State officials and health leaders are encouraging prioritization of COVID-19 tests for the most vulnerable, first responders and healthcare workers.

After conversations with hospital and healthcare facility officials, and as COVID-19 continues to spread, Governor Brian P. Kemp, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), and the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA) issued a joint statement.

“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," that statement read.

According to federal and state health officials, COVID-19 tests must be prioritized for the vulnerable populations and the people responsible for their care and safety. This will conserve medical supplies — like masks, shoe covers and gowns — which are becoming increasingly difficult to find for healthcare facilities due to overuse, export bans and hoarding, the statement continued.

"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 healthcare worker, first responder, long-term care facility staffer, or law enforcement need tests," the statement said. "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 healthcare 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 “coldlike” 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," state leaders said. "Diagnosis through laboratory testing does not change the care that 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 healthcare provider if they are sick."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued revised 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 and monitor for symptoms.

Correctly washing your hands and maintaining social distance 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, state leaders said.

Additionally, state leaders issued the following guidance to Georgians to help slow the spread of the virus:

• Practice social distancing by putting at least 6-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 the COVID-19 situation as it develops, follow @GaDPH, @GeorgiaEMA, and @GovKemp on Twitter and @GaDPH, @GEMA.OHS, and @GovKemp on Facebook. For information about COVID-19, visit https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

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