By: Felipe Rivas
2 min read May 2020—Southeast metro areas like Charlotte and Atlanta have been a popular destination for families, businesses and large corporations looking for affordability, dynamic business fundamentals and a high quality of life. In the landscape of the coronavirus, much of the national attention was placed on the Southeast in late April as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp led the nation in the reopening timeline, terms and guidelines. Following Georgia’s example, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday the loosening of his stay-at-home and transition into phase one of his economic recovery plans effective Friday, May 8.
“COVID-19 is still a serious threat to our state, and Phase 1 is designed to be a limited easing of restrictions that can boost parts of our economy while keeping important safety rules in place,” Gov. Cooper said in a press release. As of May 5, Mecklenburg County, where Charlotte is located, reported more than 1,700 residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and 52 deaths due to COVID-19, according to Mecklenburg County Public Health. “This is a careful and deliberate first step, guided by the data, and North Carolinians still must use caution while this virus is circulating,” Cooper said
Gov. Cooper’s orders remove the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses. Retail businesses are allowed to open at 50% capacity and must follow strict health guidelines and best practices, such as social distancing, perform frequent cleanings, provide hand sanitizer when available, and screen workers for symptoms. The order also allows people to leave their homes for commercial activity at any business that is open, bringing potential economic activity to small businesses that were shuttered during March and April. “We must continue to protect our families and neighbors as we take this cautious step forward,” Secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen said. “When you leave your home, follow the three W’s: Wear a face covering, wash your hands, and wait six feet apart.”
Days into phasing the reopening of the Georgia economy, health, university, local and state officials are ramping up COVID-19 testing in the Peach State. On April 30, the state reported conducting over 20,000 tests, a single-day record for COVID-19 testing, according to the governor’s office. “Thanks to Georgia’s partnership with our university system, the private sector, and local public health officials, we ended April by setting a single-day testing record, reporting over 20,000 tests on April 30 alone,” Gov. Kemp said. “This is great progress for our state, but we refuse to rest on our laurels. In the days ahead, we will continue to increase access to coronavirus testing across Georgia.”
In March, the state of Georgia announced partnerships with the University System of Georgia, Georgia Public Health Laboratory and Emory University to process over 3,000 samples a day. Since that time, Georgia, a state with large rural areas, has partnered with companies like CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and eTrueNorth to launch drive-thru testing sites throughout metro Atlanta and deploy mobile testing units to areas with limited access, according to the governor’s office. “We have the capacity, we have the bandwidth, and now we need the patients,” Kemp said. He encourages residents who are experiencing symptoms as well as asymptomatic medical and frontline workers to schedule a COVID-19 screening and visit one of the state’s more than 50 active testing sites if necessary. “We will continue to work diligently to innovate and increase testing in Georgia, and together, we will win this fight,” Kemp said.
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