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Gov. Kemp to sign shelter-in-place order, will close K-12 schools through end of year

Joining the governor were representatives from the Georgia DPH, GEMA and the Georgia National Guard

ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said during a Wednesday afternoon press conference that he plans to sign two orders. The first will require all residents to shelter-in-place from Friday, April 3 through April 13. He also will sign an order keeping all K-12 public schools in online learning through the end of the year.

"Tomorrow, I will sign a statewide shelter-in-place order which will go into effect on Friday and run through April 13, 2020," Kemp said. "This date is in line with our public health emergency order."

He said schools will continue doing the hard work happening with online learning.

"I want to thank all of the educators and superintendents that stayed in touch with us through this process to make the best of a tough situation," he said.

Essential businesses, he said, will remain open and that the order will be presented to the public on Thursday. 

RELATED: Gov. Kemp to issue statewide shelter-in-place order

The move comes as the statewide - and nationwide - fight to gain control on the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus intensifies. 

View a replay of the full press conference here: 

During the press conference, Kemp also reiterated the state's plan to quickly ramp up testing throughout the state, announcing that health officials will be leveraging lab resources available through the University System of Georgia and others. It's expected to help the state process an additional 3,000 samples a day.

"These new testing numbers will provide a better picture of COVID-19's impact on our state and inform our decisions going forward," Kemp said. "We want to assure Georgians in every part of our state that expanding testing remains a top priority for me and those who are with me today. The status quo is not acceptable. We will continue to innovate and push so all Georgians who need to be tested for COVID-19 can do so in a safe, convenient way."

RELATED: Coronavirus in Georgia: Live updates 

Kemp also outlined the state's available resources - including 3,520 medical surgical beds, 450 critical bed and 1,006 ventilators. He added that the state has also purchased four medical pods - essentially steel shipping containers converted to mobile units - which each offer 20 to 24 medical beds and a nursing station to treat patients as they arrive. Those, Kemp said, will be deployed to hard-hit areas. This is in an addition to isolation sites at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center and the Hard Labor Creek State Park.

"These numbers update on a daily basis, and we are continuing to monitor capacity," Kemp added.

The governor said he also suspended certain laws that would allow closed hospitals to reopen. It would also allow current hospitals to re-configure existing wings or start new construction to address the need.

While discussion of the virus was obviously front-and-center, Kemp pointed out two other troubling trends associated with the virus - an increase in domestic violence calls and a decrease in the reports of child abuse, both likely related to social distancing orders.

"We have been told by one Atlanta-area hospital that they are seeing a 15 percent increase in domestic violence cases in their facility. This is disturbing and cannot be tolerated," Kemp said. "We are also seeing a reduction in the reports of child abuse, likely as a consequence of our educators not having as much face time with Georgia students."

Finally, Kemp took a moment to spotlight small and corporate businesses who stepped up to fill the need of resources, like hand sanitizers and personal protective equipment. 

Kemp closed with a plea to Georgians everywhere: be strong and courageous, while continuing to stay safe.

"We are in this together. You are not alone."

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>> If you – or someone you know - needs help, please call Georgia’s domestic violence hotline at 1-800-334-2836. That’s 1-800-334-2836.

>> If you are a child in crisis or know of someone who needs help, please reach out to the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services at 1-855-GACHILD. That’s 1-855-422-4453.

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