I-TEAM: What pushed Gov. Brian Kemp to issue Georgia's 'shelter-in-place' order? Models showing a much harsher spread of COVID-19

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Thursday, April 2, 2020
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

Gov. Brian Kemp held a news conference on Wednesday to announce a shelter-in-place order. (Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp defended his decision to not implement a shelter-in-place order during a town hall exactly a week ago.

RELATED | Coronavirus coverage on WRDW.com

But something changed between last week and Wednesday afternoon when Kemp ordered the shelter-in-place beginning Friday.

So what changed? The data.

The number of tests, the number of positive, the number of negative, the number of hospitalized, the number of recovered, the number of deaths -- those numbers are determining our tactics in the combat against the coronavirus.

“In keeping with our promise to let data and experts guide our decision-making, I am announcing another measure in a step forward,” Kemp said.

The shelter-in-place order came after Kemp reviewed scientific models predicting the spread of COVID-19 in Georgia.

“According to the Institute of Health and Metrics and evaluation of Washington, Georgia will reach peak capacity on April 23 -- that’s three weeks from today,” Kemp said.

The Institute of Health and Evaluation is part of the University of Washington. The research center measures health problems and evaluates strategies to stop the spread of diseases. The governor’s coronavirus task force uses their models.

“This model assumes people abide by the state's orders and use social distancing methods to the end of May,” Kemp said.

The I-Team found projections show Georgia hospitals will become overwhelmed in a matter of days. The model takes in account severely limited travel and the closure of non-essential services and schools. The model predicts a statewide shortage of 264 ICU beds by Monday. By the peak, there will be a shortage of 941 ICU beds with a total shortage of all beds just under 2,000. The model also shows deaths will continue climbing each day until the peak. The projection today is between 17 and 27 deaths. The projection for April 25 is between 46 and 171. The model shows a total of more than 3,200 people will die in Georgia by August 4.

For perspective: 83 people died of the flu in Georgia between September 29 and March 7.

“In addition, new models show hospitals will need more time to prepare for hospital surge capacity,” Kemp said.

South Carolina is not under a stay-at-home order, but their model shows they are in better shape than Georgia. It projects the Palmetto State will only be short 66 ICU beds by its peak with about a third of the total deaths than Georgia.

“When hard-working Georgians limit their travel and limit their activities, they are buying us more time to get us additional hospital beds ready order supplies and continue to prepare for more positive cases,” Kemp said.

We don't have the model yet which projects based off of the shelter-in-place order in Georgia, but we do know similar orders in other states have flattened the curve.

COVID-19 has now killed more people in the country than all of the accidents and the flu did in 2018.

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