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Gov. Brian Kemp commits $100 million to fight COVID, omicron surge in Georgia

Dave WIlliams Capitol Beat

Georgia is throwing money and manpower at the latest surge in coronavirus.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced Wednesday that the state will spend $100 million to put up to 1,000 additional health care workers on the job battling the spike in COVID- 19 cases driven by the omicron variant. Up to 200 Georgia National Guard troops also will be deployed beginning Jan. 3, Kemp said during an impromptu news conference. Half of those 200 will be sent to hospitals, while 96 will be assigned to help staff testing sites across the state operated by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The actions the governor announced came one day after the state set a record with 13,670 new confirmed cases of COVID- 19 or likely cases detected by positive antigen rapid tests, the most on a single day since last January.

Despite the surge, Kemp vowed not to shut down the state’s economy with the kinds of restrictions imposed during the pandemic’s early days in March of last year. “I will absolutely not be implementing any measures that shutter businesses or divide the vaccinated from the unvaccinated or the masked from the unmasked,” he said. “It is time to trust our citizens to do what’s right for themselves and their families.”

After speaking with the heads of nine health systems from across Georgia on Wednesday morning, Kemp said he was encouraged by data showing that those who have been vaccinated and boosted are likely to develop only mild symptoms even if they come down with COVID-19.

Kemp said 60% of eligible Georgians have received at least one shot, while 53% are fully vaccinated. Of the fully vaccinated, 35% have been boosted, the governor posted on Twitter.

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