We are all closely watching updates from Gov. Kemp and other state and national leaders regarding COVID-19 and its effect on our state and country.
On March 13 the General Assembly temporarily adjourned our legislative session and sent our members home to be with their families in this uncertain time. A day later, Kemp declared Georgia to be in a public health state of emergency due to the potential impact of COVID-19. This declaration required the House and the Senate to return to Atlanta within 48 hours to agree or disagree with his declaration.
March 16, the House and the Senate convened and passed House Resolution EX 4, which concurred with Kemp's declaration of a public health state of emergency for the next 30 days in Georgia, at which point the situation will be reevaluated. Kemp is now entitled to use additional powers granted to him by state law to protect our state and its citizens.
The House and the Senate also signed petitionsthat authorized our chambers to return to Atlanta on April 15 to further the status of the public health state of emergency in Georgia.
On March 17, Kemp signed the amended budget for fiscal year 2020, as passed by both the Senate and the House, that authorized an additional $100 million in spending to address the effects of COVID-19 on our state and fully fund our state through the remainder of this fiscal year.
On March 18, Georgia received an official statewide disaster declaration from the United States Small Business Administration (SBA). This allows Georgia small businesses and non-profits to apply to the SBA for disaster-assistance loans that will be evaluated by the SBA on a case-by-case basis. In the event that you wish to applyfor one of these loans, you should expect to provide a tax transcript, financial statements, and a profit and loss statement.
If any of you have questions about COVID-19, there are multiple options for you to receive updated, accurate information. The Georgia Department of Public Healthand the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionare both maintaining sections on their websites devoted to information about COVID-19. The Georgia DPH will also be updating its website daily with information on the number of COVID-19 casesin the state. Additionally, Kemp's websiteis continuously updating its section on COVID-19. For individuals who are non-symptomatic and have not been exposed to COVID-19, a toll-free phone number has been created for information on COVID-19: 1-844-442-2681.
As some of you may have heard, a member of the Georgia Senate was diagnosed with COVID-19 this week and members of the House and Senate have been advised, along with their staff, to quarantine themselves for 14 days. I had no personal contact with the infected individual in the past two weeks but, out of care and concern for my family and my community, I have been quarantining myself since learning of the senator's actions.
I urge all of you to use common sense, wash your hands and, where at all possible, work from home and practice social distancing. This is a stressful time for our nation and our state, and our leaders and fellow Georgians are all in our prayers. To those who have lost loved ones, please know that my special thoughts and prayers are all with you.
Please do not hesitate to call (404-656-5052), e-mail (Jon.Burns@house.ga.gov), or engage on Facebook with your feedback. It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly, and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly where he serves as the House majority leader.