COVID-19 testing must be prioritized, medical resources conserved, Georgia officials say

STAFF REPORT :::

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread throughout the state of Georgia, questions abound regarding testing for this newest strain of coronavirus.

Today, a joint statement about the prioritization of testing was released by Governor Brian Kemp, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the Homeland Security Agency (HSA):

“Many Georgians are eager to be tested right now, but we need to be mindful of our resources. We have to be in this fight together. According to federal and state health officials, we must start prioritizing COVID-19 tests for our most vulnerable populations and the people responsible for their care and safety. This will conserve precious medical supplies – like masks, shoe covers and gowns – which are becoming increasingly difficult to find for health care facilities due to overuse, export bans and hoarding. Georgia’s elderly, those with chronic, underlying health conditions, those who live in a long-term care facility like an assisted living facility or nursing home and those serving on the front lines as a health care worker, first responder, long-term care facility staffer or law enforcement need tests. The best way to serve the public is to protect the people who are protecting us in this battle. It is our responsibility to keep the elderly and chronically-ill safe, back our law enforcement and first responders and protect the doctors, nurses and health care providers working around the clock. We ask everyone to continue to pray for our nation in the weeks ahead.”

According to federal and state health officials, people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 do not need to be tested. Additionally, most people who are mildly or moderately ill with cold-like symptoms do not need to be tested.

The majority of people with COVID-19 can safely recover at home with self-isolation and symptomatic treatment.

Diagnosis through laboratory testing does not change the care they would receive.

Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 and should always consult their health care provider if they are sick.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised its guidance on COVID-19 recovery.

The most important step in containing COVID-19 is that people who are sick with mild respiratory symptoms – fever and cough – should stay home and isolate themselves from others for at least seven days after their symptoms began or 72 hours after their fever has resolved and symptoms have improved.

If you have been exposed to an individual with COVID-19, you must self-quarantine for 14 days.

Correctly washing your hands and maintaining social distancing by avoiding large gatherings and close contact with people who are sick are two of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

All Georgians play a critical role in helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 by adhering to the following guidance:

Practice social distancing by putting at least six feet between yourself and other people.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Stay home if you are sick.

Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water.

Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

For updates on COVID-19 situations as they develop, follow @GaDPH, @GeorgiaEMA and @GovKemp on Twitter and @GaDPH, @GEMA.OHS and @GovKemp on Facebook.

For additional information on COVID-19, please visit https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or htts://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

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