With coronavirus cases surging across Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday announced plans to spend more than $125 million to add staff and increase capacity at hospitals.
Mr. Kemp, a Republican, is not requiring state workers to be vaccinated, nor is he requiring that people wear masks in public spaces, indoors or in schools to help stop the spread of the virus.
The governor’s announcement came after the Georgia Department of Public Health reported more than 14,000 coronavirus cases over the weekend and as hospitalization rates continued to rise. Georgia is averaging more than 5,700 new cases a day, its highest since February, and hospitalizations have risen to more than 4,400 per day, according to a New York Times database.
Mr. Kemp said that funding would provide 1,500 staffers to hospitals at a moment when medical centers across the state are understaffed. The money will also help establish 450 new beds for Covid-19 patients at nine regional hospitals. Additionally, Mr. Kemp announced that state employees will have off Sept. 3, the Friday ahead of Labor Day weekend, in an effort to encourage them to get vaccinated.
“I think letting the schools deal with that individual situation that they have is better than a one-size-fits-all, overarching policy from the state or the federal government,” he said.
Forty percent of the population in Georgia is fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in the country. Mr. Kemp urged Georgians to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“The most important thing for Georgians to do at this point, if you’re not vaccinated, is to please talk to your doctor or medical professional or someone that you trust that perhaps has been vaccinated and make a good health care decision for you and your family,” Mr. Kemp said.