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Kemp: All Georgians, Regardless Of Symptoms, Should Use COVID-19 Screening App

Gov. Brian Kemp says the screening criteria for the coronavirus is expanding to include all Georgians, regardless of symptoms.
Gov. Brian Kemp says the screening criteria for the coronavirus is expanding to include all Georgians, regardless of symptoms.

Gov. Brian Kemp is encouraging all Georgians to undergo screening for the coronavirus as the testing supply continues to rise and the federal government plans to send enough swabs to test 2% of the state’s population.

Speaking at the Capitol Thursday, Kemp said the change in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention means those without symptoms can contact their doctor, local health department or use a free app from Augusta University to start the process.

“Right now we have more than 60 testing sites with more supply than demand,” Kemp said. “Let’s build on this momentum in the days and weeks to come.

The state has also ramped up testing capacity, with more than 217,000 tests completed. That represents about 2% of the state’s 10.6 million residents. Kemp says Georgia’s per-capita testing is now 29th in the country, up from 43rd a few weeks ago.

Georgia Emergency Management Agency Director Homer Bryson said the federal government will deliver another 210,000 test swabs to the state throughout the month of May.

Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the state’s public health director, said that Georgia has completed more than 110,000 tests in the last two weeks and said health officials need to offer testing to more people.

“And that's why we have opened up the criteria, as the governor said,  that anyone who wants to get a test regardless of their symptoms can be tested,” she said. “We want to ensure that everyone who wants to get test can get can get access to free testing through one of our sites.

Toomey said equally as important is the capacity for contact tracing of those who are positive for the virus, estimating the state needs about 1,000 people to adequately track cases.

So far, there are 250 on board, and another 200 or so medical and public health students are being trained.

Toomey likened the ramping up of resources statewide to a military operation that takes massive coordination.

“This is more than an epidemiologic activity,” she said. “This is a logistical deployment.”

As cases continue to rise and sectors of Georgia’s economy begin to reopen, Kemp was asked what data he is monitoring that could potentially cause him to re-issue some restrictions.

“We’re watching the things that we always have … watching our hospital bed capacity, we’re watching our cases of flu-like symptoms, emergency room visits, a lot of times you can get more from those figures than you can before the numbers that you’re seeing on testing,” he said.

With Georgia’s increase in testing for the coronavirus, the overall proportion of positive tests have declined. But Kemp said the bigger-picture decline does not mean officials would not take action in specific hotspots, like Albany or Gainesville.

Copyright 2020 Georgia Public Broadcasting