Georgia is throwing money and manpower at the latest surge in coronavirus.
Gov. Brian Kemp announced Wednesday that the state will spend $100 million to put up to 1,000 additional healthcare workers on the job battling the spike in COVID-19 cases driven by the omicron variant.
Up to 200 Georgia National Guard troops also will be deployed beginning Jan. 3, Kemp said during an impromptu news conference. Half of those 200 will be sent to hospitals, while 96 will be assigned to help staff testing sites across the state-operated by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH).
The actions the governor announced came one day after the state set a record with 13,670 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 or likely cases detected by positive antigen rapid tests.
Despite the surge, Kemp vowed not to shut down the state’s economy with the kinds of restrictions imposed during the pandemic’s early days in March of last year.
“I will absolutely not be implementing any measures that shutter businesses or divide the vaccinated from the unvaccinated or the masked from the unmasked,” he said. “It is time to trust our citizens to do what’s right for themselves and their families.”
After speaking with the heads of nine health systems from across Georgia on Wednesday morning, Kemp said he was encouraged by data showing that those who have been vaccinated and boosted are likely to develop only mild symptoms even if they come down with COVID-19.
Kemp said 60% of eligible Georgians have received at least one shot, while 53% are fully vaccinated. Of the fully vaccinated, 35% have been boosted, the governor posted on Twitter.
The governor urged Georgians not to continue flooding hospitals for COVID tests. He said those wishing to be tested should go to one of the DPH testing sites, a mass testing site or use a reliable home test.
The DPH is increasing staff at its testing sites and working to open a new testing site near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Kemp urged Georgians suffering through another wave of the pandemic to be patient and considerate of others.
“We’ve gotten through this before, and we will do it again,” he said. “We’re all in this fight together.”
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.