Health officials: Close to 7,000 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Georgia, over 150 more patients dead
In the past 24 hours, health officials in Georgia have reported over 150 additional deaths and 300-plus new hospitalizations.
speaker, the president, the president, pro team, the majority minority leader of the Senate friend and a former member of this body who now serves a great distinction is our lieutenant Governor. Please make welcome Lieutenant Governor Jeff Duncan. If you thank you very much. It’s always a a great opportunity to come back to this great chamber and see so many friends. That is such an important part of my my life in my family’s life. But, uh, I was reminded, I guess, humbled. There’s probably never been a lieutenant governor to walk down that aisle and receive so many jokes and and being made fun of so much. But that just tells me that you all love me. It’s an honor to be here. Members of the general. Some of the joint session will now come to order, and I would ask that all members take your seats. Madam Doorkeeper, Mr President has excellently the honorable Brian P. Camp, governor of the state of Georgia and distinguished guests away entrance to the house chamber. Madam Doorkeeper, please let his Excellency Brian P. Camp, governor of the Great State of Georgia, and the distinguished guests be admitted to the chamber. All members, please take your seats. Mr. Clark, will you please read a resolution? House Resolution nine. My represented Burns 159th a resolution calling a joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate for the purposes of hearing a message from the governor inviting the justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of the Court of Appeals to be president of the joint session and for other purposes. I’d like to take a moment to recognize some very special people here today. And would you please stand when your name is called a great friend of mine and somebody that, uh, I got to know his speaker of the house, but now get to know a za friend and a co worker. David Ralston. Yeah. Also a great friend, Speaker Pro TEM Jan Jones and from the Senate, a great friend of all of ours and a great car salesman, President pro TEM of the Senate Butch Miller and someone our entire family has gained great respect for and continues to be so excited about your efforts in this state around human trafficking, on around foster care and so many other things. First Lady of the State of Georgia, Marty Camp. All right, and it’s a great honor to introduce the first lady of this chamber. Sherry Bradburn. My wife was unable to make it today. Teoh a previous scheduled appointment. And so I’ve got with me today and this is a proud moment. My oldest son, Parker Duncan. And I guess since the Kemps have no girls, you’re the You’re the first son of Georgia or the first Senate of the House. First son of the house, Parker Duncan. Thank you. I’d like to take a moment to welcome many of you back to this great body into this General Assembly. Also want to welcome so many of you that air here for the first time, it’s hard to believe that this is my ninth General Assembly that I’ve been in and around. It’s hard to imagine that that much time has passed. Um, I stand here today continually reminded that honesty and integrity or the best long term strategy for success in this building the short term sugar high of getting something done just for today to sacrifice tomorrow. I encourage you. It’s not worth it. I encourage new members and old members of this General Assembly to take to heart something that we talk about often at our house. Doing the right thing is always the right thing. It’s an honor to stand here today with the opportunity to introduce our state’s 83rd governor. I got to know Governor Camp, really, On the campaign trail, I spent two plus years travel around the odds, you know, times of the night and day and traveling all over the place, and sometimes we’d be in the same room and sometimes we wouldn’t. But we worked our way all across the state for two plus years, and every time I got up from listening to Governor Kemp, give a speech, there were four things that were unmistakably etched in my mind. A So why he wanted to be the governor one because of his conservative values to because he cared about rural Georgia three because he was a small, business minded individual and four because he was family centered and now in the role of governor. I get to work with him every single day, and I get to watch those four priorities become reality in virtually every single meeting that we’re in. I get to watch him encourage the room when we’re sitting around the table to be the one that leads the conversation on how to shrink government. How to make decisions closer to the voter, how to be fiscally conservative and prepare ourselves for rainy days. I get to hear him and encourage an entire room to care about rural Georgia on every investment this state makes on every economic opportunity. On every education decision, I get to watch somebody who truly does look through the lens of a small business owner, somebody who cares about and understands how hard it is to create just one job and how to keep that one person gainfully employed, even through a pandemic. And I’ve gotten a watch where his family centered values come from. I’ve gotten to know the first lady. I’ve got to know his three daughters. I now know why family centered values are important to him. I understand why he cares about education. I understand why he cares about community safety. I understand why he cares about economic opportunity for the long term. I’m proud to report that the man I met on the campaign trail is the man that I get to call the 83rd governor of Georgia. Brian P. Camp. Yeah, E. You know, bar looking ahead, my friend. Thank you all. Well, thank you all so much. Lieutenant Governor Duncan, Speaker Ralston. Speaker Pro TEM Jones, Members of the General Assembly. Chief Justice melting Chief Judge McFadden in my fellow Georgians, in my first state of the state address, I talked about building on a sure foundation. We applauded the leadership of governors, Purdue and Deal, who guided our state through difficult storms. I extended my gratitude to the Georgia General Assembly who helped pour the concrete with key investments in education and economic development. During that first address, which quite honestly, seems like an eternity ago, I retold the famous parable of two builders one who built a beach house and the other who picked a better lot on hire, more stable ground. The rains came, the floodwaters rose in the house, built on a sure solid foundation weather the storm. And then last year, I talked about our house plans The blueprint for a safer, stronger Georgia. Each side of the structure protected those who lived inside Windows face to the future in a front door open for all those who are looking for safety, opportunity and a better tomorrow. One year ago, I had no idea what we would experience in 2020 what we would endure. The storms we would face. One year ago, our economy was growing at a rapid pace, with unemployment the lowest in the state’s history. We had full faith and confidence that our best days were still to come. When I stood at this rostrum on January 16 2020 I didn’t know that a deadly global pandemic was on the horizon. We didn’t know that businesses would be shuttered. Unemployment would skyrocket. An opportunity would slow under the weight of Cove in 19. We didn’t know that our prosperity and our economy would be undermined at the same time that our health and well being was being threatened. We didn’t know all of the challenges ahead. All the impossible decisions to make all of the struggle, pain and grief my family didn’t know. We would have to say goodbye. The Harrison deal, the love of Lucy’s life, like a brother to Jerry, to name reporter and a son that Marty and I had never had we didn’t know that political division would generate ridiculous and harmful conspiracies, lawlessness and death friends standing here 12 months ago, I had no idea that 2020 would present Mawr challenges than any other year in my lifetime. There’s no doubt that this virus is impact of all of us beyond what we could have ever imagined. Too many families, air now missing loved ones, a heartbreaking, devastating loss that I know many Georgians air still grieving today. At this time, I’d like to observe a moment of silence to honor the life of every Georgian and every American taken from us too soon from Covad. 19. Hey, man, those great Georgians may be gone, but they will never be for gotten. We will win this fight against Cove in 19, and their legacies will live on for generations to come. In Georgia, our people are the foundation. Despite incredible loss and unprecedented challenges, Georgia is still standing. Our house, built on a sure foundation, survived the storm. This state, while battered, is not broken. A better, brighter future is right around the corner. Yes, we still have challenges ahead. A virus to beat an economy to rebuild and restore. But my fellow Georgians, the state of the state is resilient, and we will endure okay. As you know, agriculture is Georgia’s oldest and largest industry, supporting nearly 400,000 jobs in $76 billion in economic impact throughout the Peach State. While we often take these hardworking Georgians for granted, we were reminded of their importance in the wake of Hurricane Michael. With winds topping 70 miles an hour, this storm destroyed thousands of acres of pecans, cotton and timber, leveling homes, storefronts and structures, literally upending lives and lively hoods. When the dust settled, I traveled down to southwest Georgia to talk with local farmers and support the state’s recovery efforts. I remember many conversations while I was there. Most of them went roughly the same way these families were facing the destruction of their lively hoods. With bills piling up in federal assistance far away, I would ask how they would move forward. Would they be able to continue feeding clothing and producing for our state and the world? Nearly every person said they would clear the fields, repair what they could and start planning As we begin a new year, a new legislative session. There are some who wanna look to the past, assigned blame, settle old scores and relive and re litigate 2020 Today I think we should take the advice of those wise farmers. Let’s clear the fields and start planning. While Jesus was a carpenter, like his dad, he had some timeless wisdom on farming and life. In Matthew, 13, Jesus, there’s a few best practices with the crowd that had gathered. A farmer went out to sow his seed, and as he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow, but when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among the thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop 160 or 30 times what they sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear this parable told over 2000 years ago. Is Justus relevant? Today, a good harvest starts with good soul our future is a state for decades orm, or will be determined by the decisions we make in the days to come to ensure a strong harvest in the years ahead. Our top priority over the next few months must be Thio continue protecting both lives and lively hoods against Cove in 19. From the beginning of this pandemic, I stressed the need to balance those two priorities. The health and well being of our people and their ability to put food on the table for them and their families. In March, in April of 2020 that was not easy. Many problems we confronted as a state led to long days and sleepless nights. It seems like forever ago. But in the early days of our fight against Cove in 19, protecting lives was a minute by minute battle against the virus we knew little about. Our first test was in Albany, in the southwest part of our state. A few super spreader events led to the first surgeon virus cases and hospitalizations throughout the region. The local health care infrastructure was being strained to the breaking point, and community spread of the virus was rampant In response, the state quickly deployed deployed National Guard infection control teams, toe lurk local nursing homes, contracting with additional hospital staff to aid local frontline healthcare workers and dispatch the state Purchase Mobile Hospital unit to help with patient overflow. We stood up additional bed capacity and purchase critical PP supplies and ventilators toe aid in the critical care of infected Georgians alongside local leaders, we made every resource available and worked tirelessly to provide life saving medical treatment, protect the most vulnerable and flatten the curve. The local community stepped up to the plate and bought into what local and state leaders asked them to do. They wore a mask, practice social distancing, avoided large crowds and followed public health guidance. The community, not the government, flatten the curve and slow the spread of cove in 19. And while every part of our state continues to see higher cases, MAWR hospitalizations in more details at the hand mawr deaths at the hands of this virus, the Darty county community has shown what is possible when we all work together and choose to be part of a solution instead of part of the problem. Here with us today is a gentleman who led a team of healthcare heroes through some of the worst of this virus that has been thrown in our state. During one of the darkest times in recent memory, Scott Steiner and the hard work in Jordan’s at Phoebe Putney Health Systems held the line. They worked with the local community partners to educate the public. So when much of the virus was unknown, they provided life saving treatment to thousands of their neighbors, friends and coworkers. And like so many nurses, doctors and health care professionals across the state, the Phoebe team worked long hours under extraordinary circumstances not just because it was their job, but because they have a deep abiding passion for their work. Scott, thank you and thank you to your team for your dedication and service to the people of our state. We’re grateful. Learning from Albany is we moved into the summer months. The state launched a strategic plan to address the effects of Cove in 19 and its impacts on our health care infrastructure and communities as a whole, thanks to the help from our federal partners, the state purchase for mobile hospital units to respond to increase hospitalizations in real time working with the General Assembly in Grady Memorial Hospital, we ramped up the Georgia Coordinating Center to allow for statewide coordination of hospital capacity. We brought in additional bed capacity at the Georgia World Congress Center, allowing metro Atlanta hospitals the ability to quickly adapt to changing conditions on the ground. We kept hospitals open, accepting patients and keep in Georgia is healthy. Like every other state across the country, the pandemic introduced the dire need for rapid, accurate and widely available testing and infrastructure. The Department of Public Health literally created from scratch, but we persevered through significant supply chain challenges. We brought in the Georgia National Guard and contracting with Augusta University to boost testing, set up mega sites and drive through testing operations, and engaged hard to reach communities to help identify cases and slow the spread of the virus. As of today, there has been a staggering 5.7 million test administered in the state of Georgia, and we all know Covad 19 has hit our most vulnerable. Georgia is the hardest, especially those residing and working in nursing homes. From the start of the pandemic. Dr to me and our team recognized that nursing homes and their residents and staff would be among the toughest challenges that we faced. The state sprang into action and was first in the nation to utilize National Guard infection control strike teams to conduct missions and facilities in nearly every community. All told the guards, 65 infection control teams conducted missions and more than 2400 facilities. Speaking of the National Guard, I’d like to pause here for a moment and recognize their truly remarkable efforts throughout this pandemic. In addition to spearheading our early testing and and infection control efforts, our very own men and women in uniform also helped Atlanta area schools delivered 948,000 meals to Children who are out of the classroom through the spring and summer. Guard members assisted overwhelmed food banks from Savannah to Atlanta and answered the call to help keep our community safe at this time, I’d like to thank General Tom Carden in every Georgian serving in the National Guard for their tireless work on behalf of our state and our nation. We’re grateful. Okay, thank you. The state prioritized the fight against Cove in 19 and two other specific areas. Pee peeked procurement and additional health care personnel staffing, activating the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency statewide network. The state secured entire warehouses of PPE from hundreds of vendors, which was immediately sent the hospitals, nursing homes, doctor’s offices and other health care providers on the front lines. Because of their around the clock efforts. Under the leadership of former director Homer Bryson and director Chris Stallings, the state now has a least in 80 days. Supply of all critical PPE categories is our hospitals and nursing homes confront the fiercest part of the pandemic. The frontline healthcare workers in these facilities have literally faced hell on earth. They’ve worked under brutal conditions for multiple shifts over months. Now there’s no doubt that Georgia’s healthcare heroes have done their job with a grit and determination that hasn’t inspired 11 million Georgians. Never has it been clear how important your job is and how vital all of you are to keep in our state healthy and prosperous. I wanna thank you for sacrificing your time with loved ones for going above and beyond the duty each and every day. God bless you all to lend a hand to these heroes, the state has spared no expense. Through the end of 2020 Georgia allocated $250 million in Cares Act funds to augment staff at nursing homes and hospitals across the state. With an additional 7 70 million plan through early March. These nurses and healthcare professionals have been absolutely vital to our battle against Cove in 19. Often serving is a lifeline for these facilities and patients. I wanna thank them for their willingness to do so. These have been dark times for our state, for our country and for our nation. We have overcome so much, and together we can now see the light at the end of this tunnel. Thanks to the efforts of Operation Warp speed, we have a miracle of modern science that is quickly being administered. With over 283,000 Georgians vaccinated as of yesterday, we still have a long way to go, but were making steady progress. This is certainly good news, but our fight is far from over. This pandemic is still infecting and killing fellow Georgians and Americans. We must all continue wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, washing your hands and heating the regulations of the executive order still in place. But we also know that there are 283,000 reasons for hope and optimism. We will get through this. We will get their together. It’s pretty common for us to refer to 2020 and the pandemic is a fight or maybe even the battle. I know it certainly felt like one. For many Georgians, myself included. And in any fight or battle, victory or defeat is often determined by leadership. I thank God countless times for sending Georgia Georgia a remarkable leader to see us through these challenging moments because it is not only through God’s grace and eternal wisdom that we have Dr Kathleen to me. If I recited Doctor Toomey’s resident a resume, we would be here all day. Harvard train decades of experience and epidemiology on paper. No one would be better prepared for the job of confronting a once in a lifetime pandemic. But I will tell you the resume does not live up to the woman. All of us have seen it. Countless press conferences, interviews and fly around tours. Her knowledge is certainly unmatched. Her work ethic is unparalleled in her passion for public service and public health, and serving the people of our state is nothing short of remarkable. Dr. To me has become a friend and someone I trust completely God sent Georgia the right person at the right time. Doc, we’re thankful for everything you have done. Thanks to the partnership of both legislative chambers, the outstanding work of the best economic development team in the country. Led by Commissioner Pat Wilson, Georgia’s economy was able to hold its own during 2020 in a year riddled with economic hardship from coast to coast. Vice President Mike Pence said it best. Georgia helped lead the way back to a prosperous American economy, And if the first half of the new fiscal year has been any indication, the Peach State is well positioned to emerge from this dark period of economic crisis stronger and more prosperous than before. For an unprecedented eighth consecutive year, Georgia earned the title of number one state for business, affirming and solidifying our status as the leading competitors for jobs and investment right here in the United States and around the world. At a time in our nation’s history, when jobless claims have skyrocketed, our unemployment rate in Georgia sits at 5.7% well below the national average. And in the midst of a global pandemic, Georgia’s economic development numbers have shattered record after record. Since the start of the fiscal year in 2021 our Department of Economic Development has announced the creation of more than 16,000 new jobs and more than $6 billion in new investment, with more than half of those jobs going outside communities of out to outside communities from the metro area. Whether it was thank you whether it was Georgia base wind core windows growing their operation by 100 jobs in Swainsboro, Nestle Purina, doubling down on their investment in in heart, will buy 130 jobs, or major brands like Papa Johns and Home Depot relocating their headquarters in expanding their footprint, creating thousands of jobs in the metro area. Those numbers constitute a 40% increase in new jobs created and a 47% increase in new investments compared to the first six months of F Y 20. But what they represent is so much more than that they represent decades of hard fought battles, foresight and strong conservative leadership under this Gold dome. They serve as a beacon of hope to Georgians who had toe worry about keeping food on the table or if their kids could build a career in their home state. When the dust settles from the pandemic, they showed that rural Georgia, not just Atlanta, is right for investment and opportunity. And they speak to the strength of our business community, those hardworking Georgians who faced very long odds to stay in business and keep their teams on the payroll. I faced just a little criticism from all sides when we chose to safely and methodically reopened the state for news cycle after news cycle. It seemed like the only voices given a megaphone. We’re from those who could work from home long term, and those who had the resource is to shelter in place for months on end. But the voices I heard or the voices of men and women from Bainbridge to Bowling Brook Baldwin, who had spent years building their business creating jobs, sewing ah, harvest, they hope, the one day reap for themselves and their families literally days away from losing it all. I heard their fear, the uncertainty not knowing what tomorrow may hold. And it was familiar to May, you see, is a small business owner in the construction industry. During the great recession, Marty and I had similar conversations together in our kitchen, living week to week, day to day, hour to hour. Like many other hardworking Jordan’s, it was not uncommon for the guys on the job site working for me to have more money in their pocket than I had in my bank account. I could tell you those memories came to me often in the early days of this pandemic, the phone calls, texts and emails I received from folks that were holding out, hoping for a miracle. They weren’t that different from the thoughts going through my head on mawr of than one night. All those years ago, these hard working Georgians were struggling not because their business was a failure or because their products or services were no longer needed. No, they face devastation because of a virus through no fault of their own. While some disagreed with May, I know our decision to work with Dr to me and her team to give these people a fighting chance, a glimmer of hope meant everything to them. Salon, barbershop, restaurant owners and so many more who sacrificed time and Resource is to implement new COVITZ safe protocols in their stores when we reopen these new regulations up into their daily operations but kept many from closing stores, laying off workers and losing businesses that sometimes have been families and communities for generations hundreds of thousands of waiters and waitresses, contractors, hospitality and tourism workers and farmers the pandemic came for them is well, this virus took something precious away from each one of them, and not all of them ended up in the spotlight. My message to these great Georgians has been the same every day since we announced our measured reopening your state. Here’s you, your governor here’s you and we have your back. That decision allowed Georgia small business community to live to fight another day, and some of our largest companies, like Kia and Bridgestone Toe, have records success. It has never been clearer that we must honor the commitment to the job creators in this state. Our commitment has held through these last 10 months in communities rallying around local businesses who overhauled to adhere to public health guidance and keep customers safe and in the work done by leaders in both legislative chambers to make it easier to stay in business. In the era of Cove in 19, you see, in the heat of the summer, when we were facing some of our toughest days in the fight with Cove, in when access to testing was crucial in, the states struggled to meet demand for Critical PP. It was Georgia businesses, large and small, who stepped up to meet the moment from craft breweries in Albany, the local mattress manufacturers in Rome to a plastics business that began in a small startup in a garage and noon and 13 years ago, our very own pitched in to build up the state’s stockpile limit the need to compete with other states and ensure our healthcare heroes had. The resource is they need to care for Georgia’s most vulnerable One of those businesses, American Nets cut the ribbon to mark the official grand opening of their facility in Swainsboro in late 2019, with 50 52 jobs in their community. They’re ribbon cutting heralded the return of American made manufacturing Swainsboro more than 20 years after many cutting. So plants closed throughout the United States. And, of course, it meant good jobs and MAWR opportunities were on the way. The hardworking Georgians and their families, like all of us, seated here today, I’m sure no one at the team of American Nets anticipated Cove in 19, the Cove in 19 Pandemic and how hard it would hit our economy. But when the pandemic hit, they didn’t slow down. They rolled up their sleeves and they kept chopping. These American heroes shifted their entire operation to begin producing mask and gowns for frontline healthcare professionals. And while their products may not bear the name of a major brand, they caught the attention of people in high places, receiving FDA approval in a matter of days to so and send lifesaving garments to our frontline heroes. Steve Hawkins, the president of American Knits, joins us in the chamber today. Steve, I know at this time last year you could not have fathom that your plant was shift a 20 hour days, bring on more staff and work harder than you thought possible to fight a virus that we knew so little about. I wanna thank you for that. Your and your team’s commitment to that mission represents the best of the Georgia business community and reminds us all of what is possible in rural Georgia on behalf of all Georgians. Thank you, sir, And thank you and your team. God bless you. As state leaders, we knew we had to support these businesses as strongly as they were supporting Georgia. That’s why I was proud to work alongside Speaker Ralston, Lieutenant Governor Duncan in leaders in both legislative chambers last session to support the passage of a P p tax credit to incentivize in ST production and ensure that we aren’t forced to rely on anyone but our own Georgia made entrepreneurs for critical supplies. That piece of legislation was exactly the type of common sense, business friendly policy that we should champion here, in the number one state for business to stand alongside businesses who are working hard each and every day to provide for their employees and their communities in leverage state programs to support their efforts. That is why is part of my legislative agenda this session. I’m proposing a natural next step to the PP tax credit by expanding the letter of the law to covered pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturers. Georgia is home to some of healthcare strongest pillars with the C D C, several major health care systems and premier medical research institutions like Augustine University and Emory. And as we look to the future on the other side of Covert 19, we should focus our efforts on planning Mawr seeds in that good soul by spurring job creation from those industries that are critical to the health care industry. In building on Georgia’s Mo mentum to become a leader in all sectors of the health care industry, we’ve learned many lessons as a result of covert 19 and one that we learned early on is one that we cannot waste time in bidding wars with other states or foreign adversaries. No one nation should hold the monopoly on life saving medicals, supplies or equipment, and we should bring. And we should bring these critical industries and the jobs that come with them back to America and here to Georgia. Despite the challenges of 2020 I’m exceptionally proud of what we were able to compass while working together. Last year, for the first time in our state’s history, the General Assembly enacted a public health state of emergency, granting my office the flexibility and the tools needed to lead our state through the cove in 19 Crisis. As I’ve said many times, I know that decision was not made lightly, and I wanna thank each of you for placing that trust in May, working alongside chairman England Chairman Tillery in our state budget director, Kelly Far, we were able to make the difficult choices to balance our state budget. When the session reconvened last June through diligent work, we passed a balanced budget that reflected our priorities health care, public safety, education and economic opportunity. And while the media and the politicians in California, New York and others spent their 2020 throwing stones in glass houses here in Georgia, I’m proud to report that, unlike them, the Peach State will not be facing budget cuts this year. Okay, in fact, our careful planning and measured approach was rewarded in spades when the pandemics efforts effect on our state revenue projections looked at worst. We work closely with Chairman England Chairman Tillery, Speaker Austin lieutenant governor in the House and Senate budget offices to prepare for the worst. However, thanks to the passage of the Cares Act, conservative budgeting and are measured reopening of Georgia’s economy. Our rainy day fund remains strong. Other states are looking at further cuts to employees and essential services for aid there now forced to turn to a dysfunctional and distracted Washington D. C. But because we acted swiftly and early, the budgets my administration will propose in the coming days include no new cuts to state agencies and departments, no furloughs, no widespread layoffs to state employees. And I might add no new taxes to pay for it. All this sound fiscal management enabled Georgia to maintain our coveted Triple A bond rating, and we find ourselves in a position that many other states should envy. His economic experts point to Georgia’s ability to weather the economic fallout from Coach Cove in 19 as better than most. But now, as we begin a new legislative session, our state still faces headwinds due to uncertainty in the global and national markets. But it is our job to till the Earth past budgets that put hardworking Jordan’s first and get ready for planning, continuing to invest in soil ready to grow. Georgia’s economy means we have to stay laser focused on promoting development in all 159 counties, not just our capital city. This has been a top priority of mine since the campaign trail, and I know for many under this gold domas well, we’ve delivered on those promises by champion pro growth legislation for rural Georgia and establishing the rural strike team to bring local developers, elected officials and industry leaders together to bring projects of regional significance to communities looking to grow. But this is no time to let up. We know that we can land major investments in job creation in rural communities throughout Georgia, but we also know that will not happen if we don’t invest heavily in the infrastructure. And resource is necessary to encourage that growth. Many of the economic, medical and other challenges that are facing rural Georgia cannot be fixed with the top down one size fits all approach. These issues are best addressed through targeted, innovative public private solutions that meet the needs of specific communities, not just today but 5, 10 or 25 years down the road. That’s why I’ve included in my budget nearly $40 million to establish a rural innovation fund to provide a readily available pool of resource is that empowers rural Georgia businesses and entrepreneurs to get started, expand and thrive. This pandemic highlighted many challenges for communities outside metro Atlanta, but name but none more so than the critical need for high speed Internet access for better health care and educational outcomes for job opportunities and something this simple is keeping in touch with loved ones. That’s why I’m proud to announce that we’re including $20 million for this fiscal year and $10 million per year moving forward to boost access to rural broadband grants so local leaders can continue a growing and vital partnerships with the private sector and quickly improve Internet access for the people of rural Georgia. Yeah, in a year where doctors, nurses, medical staff, public health workers and other health care professionals have shown themselves to be the best of Georgia in the best of America, there is no question that we must direct every resource available to the expansion of healthcare access in Georgia to our most vulnerable to the families who have seen their income cut in the hard work and Georgians trying their best to make ends meet We’ve made great strides toward this goal. Already passing and signing over 50 health care bills in the last two years to expand access, spur innovation and cut costs for better coverage, including the patients. First out, Georgia has one of the highest uninsured rates in the country. In many who are insured or struggling to pay for care in the midst of a pandemic that is quite honestly unacceptable. Mawr action is needed. That is why my budget proposal for the coming fiscal year includes $76 million to implement Georgia pathways and access to make hair to make health care accessible for the first time to thousands and affordable for a million’s MAWR. By scaling back dependence on failed promises of healthcare dot gov, giving low income Georgians a hand up and increasing competition in the private sector to drive down cost will also make use of state resource is to shore up Georgia’s health care programs, with $329 million for Medicaid and peach care to fund projected cost in the coming year. When it comes to meaningful, innovative reforms in healthcare, Georgia is leading the nation. We’re putting our money where it truly matters to plant the seeds that we will grow in our state for years to come, we must add important nutrients and strength and vital lifesaving programs and invest. Our resource is and keep in Georgia healthy and prosperous for generations to come. Our oldest daughter, Jared, is in school at the University of Georgia to become a teacher. Earlier this week, she actually started a student teaching assignment. Marty, her sisters and I are so proud that she has chosen this path, and her passion for educating is only strengthen my commitment to the teachers of our state. The state was proactive and aggressive and easing the overwhelming challenges that face teachers and administrators last year, including allocating $30 million to help ensure student connectivity, slashing the requirements on testing, allocating $19 million to support child care for working parents and providing over 8.3 million units of PPE to schools across our state. But the daunting task of teaching Georgia’s next generation in the midst of Cove in 19 has been anything but easy. So many educators went the extra mile to help the Children in their classroom who don’t have the best home life. Or maybe it was to do whatever it took to make sure their kids had meals toe last them throughout the day. In a day and age where so much is thrown at those investing in our Children on the front lines, the additional burdens of remote learning, social distancing, wearing a mask, adapting to the new normal, honestly made educating overwhelming. But the great men and women running Georgia schools didn’t miss a beat from principals, teachers, custodians, bus drivers and support staff on down. Their actions have inspired us all. And today I’m proud to announce that working closely with state school Superintendent Richard Woods, the state will provide additional support to school system, reopening efforts equating to a one time supplement of $1000 per teacher and other employees. Richard Woods and his team have been tireless champions for our schools, teachers and students even before the pandemic, and I appreciate his friendship and his leadership at this time. I’d like to ask all those in the chamber and those joining us via Livestream to join me in thanking our educators, administrators, cafeteria workers in school staff who faced Cove in 19 with heart passion and perseverance. Thank you all with ladies and gentlemen, I believe it’s the responsibility of all of those serving under this gold dome to send a clear message that we support our educators, students and parents. That’s why, for this year’s amended budget, I’m recommending $647 million to restore funding to school systems across our state, fully fun enrollment growth and whole schools harmless for enrollment reductions with $573 million allocated to continue those efforts in next year’s budget is well, yeah, those funds mean schools will be able to prioritize our students safety, ensure quality instruction, continues and stand with our educators in the months and years to come in a year when other states may face no other option but to slash education dollars for low teachers and cut back on essential student programs, George is restoring funding to schools, backing our teachers and launching new initiatives to keep kids enrolled like many families are. Three daughters have had to get used to distance learning. Haven’t seen this first hand as a dad. I think I speak for many parents, students and teachers when I say that having a class through a computer screen is leaving too many kids behind. Experts and education and pediatrics have been sounding the alarm for months, and I believe the toll on the pandemic is taking the next generation to a crisis point. These challenges are most concerning for our special needs Children whose educational achievement, personal development and emotional well being have been severely impacted. To prioritize assistance to these at risk students and families, my office will be working with the Department of Education to set aside $10 million and governors emergency education relief funds to reimburse expenses parents and guardians have incurred while providing a quality education to their loved ones during covert 19 Pandemic or not, it is my commitment that we will make every resource available to give each and every student the opportunity to succeed. As many of you have read in the news reports over the last few months, Covad, 19, has also had a negative impact on enrollment, and some of our colleges and universities. The institutions hit the hardest have often been those serving minority students with an additional $5 million a pilot program through the university system of Georgia we can keep 10,000 juniors and seniors with unmet obligations enrolled in college. These hardworking Jordan’s had nearly crossed the finish line of their higher education, and I believe the least we can do is ensure that financial hardship at the hands of Covert 19 does not stand in the way of them achieving their dreams. The future well being of our state in any harvest we hope to enjoy in the years to come will be determined by our shared commitment to education to students, parents, teachers in school staff is your 83rd governor. That commitment will never waver. In addition to the pandemic, our country faced another crisis throughout the summer and early fall of 2020. In the tragic, tragic deaths of George Floyd in the Mod Aubrey, the entire nation witnessed injustice with our own eyes, and I was proud to support peaceful protests that drew the world’s attention to these terrible acts. And those voices demanded change to protect the lives of every Georgian, regardless of race, creed or political preference. In a bipartisan way, leaders under this gold dome stood side by side and answered that call. Together we pass meaningful hate crimes legislation that reaffirmed Georgia’s commitment to be a welcoming state, the values, the life of each and every one of its citizens. I’d like to thank Speaker Ralston, Lieutenant Governor Duncan Dean, SMURRAY Chairman F. Stray Shin, Senator Cowser, Senator Harold Jones and others for their work on this important issue. Often times the best of what is accomplished in this building is achieved when we put politics aside and simply do what is best. When I signed HB 4 26 in the law last year, I called it a sign of progress in a milestone worth applauding. But we know, thanks to the example set for us all by titans like C. T. Vivian and John Lewis, that work is far from finished. On May 5th, 2020 a viral video shocked the world. The horrific killing of Ahmad Aubrey shook a Georgia community to its very core. We all felt anger, disbelief in a deep sorrow, but none more than Ahmad’s family and loved ones. The mod was a victim of a vigilante style of violence that has no place in our state. The deranged behavior that led to this tragedy was excused away because of a law that is right for abuse and enables sinister evil motives. That’s why my administration plans to introduce significant reforms to our state citizen’s arrest statute and working with legislative leaders and members of both parties. I believe that we can take another step toward a better, safer and more just future for our state. We can again send a clear message. George is a state that protects all of its people and fights for injustice wherever it is found. Peaceful demonstrations across our state in honor of Ahmad, George Floyd and others were made possible by dedicated men and women in law enforcement. They worked long hours to protect protesters and to ensure if anyone had a different votive involving violence, that our communities and streets remain safe. Unfortunately, many of our law enforcement personnel were faced with events that turned destructive throughout the summer months of 2020. I don’t believe it’s ever been tougher. Mawr Dangerous Mawr challenging toe where law enforcement uniforms but police officers across the state have made us proud our state cannot prosper or repay good harvest without safe communities, safe streets and safe families. In a day and age where many vilified the men and women who protected our communities each and every day. My message is very clear in Georgia. As long as I’m governor, we back the blue. Atlanta police officer Max Brewer is an 18 year law enforcement veteran and a self described motorman for life and serves in the Atlanta Police Motorcycle Unit On Saturday, May 30th, Max is on duty in the city of Atlanta on the corner of Marietta and spring streets, assisting in traffic flow and ensuring demonstrators were kept safe. Around 10 30 that night, Officer Brewer was struck by a drunk maniac on a TV and suffered serious, life threatening injuries, going in and out of consciousness and losing a significant amount of blood officer brewers need was critical. The call went out for help. The closest available assistance was a Georgia National Guard unit under the leadership of Sergeant First Class, Just Justin rusting Sergeant Ruskin’s team responded quickly to the scene, applying a tourniquet, the officer brewers leg and providing life saving medical treatment at a moments notice. The actions of Sergeant Rustin, his fellow Georgia guardsmen, literally saved Officer Brewer’s life. Once stable but in critical condition, Max was transport transported by the Guard unit to Grady, where healthcare heroes continued to save his legs and his life. These two gentlemen and countless other first responders answered the call to duty in 2020. Both Sergeant Rusting and Officer Brewer went above and beyond that call. And for that, my family in our state are incredibly grateful. Officer Brewer wanted to join us today, but he still receiving treatment for his injuries. Today, Sergeant rusting is in the chamber with us, and I wanna thank them both. Thank you, sir. A state leaders. We spend a lot of time talking about Georgia. Status is the best place in the country to live, work and raise a family. We talk about it because for so many Georgia’s that phrase reflects the reality of how blessed we are to live in the Peach State. Georgia is rich with good soul, but it is our job to weed out the evils which seek to steal that promise from all of those who call our state home. It is abundantly clear that no industry embodies that theft of innocents, childhood and opportunity mawr than the sinister enterprise of human trafficking. During our first days in office. We hit the ground running to crackdown on traffickers, care for victims and eradicate modern day slavery in our state. And before I go any further, let me just say this. I don’t think. And I know no first lady in the country has Dunmore to end human trafficking than our first lady, Marty Kemp. And the people of Georgia, myself included, are lucky tohave you Thank you for your work. Marty and the Grace Commission have done incredible work these first two years implementing statewide training program. So Jordan’s know the signs and how to report instances of human trafficking, passing bipartisan legislation, meaningful legislation that toughens penalties on those whose participate in the sale of a person’s innocents for profit and working with organizations on the front lines and communities throughout Georgia to ensure survivors of human trafficking find their voice in their transition back into society. But his Marty and all of those who are fighting tooth and nail to end that industry will tell you there is far more work to be done on the heels of a year that so sewed so much division among party lines more than any in recent history. I’m asking members of the General Assembly to unite. Once again. Let’s build on the great work done by the Grace Commission by implementing MAWR training programs that equip Georgians to recognize and prevent instances of sex slavery. Let’s make common sense reform to our laws. So survivors seeking a name change to build a new life no longer have to take out an ad in the paper that puts their safety at risk. And let’s strengthen our statutes toe. Add a civil remedy that allows victims to seek court action against their trafficker or those who knowingly aid in their trafficking. There is no shortage of issues. There is no shortage of issues on policy or politics to debate this year. But taking common sense steps to keep people safe and bring an end to modern day slavery is a goal that each of us can work together to achieve. You see there is so much more that unites us than divides us and working together, we can continue taking necessary bipartisan action to champion the voices of the vulnerable here in Georgia, protect our Children, implement adoption reforms that make it easier to put them and put them in a safe, loving home and ultimately secure the promise of Georgia for generations to come. Is I come before you today? My memories of 2020 will not just be the struggles, the many challenges I spoke about today, the countless tough decisions or the sleepless nights. Like many of you, I will remember time spent with my family that otherwise would not have been possible. Our remember standing shoulder to shoulder well, 6 ft apart, with the best private sector political and civic leaders in our state to face a once in a lifetime pandemic. I will remember my travels across the state to visit Georgia. Companies and workers who proved innovation and hard work are the backbone of our economy and well being. As a people, I will remember the countless sacrifices and hardships faced by the people of our state and how we pulled through how we weathered the storm, how we emerged resilient and stronger than ever. The reason you build a house with a strong foundation is not for the good times, not for the sunny days you do it toe whether the storm, when times get tough. I spent my summers working on the farm. It’s hot. It’s hard work. But it’s also rewarding watching the seeds you planted grow over the days, weeks and months, literally enjoying the fruits of your labor. I know that many in this room in those watching are worn out tired and burdened. It’s a new year, but it all feels the same. There’s no doubt that this new normal isn’t really normal, and frankly, it’s not clear when things will return to business as usual. But my fellow Georgians, we have the opportunity and responsibility to make strategic decisions now that will impact generations to come. We had the opportunity to act and accomplish what we were sent here to do in five years, 10 years or 20 years. We can look back and tell our kids, our grandkids and their kids that we invested in health care, education and the safety of our communities. We upheld, are sworn oath and stood up for what was right. Even when it wasn’t popular. We prioritized jobs and prosperity in all parts of our state. We championed legislation to make our state, um, or welcoming place to live, work and raise a family. We protected the lives and lively hoods of what makes Georgia great our people. It’s time to put differences aside. Put 2020 in the rear view, Let’s stand together is Georgians and clear the destruction caused by the storms of life. Let’s clear away this conspiracy theories and the division. Let’s focus on the bountiful harvest to come. Let’s find that good soul together and start planning. May God bless you and may God continue to bless this great state of Georgia. Thank you very much.
Health officials: Close to 7,000 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Georgia, over 150 more patients dead
In the past 24 hours, health officials in Georgia have reported over 150 additional deaths and 300-plus new hospitalizations.
Above video: Gov. Kemp addresses COVID-19 response during State of the StateThe Department of Public Health in Georgia announced close to 7,000 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Saturday.Saturday saw 6,952 new confirmed cases and 1,885 Antigen positive cases.That brings the statewide total to 674,994 confirmed cases and 134,669 Antigen positive cases. Georgia is also reporting 11,029 confirmed deaths, an increase of 154 in the past day, and 46,515 hospitalizations, an increase of 307. Multiple Georgia cities among worst hit by COVID-19 in the US, according to White House taskforce As of 3 p.m., January 16th, there have been 30,402 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in residents of the Coastal Health District and 515 deaths.Cases by county:Bryan: 1,987 cases, 19 deathsCamden: 2,550 cases, 21 deathsChatham: 14,735 cases, 263 deathsEffingham: 2,785 cases, 37 deathsGlynn: 5,295 cases, 127 deathsLiberty: 2,046 cases, 33 deathsLong: 505 cases, 7 deathsMcIntosh: 499 cases, 8 deaths
Above video: Gov. Kemp addresses COVID-19 response during State of the State
The Department of Public Health in Georgia announced close to 7,000 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Saturday.
Saturday saw 6,952 new confirmed cases and 1,885 Antigen positive cases.
That brings the statewide total to 674,994 confirmed cases and 134,669 Antigen positive cases.
Georgia is also reporting 11,029 confirmed deaths, an increase of 154 in the past day, and 46,515 hospitalizations, an increase of 307.
As of 3 p.m., January 16th, there have been 30,402 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in residents of the Coastal Health District and 515 deaths.
Cases by county:
- Bryan: 1,987 cases, 19 deaths
- Camden: 2,550 cases, 21 deaths
- Chatham: 14,735 cases, 263 deaths
- Effingham: 2,785 cases, 37 deaths
- Glynn: 5,295 cases, 127 deaths
- Liberty: 2,046 cases, 33 deaths
- Long: 505 cases, 7 deaths
- McIntosh: 499 cases, 8 deaths