COVID-19 roundup: Kemp in quarantine after exposure, talks easing restrictions in Georgia

Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 3:27 PM EDT
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ATLANTA - Georgia’s governor says he plans to ease COVID-19 restrictions in the state. Gov. Brian Kemp says that his administration this week will outline plans to rescind remaining coronavirus restrictions.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that those include capacity limits, restrictions on large-scale gatherings and dozens of safety guidelines for restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and other venues.

Kemps says the move is a “critical step” in moving the state back to normalcy. He points to recent declines of new infections, and rising numbers of Georgians getting vaccinated as justification for the move.

The Journal-Constitution reports that the changes are expected to take effect Thursday.

Gov. Kemp was later called to quarantine after potential COVID-19 exposure while touring storm damage in Newnan, Georgia. He received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week. Officials say Kemp did test negative for COVID-19 on Monday morning.

Across the river in South Carolina ...

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced 499 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and zero confirmed deaths Monday.

That brings the total number of people with confirmed cases since the outbreak began to 464,169 and confirmed deaths remain at 8,053.

It comes during a milestone week for the state, when anyone living in South Carolina who’s 16 or older can sign up to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Gov. Henry McMaster announced the expansion on Friday, after Georgia had earlier announced a similar move.

If you’re part of that new rollout, you can start scheduling appointments Wednesday.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says the Palmetto State is expecting to receive a total of more than 160,000 doses from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

The agency says hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are down in part because of vaccinations as well as antibody therapy. State health officials said Monday they estimate more than 1,000 hospital admissions have been avoided and more than 100 COVID-19-related deaths have been prevented in South Carolina due to the antibody treatments. The treatment is a single-dose IV infusion.

Also in the news ...

  • The World Health Organization says the spread of coronavirus likely came from animals. A new joint study from WHO and China says transmission from bats to humans through another animal is most likely what happened. It also says a lab leak of the virus is “extremely unlikely.”
  • As the number of COVID-19 cases declines, so does the number of hospitalizations. University Hospital in Augusta reports 10 COVID-19 inpatients today. The total was 51 about a month ago an 107 a month before that.
  • Also declining is the number of employees at the Savannah River Site who are quarantined due to COVID-19. As of Friday, the local employer of 11,000 people reported 25 employees quarantined. As of about a month ago, the number was 67 and about a month earlier it was 190.

The Associated Press contributed to this report