The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is working closely with the CDC, and state partners to respond to an outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S., including Georgia. The goal is to quickly identify cases of COVID-19 and take the appropriate public health action to reduce its spread and protect the general public.
DPH has a detailed pandemic flu plan that was developed in partnership with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the Georgia Department of Education and other state agencies, that has been adapted for a COVID-19 outbreak in the state. DPH has responded to other serious disease outbreaks, including Ebola and Zika virus and each instance has provided new insight and guidance and highlighted the need to be as prepared as we can be.
DPH Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) is providing CDC information and guidance about COVID-19 to all health care and hospital facilities throughout Georgia and holding weekly calls with the entire public health and hospital/health care community to update information and answer questions.
DPH epidemiologists are on-call 24/7 to help health care providers evaluate individuals presenting with symptoms of COVID-19 to ensure that possible cases are managed safely, support laboratory testing and implement recommendations from the CDC. In the event of COVID-19 in Georgia, epidemiologists would also be monitoring outbreaks and recommending control strategies, including guidance regarding testing and isolation.
Should it become necessary, DPH may recommend appropriate community mitigation measures for affected communities, such as temporary closure of childcare facilities and schools/colleges and universities, school and workplace social distancing measures, and postponement or cancellation of mass gatherings. Additionally, businesses should consider ways to implement strategies to reduce the impact of a potential COVID-19 outbreak on their workforce, including teleworking and cross-training employees on essential job functions.
The same measures that are urged to prevent the spread of any respiratory virus are increasingly important for all Georgians:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Practice social distancing or putting 6 feet between yourself + others.
- Wear a face covering that covers your nose + mouth when you're in public settings.
- The best prevention against the flu is vaccination. Flu is still widespread and active in Georgia - it's not too late to get a flu shot.
COVID-19 is rapidly evolving and guidance is subject to change. The preparations currently underway in Georgia are based on the best scientific information we have from the CDC. DPH will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation, and work with state partners and health care communities to incorporate the most up to date guidance in our planning and preparation efforts.
Further, fear and anxiety about this disease have led to unnecessary stigma and discrimination against certain populations. It is important to remember that viruses cannot target people from specific populations, ethnicities or racial backgrounds. For more about stigma related to COVID-19 and how to prevent it, please see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/related-stigma.html.
Read updated CDC information about the virus, how it is spread, and how to protect yourself: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html
Read current DPH guidance: https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus