Gov. Kemp Provides Overview of Federal Guidance to Mitigate COVID-19 in Nursing Homes

Press Release, State & National
nursing homes

Atlanta, GA – Today Governor Brian P. Kemp provided an overview of the recommendations President Trump and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued, in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes.

Nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities, nursing facilities, or long-term care facilities, have become an accelerator for COVID-19. This is because residents, who are generally comprised of a vulnerable population, are even more vulnerable to the complications of the virus in enclosed environments like nursing homes.

The recommendations are as follows:

  • Nursing homes should immediately ensure that they are complying with all CMS and CDC guidance related to infection control.
  • As nursing homes are a critical part of the healthcare system, and because of the ease of spread in long-term care facilities and the severity of illness that occurs in residents with COVID-19, CMS/CDC urge state and local leaders to consider the needs of long-term care facilities with respect to supplies of PPE and COVID-19 tests.
  • The facilities should immediately implement symptom screening for all staff, residents, and visitors, including temperature checks.
  • All staff must use appropriate PPE when they are interacting with patients and residents, to the extent PPE is available and per CDC guidance on conservation of PPE.

To avoid transmission, facilities should use separate staffing teams for residents to the best of their ability, and as President Trump announced at the White House on April 2, 2020, the administration urges nursing homes to work with state and local leaders to designate separate facilities or units within a facility to separate COVID-19 negative residents from COVID-19 positive residents and individuals with unknown COVID-19 status.

These recommendations will help long-term care facilities as they consider how to best prevent or mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in their facilities. For more information on CMS actions, please visit cms.gov.

CDC Statement on COVID-19 Apple App

Featured, Featured Stories

Today, Apple Inc. – in partnership with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – released an app and website
that guides Americans through a series of questions about their health and exposure to determine if they should seek
care for COVID-19 symptoms. The tool provides CDC recommendations on next steps including guidance on social
distancing and self-isolating, how to closely monitor symptoms, recommendations on testing, and when to contact a
medical provider.

This launch is a direct response to President Trump’s call for an all-of-America approach and will help Americans heed
CDC guidelines and self-isolate to limit COVID-19 transmission.

Users can download the free app from Apple’s App Store or access the tool online at www.apple.com/covid19 .
Everyone has a role to play as we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19. The latest recommendations can be
found at www.coronavirus.gov .

CDC works 24/7 protecting America’s health, safety and security. Whether disease start at home or abroad, are curable
or preventable, chronic or acute, or from human activity or deliberate attack, CDC responds to America’s most
pressing health threats. CDC is headquartered in Atlanta and has experts located throughout the United States and the world.

Local schools prep for COVID-19 amid of concerns

Education, News

Local schools are preparing for COVID-19 amid concerns, fears, and close calls. The spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, is making waves in the school systems.  Schools in Fulton County are closed due to a confirmed case and while there are no confirmed cases, at least two districts have situations warranting a closer look with a couple of staff members and a student in quarantine.

While there are no confirmed cases in Pickens, Murray, Whitfield, and Gordon counties, local schools found they weren’t totally immune to the threat. There have been some close calls and situations that have some schools taking notice.

Murray County has a teacher, whose parents have COVID-19, and a student in quarantine, sparking concerns about how school systems will handle the illness.

Pickens County Schools had a brush as a paraprofessional ate at the same Waffle House in Canton as an employee who had the virus. The paraprofessional isn’t showing symptoms but is “self-quarantined” for the incubation period.

Most local schools have a contingency plan, but one district, Dalton Public Schools, is already developing online curriculum should the schools decide to close.

Pat Holloway, Chief of Staff for Dalton Public Schools, said there are no cases or quarantines involving staff or students in their district, but they are developing curriculumn for students to access via their devices if needed. The system has about 7,800 students with third grade through 12th grade each having their own devices, either laptops or I-pads.

Other area schools, including DPS, are following guidelines set forth by the Center for Disease Control to reduce the chance of the virus coming into their schools. The Georgia Department of Health has resources available, including guidelines on how to disinfect surfaces.

As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the Center for Disease Control reported there were 23 confirmed cases in Georgia.For a complete listing by state, click here.

The virus spread from the Wuhan in China and has 938 confirmed cases in the United States and 29 deaths. A confirmed case in Fulton County schools led to the closure, according to the Georgia Department of Education, but they are not recommending closures for other schools. To read the GADOE statement, click here.

COVID-19 is spread person-to-person and symptoms are flu-like or the common cold.

The CDC recommends:

Local schools

Handwashing poster from the Georgia Department of Health.

Stop handshaking – use other non-contact methods of greeting.

Clean hands at the door and schedule regular hand washing reminders by email.

Create habits and reminders to avoid touching their faces and cover coughs and sneezes.

Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails regularly  Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning.

For other tips, visit here.

The Georgia Department of Health recommends:

Washing hands regularly

Get flu shot

Cover coughs and sneezes

Stay home if symptoms appear until they resolve

A notice from Pickens County Schools states:

Our school district is committed to keeping our community informed about issues relating to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). There are no cases of COVID-19 at any Pickens County school. You are probably aware of yesterday’s news report that an employee of the Canton Waffle House has tested positive for COVID-19. On March 1st, a 4th grade paraprofessional at Harmony Elementary School ate at this Waffle House. The paraprofessional is not showing any signs of the virus, and we do not know if the infected employee was in the building at the same time as the paraprofessional. We thought it prudent for the paraprofessional to self-quarantine for the remaining days of the incubation period, and we thought it important to share this information with you. Our school district remains in close contact with local, district, and state health officials and is monitoring this situation very closely. We will continue to follow the authorities’ recommendations on how to proceed and will keep you informed if there are developments that impact our schools. Again, there are no reported cases of COVID-19 at Harmony Elementary or in any Pickens County school.

Pickens County BOE discussed precautions at their recent board meeting.

Kemp issues call to action to all Georgians, schools, and local governments

Community, Featured, Health

ATLANTA, Ga – Governor Brian Kemp announced schools, childcare providers, local governments in Georgia now have the option to close, at least, for the next two weeks, starting this afternoon, during his latest COVID-19 press conference.

Mere hours after he confirmed, the first death in Georgia from COVID-19, Kemp gathered Speaker of the House David Ralston, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, Georgia Department of  Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to reveal extra measures for Georgians regarding the virus.

Kemp’s administration changed messaging to protect the elderly and chronically ill Georgians from COVID-19.

“Our message is changing. Elderly Georgians and those with chronic underlying health conditions face a much higher risk of adverse consequences from exposure to coronavirus,” stated Kemp. “We need to help them to dramatically limit their exposure to the public for the foreseeable future.”

These individuals need to avoid mass gatherings, even faith-based events to protect themselves against the virus. Two COVID-19 patients in Bartow did share contact by attending the same church.

Kemp urged citizens to talk with their families and make plans to protect those at risk by picking up their groceries, prescriptions, and helping them in any way possible.

The call to close schools or government offices isn’t a mandate, but, rather, the option now available, when “prudent”, to help keep Georgians safe. However, if counties, schools, or childcare providers don’t see a need to shut down, then they do not have to close.

Additionally, all elder care facilities are now closed to visitation until April 10, 2020, except for family members and end of life services.

Non-essential travel and telework are now in effect for state government, but the government offices and Capitol will remain open. Kemp’s office will send out guidance to all agency leaders for implantation.

The governor also implemented four new committees as part of the coronavirus task force: Emergency Preparedness Committee, led by Insurance Safety and Fire Commissioner John King, Economic Impact Committee, led by State Economist Jeff Dorfman, Primary Care Physicians Committee, led by Dr. Ben Watson, and Homeless Community Committee, led by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Update on Testing Capabilities

Toomey stated that currently the state can perform 50 tests a day and the department of health has more equipment on the way as well as additional training. She hopes the number will be up to 100 tests a day by the end of next week. Right now, Georgia has enough materials to conduct 500 tests in part thanks to the support from the CDC.

“We are testing high-risk patients,” said Toomey.

GA DPH commissioner Dr. Toomey is hopeful that Georgia’s ability to test for COVID-19 will continue to grow.

20 percent of patients have more severe diseases and five percent need help breathing, so those who fall into the high-risk category are being tested first.

Lab Corp can now process tests, which should speed up the process. The CDC has eased restrictions on COVID-19 testing, so the M-95 masks are no longer necessary as part of protective equipment.

She stressed the importance of those who might have COVID-19 to call ahead because no one wants to infect those in the emergency room or waiting room.

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