By Commissioners Denson, Thornton, Hamby and Edwards.
A RESOLUTION ADDRESSING THE LOCAL STATE OF EMERGENCY RELATED TO COVID-19 ; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
WHEREAS, Athens-Clarke County, Georgia has experienced an event of critical significance as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease (“COVID-19”); and
WHEREAS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (the “CDC”) indicates that COVID-19 is a new and contagious respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that has been detected in more than 100 locations around the world, including in the United States; and
WHEREAS, as reported by the World Health Organization (“WHO”), the world has experienced a deep humanitarian crisis with more than 2,314,621 cases and more than 157,847 deaths due to COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, COVID-19 is officially a global pandemic according to the WHO; and
WHEREAS, on March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency for the United States of America in response to COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, on March 14, 2020, Governor Brian Kemp declared a Public Health State of Emergency due to COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, on March 16, 2020, the Mayor and Commission of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia adopted an Ordinance for the Declaration of Local State of Emergency related to COVID-19;
WHEREAS, on March 19, 2020, the Mayor and Commission of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia adopted an Ordinance for the Second Declaration of Local State of Emergency related to COVID-19;
WHEREAS, as reported by the Georgia Department of Health effective as of April 20, 2020, Georgia has 19,398 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 774 COVID-19 related deaths with cases present in 157 of Georgia’s 159 counties; and
WHEREAS, as reported by the Georgia Department of Health effective as of April 20, 2020, Athens-Clarke County, Georgia now has 114 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 13 COVID-19 related deaths; and
WHEREAS, the CDC has issued guidance on the emerging and rapidly evolving situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, including how to protect oneself from illness; and
WHEREAS, the CDC recommends social distancing to prevent the continued spread of the virus; and
WHEREAS, on March 16, 2020, President Donald Trump issued his Coronavirus Guidelines for America which instructs people to listen to their local authorities and to avoid social gatherings of more than (10) people; and
WHEREAS, on April 3, 2020, Governor Brian Kemp issued a shelter in place order for the state of Georgia; and
WHEREAS, on April 8, 2020, Governor Brian Kemp declared that the public health emergency created by the spread of COVID-19 persists in the State, and that it is necessary and appropriate to renew the Public Health State of Emergency for thirty (30) days; and
WHEREAS, cities, states, and counties, including but not limited to, the Alameda County, California, the City of Los Angeles, California, the City of Seattle, Washington, and the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have imposed temporary restrictions related to public and private gatherings to stop large numbers of people from gathering and staying in close proximity during the COVID-19 pandemic; and
WHEREAS, the CDC expects that additional cases of COVID-19 will be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States, and that person-to-person spread is likely to continue; and
WHEREAS, local emergency hospital personnel have reported to the Mayor and Commission that they are treating patients with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and that there is shortage of personal protective equipment which threatens the health, safety, and welfare of the general public and medical personnel;
WHEREAS, medical professionals have advised that if COVID-19 spreads in Athens-Clarke County at a rate comparable to other affected areas, the pandemic may overwhelm the resources and capacity of county governments and public health agencies that provide essential services to contain and mitigate the spread of contagious diseases, such as COVID-19; an outbreak may become too large in scope to be handled by the normal county and municipal operating services in some parts of this State; and
WHEREAS, on April 20, 2020, Governor Brian Kemp ordered that most businesses may resume in-person operations starting Friday, April 24, 2020; and
WHEREAS, the Mayor and Commission of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, holds there still exist emergency circumstances as a result of COVID-19 within the geographical boundaries of the Unified Government; and
WHEREAS, to prevent or minimize injury to people resulting from this pandemic, the Mayor and Commission finds that certain actions are necessary, including but not limited to, the social distancing measures set forth herein;
THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED:
- Evidence of increasing occurrence of COVID-19 within the County and throughout Georgia prompts this Resolution’s adoption. Scientific evidence and best practices regarding the most effective approach to slow the transmission of the Coronavirus informs this Resolution’s recommendations. The age, condition, and health of a significant portion of the population of the County places it at acute risk for a COVID-19 epidemic. Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, which is now a pandemic according to the World Health Organization, there is a public health emergency throughout the County. The COVID-19 virus infects some persons without showing symptoms. Absent robust testing, these asymptomatic persons are unaware that they carry the virus and may transmit it to others. Because asymptomatic persons can transmit the disease, and because evidence shows the disease is highly transmissible, gatherings are irresponsible and can result in extreme viral transmission. Evidence shows that at this stage of the pandemic, it is essential to slow viral transmission as much as possible to protect the most vulnerable persons and to prevent the virus from overwhelming the County’s healthcare system. One proven way to slow the transmission is to limit interactions among people to the greatest extent possible. By reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, this Resolution helps preserve the County’s critical and limited healthcare capacity. The directives in this Resolution are recommendations from the Mayor and Commission, and these directives are based upon recommended best practices from public health authorities. The Mayor and Commission encourage all residents, visitors, business entities, governmental entities, and non-profit entities within Athens-Clarke County to observe these best practices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- The intent of this Resolution is to ensure that the maximum number of persons possible self-isolate in their residence to the maximum extent feasible, while enabling Essential Services to continue. This self-isolation will slow the spread of COVID-19 to the maximum extent possible. When people must leave their residence to obtain or perform Essential Services, they are strongly encouraged to comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in Section 11 below. Failure to comply with any of the provisions of this Resolution constitute an imminent threat to public health.
- Persons living within the territorial limits of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, (the “County”) are strongly encouraged to shelter at their residence. To the extent individuals use shared or outdoor spaces, they are strongly encouraged to maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person. The Mayor and Commission further encourages persons to wear facemasks when in public, following the CDC recommendation. Persons may leave their residence for Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, or to operate Essential Businesses, as defined in Section 11. Individuals experiencing homelessness are strongly urged to obtain shelter, and governmental and other entities are strongly urged to make such shelter available as soon as possible and to the maximum extent practicable (and to utilize Social Distancing Requirements in their operation).
- All businesses with a facility in the County, except Essential Businesses as defined below in Section 11, are strongly encouraged to cease all activities except Minimum Basic Operations, as defined in Section 11. Businesses may continue operations consisting exclusively of employees or contractors performing activities at their own residences (i.e., teleworking or working from home). All Essential Businesses are strongly encouraged to remain open. To the greatest extent feasible, Essential Businesses are strongly encouraged to comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in Section 10 below, including, but not limited to, when customers are standing in line.
- The Mayor and Commission on April 14th, 2020, adopted a resolution appropriating $150,00.00 (one hundred and fifty thousand dollars) in emergency funding for indigent care during this pandemic crisis. The Mayor and Commission are further participating in the creation of a joint development authority with the City of Winterville for the purposes of creating a mechanism to provide loans to local small businesses.
- The Mayor and Commission discourages all gatherings outside a household or living unit as they are a threat to public health. This Resolution allows the gathering of members of a household or living unit.
- The Mayor and Commission discourages all travel, including, but not limited to, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile, or public transit, except Essential Travel and Essential Activities as defined below in Section 11. People are strongly encouraged to use public transit only to perform Essential Activities, to travel to and from work, to operate Essential Businesses, or to maintain Essential Governmental Functions. Public transit passengers are strongly encouraged to comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in Section 10 below. This Resolution allows travel in or out of the County to perform Essential Activities, operate Essential Businesses, or maintain Essential Governmental Functions.
- The Mayor and Commission further adopts this Resolution due to the existence of 114 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the County, as of 11:27am on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. The County’s cases likely include a significant and increasing number of cases of community transmission. Testing capacity for COVID-19 in Georgia is increasing but not yet at an adequate level to stem community transmission. This Resolution is necessary to slow the rate of spread and the Mayor and Commission will re-evaluate it as further data becomes available.
- This Resolution is issued in accordance with, and incorporates by reference, the March 16, 2020, Proclamation of a State of Emergency issued by Governor Brian Kemp.
- This Resolution comes after the release of substantial guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Georgia Department of Public Health, and other public health officials throughout the United States and around the world, including a variety of prior orders to combat the spread and harms of COVID-19. The Mayor and Commission will continue to assess the quickly evolving situation and may issue additional Orders related to COVID-19.
- Definitions and Exemptions.
- a. For purposes of this Resolution, individuals are strongly encouraged to leave their residence only to perform any of the following “Essential Activities.” But people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and people who are sick are urged to stay in their residence to the extent possible except as necessary to seek medical care.
- i. To engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members or partners or significant others (including, but not limited to, pets), such as, by way of example only and without limitation, obtaining medical supplies or medication, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home.
- ii. To obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others, such as, by way of example only and without limitation, canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supplies, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products, and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.
- iii. To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Section, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, running, or bicycling.
- iv. To perform work providing essential products and services at an Essential Business or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in this Resolution, including Minimum Basic Operations.
- v. To care for a family member or pet in another household.
- b. For purposes of this Resolution, individuals are strongly encouraged to leave their residence to work for or obtain services at any “Healthcare Operations” including hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other healthcare facilities, healthcare suppliers, home healthcare services providers, mental health providers, or any related and/or ancillary healthcare services. “Healthcare Operations” also includes veterinary care and all healthcare services provided to animals. This exemption shall be construed broadly to avoid any impacts to the delivery of healthcare, broadly defined. “Healthcare Operations” does not include fitness and exercise gyms and similar facilities.
- c. For purposes of this Resolution, individuals are strongly encouraged to leave their residence to provide any services or perform any work necessary to the operations and maintenance of “Essential Infrastructure,” including, but not limited to, public works construction, construction and all related activities (in particular affordable housing or housing for individuals experiencing homelessness), airport operations, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services), provided that they carry out those services or that work in compliance with Social Distancing Requirements as defined this Section, to the extent possible.
- d. For purposes of this Resolution, all first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, court personnel, and law enforcement personnel, and others who need to perform essential services are categorically exempt from this Resolution. Further, nothing in this Resolution prohibits any individual from performing or accessing “Essential Governmental Functions,” as determined by the governmental entity performing those functions. Each governmental entity is strongly encouraged to identify and designate appropriate employees or contractors to continue providing and carrying out any Essential Governmental Functions. All Essential Governmental Functions are strongly encouraged to be performed in compliance with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Section, to the extent possible.
- e. For the purposes of this Resolution, covered businesses include any for-profit, nonprofit, or private educational entities, regardless of the nature of the service, the function they perform, or its corporate or entity structure.
- f. For the purposes of this Resolution, “Essential Businesses” means:
- i. Healthcare Operations and Essential Infrastructure;
- ii. Grocery stores, certified farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). This includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other nongrocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences;
- iii. Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing;
- iv. Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
- v. Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services;
- vi. Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities;
- vii. Banks and related financial institutions;
- viii. Hardware stores;
- ix. Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses;
- x. Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes;
- xi. Educational institutions—including private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities—for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible;
- xii. Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers;
- xiii. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out. Schools and other entities that typically provide free food services to students or members of the public may continue to do so under this Resolution on the condition that the food is provided to students or members of the public on a pick-up and take-away basis only. Schools and other entities that provide food services under this exemption are strongly encouraged not to permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided, or at any other gathering site;
- xiv. Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home;
- xv. Businesses or manufacturers that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate;
- xvi. Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods, or services directly to residences;
- xvii. Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for Essential Activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this Resolution;
- xviii. Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children;
- xix. Residential facilities including hotels, motels, shared rental units and similar facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children;
- xx. Professional services, such as legal, accounting services, real estate services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities;
- xxi. Unless otherwise preempted by state law, childcare facilities providing services that enable employees are exempted in this Resolution to work as permitted. To the extent possible, childcare facilities must operate under the following mandatory conditions:
- 1. Childcare is strongly encouraged to be carried out in stable groups of 12 or fewer (“stable” means that the same 12 or fewer children are in the same group each day).
- 2. Children are strongly encouraged not to change from one group to another.
- 3. If more than one group of children is cared for at one facility, each group is strongly encouraged to be in a separate room. Groups are strongly encouraged not to mix with each other.
- 4. Childcare providers are strongly encouraged to remain solely with one group of children. g. For the purposes of this Resolution, “Minimum Basic Operations” include the following, provided that employees comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined this Section, to the extent possible, while carrying out such operations:
- xxii. All businesses which possess a Class A, retail liquor package license; Class B, retail beer package license; or a Class C, retail wine package license shall be authorized, but are strongly encouraged to only operate via drive-thru or in parking lots or at curb.
- g. For the purposes of this Resolution, “Minimum Basic Operations” include the following, provided that employees comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Section to the extent possible, while carrying out such operations.
- i. The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions.
- ii. The minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.
- h. For the purposes of this Resolution, “Essential Travel” includes travel for any of the following purposes. Individuals engaged in any Essential Travel are strongly encouraged to comply with all Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Section below.
- i. Any travel related to the provision of or access to Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, Essential Businesses, or Minimum Basic Operations.
- ii. Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons.
- iii. Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services.
- iv. Travel to return to a place of residence from outside the jurisdiction.
- v. Travel required by law enforcement or court order.
- vi. Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the County. Individuals are strongly encouraged to verify that their transportation out of the County remains available and functional prior to commencing such travel.
- i. For purposes of this Resolution, residences include hotels, motels, shared rental units and similar facilities.
- j. For purposes of this Resolution, “Social Distancing Requirements” includes maintaining at least six-foot social distancing from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and not shaking hands. Persons are strongly encouraged to wear a mask or face-covering when in public to prevent or hinder the transmission of the Coronavirus.
- Copies of this Resolution shall promptly be: (1) made available at City Hall for the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia; (2) posted on the Unified Government’s website; and (3) provided to any member of the public requesting a copy of this Resolution.
SO RESOLVED this 21st day of April, 2020.
THE UNIFIED GOVERNMENT OF ATHENS-CLARKE COUNTY, GEORGIA
Kelly Girtz, Mayor
ATTEST: Gloria J. Spratlin, Clerk of Commission