ATLANTA - The Lieutenant Governor of Georgia and several members of the Georgia General Assembly are self-quarantining after a member of the Senate tested positive for the coronavirus.
State Senator Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, announced Wednesday he tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Sen. Beach was in attendance at Monday's special session.
Beach said he would be quarantined at home for at least 14 days.
A statement from the senator released Wednesday evening reads in part:
“After experiencing a fever and cough, I sought medical attention last week. The diagnosis I was given was not coronavirus, but I did get tested for it on Saturday. With medication, I felt better by Monday and thought I was in the clear. Today, however, my test came back positive.
“For now, I’m at home. I continue to suffer from a fever and cough, but I’m following doctor’s orders, including the admonition to stay away from the hospital unless it becomes difficult to breathe. I know many Georgians are praying hard as we weather this crisis together, and frankly, I’d ask that they pray for me, as well as all the others in our state who are going through this right now – and those who soon will.
“I know I face a difficult two weeks, but I’ll work to keep everyone updated on my progress. With the support of my wife – who is keeping a safe distance and so far doesn’t have symptoms – and my family and friends, I know I’ll get through this and get back to work for my constituents.”
Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan posted about the news in a tweet early Wednesday evening.
"Today one of our Senate members tested positive for the coronavirus. As a result, I have been told to go into a self-quarantine for the next 14 days," Lt. Gov. Duncan was quoted in a statement on Twitter. " I rest easy knowing that suspending the 2020 session was the right call. We want to protect our members, their families and the individuals they come in contact with daily. The special session on Monday was absolutely necessary to ratify the governor's public health state of emergency, and we tried to take serious precautions to keep members safe while at the Capitol."
Several members of the Georgia Legislature also posted they were self-quarantining.
State Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller (R – Gainesville), Majority Leader Mike Dugan (R - Carrollton), and Minority Leader Steve Henson (D - Tucker) sent FOX 5 Atlanta the following joint statement:
“Today, Senate members and staff were notified that a senator had been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), after first experiencing symptoms on March 10. As a result, and based upon the recommendation of the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health Dr. Kathleen Toomey and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Senate members and Senate employees have been asked to self-quarantine for fourteen days. While not a part of the official recommendation to self-quarantine, members of the public who frequent the Capitol should use their best judgment when making a decision to self-quarantine and should contact their primary care provider if they begin to exhibit any symptoms. At this time, we ask for privacy for the patient and continue to encourage the public to follow the recommendations established by state, local and federal healthcare professionals."
Not all lawmakers are happy with Senator Beach, including Representative Scot Turner who blasted Beach on his Facebook page.
"I'm shaking with rage," Turner said. "We were told if we had symptoms to refrain from going to the Capitol."
The Holly Springs Republican goes on the say Beach "irresponsibly stayed all day after being tested and exposed all of us."
As of Wednesday, three additional people in Georgia had died due to the virus, bringing the total number of deaths to three. Health officials also confirmed there were 197 cases in the state since testing began.
In Wednesday's report, health officials say that 39 percent of confirmed cases involve people age 60 or older, people who the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say are at a higher risk of getting very sick from the illness. The World Health Organization has estimated a 21.9 percent mortality rate for those over 80 who are infected with the virus.
Gov. Brian Kemp declared a public health emergency for the State of Georgia in response to the coronavirus outbreak, allowing resources to be marshaled for the treatment and mitigation of the virus. Kemp continued on Monday by issuing an executive order closing all public schools until March 31.
Multiple cities in Georgia have initiated their own responses to the spread of the virus. In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms declared a state of emergency within the city limits, banning large public gatherings of more than 50 people until March 31.
On Tuesday, the South Fulton City Council said they declared a state of emergency, implementing a curfew between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. for all residents, excluding people going to and from work, emergency personnel, essential city personnel, and people making deliveries.
Measures you can take to prevent the spread of coronavirus:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
If you have recently returned from a country with ongoing COVID-19 infections monitor your health and follow the instructions of public health officials