try to stop transmission of this disease to each other and back to our districts.”

His republican colleague Houston Gaines agrees. He called the granting of emergency powers to governor Kemp necessary.

“As you said, we did ratify on Monday, the first ever state of public health state of emergency and by doing so we gave the governor widespread authority in terms of what he would be able to do with state resources, with civil health, with the budget,” Gaines said. “It does allow the governor with the revenue shortfall reserve fund which is $2.8 billion should there be a necessity to use further funding, we did allocate $100 in the amended budget last week.”

The DPH updates the numbers every day at noon on it’s website, dph.georgia.gov.