DPH Prepares for Potential Spread of COVID-19

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The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state partners to prepare for a potential outbreak of COVID-19 in 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.

It’s important to note that at this time, the overall risk of COVID-19 to the general public remains low.

“We urge Georgians to prepare for hurricanes and flooding or take measures to prevent flu, so preparing for an outbreak of COVID-19 is no different,” said DPH Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey. “DPH is working to make sure our health systems, first responders, and county health departments have the resources they need to respond to a COVID-19 outbreak.”

DPH already has a detailed pandemic flu plan developed in partnership with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the Georgia Department of Education, and other state agencies, which will be adapted for a COVID-19 outbreak in the state.

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 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. 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 mitigation measures for affected communities, such as temporarily closing child care facilities, schools, and colleges and universities, and postponing or canceling mass gatherings. Businesses also should consider ways to implement strategies that include teleworking and cross-training employees on essential job functions to reduce the impact of a potential COVID-19 outbreak on their workforce.

Preventing the Spread of any Respiratory Virus

The same measures used to prevent the spread of any respiratory virus are increasingly critical 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’re 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.

The flu is still widespread and active in Georgia. The best prevention against the flu is vaccination. It’s not too late to get a flu shot.

Passenger screening at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport is ongoing. This is to identify people coming from China who may have been exposed to, and are at risk of, developing COVID-19, and to provide appropriate assessment and monitoring to protect the general public.

COVID-19 is rapidly evolving and guidance is subject to change. The preparations 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.

The CDC says we all play a role in getting ready and staying healthy at home, school, and work, and offers tips to protect ourselves and our communities from getting and spreading respiratory illnesses like coronavirus disease.

DPH will continue to update Georgians through its website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.

Nancy Nydam
Georgia Department of Public Health

Bill Valladares
GaFCP Communications Director

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The Georgia Department of Public Health is the lead agency in preventing disease, injury and disability; promoting health and well-being; and preparing for and responding to disasters from a health perspective.

Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP) is a public-private partnership created by the State of Georgia and investors from the private sector to assist communities in addressing the serious challenges facing children and families. GaFCP also serves as a resource to state agencies across Georgia that work to improve the conditions of children and families. Georgia KIDS COUNT provides policymakers and citizens with current data they need to make informed decisions regarding priorities, services, and resources that impact Georgia’s children, youth, families, and communities.