Petition calling for Kemp to order ‘shelter-in-place’ gets more than 60,000 signatures

An online petition has been circulating demanding Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to place the state under a shelter-in-place order to protect Georgians from coronavirus. On Wednesday evening, their wish was granted by the governor.

A petition titled "Tell Governor Kemp: Shut down Georgia TODAY, Save Lives" began online March 20. It has more than 90,000 signatures, and it was slated to garner 150,000 to push its mission.

The governor announced in a Wednesday news conference that he would implement the measures that dozens of other states had, and that most recently Republican governors in Florida and South Carolina had. Georgians will be under a shelter-in-place order, with restrictions to only leave their homes for medical supplies or food. The order will begin Thursday and extend until April 13.

“I want to encourage my fellow Georgians to hang in there. I know you’re tired of this,” he said at a windy press conference outside the state Capitol. “But we must first overcome the obstacles in our path.”

“China shutdown a population of 56 million people (in 16 cities) with less than 1300 known cases,” the petition page reads. “In the epidemic trajectory, that is where Georgia is now! After locking down, Wuhan built a 1600 bed hospital in 10 days, and still was overrun. But they were able to draw on resources from surrounding regions that had shut down earlier in their own trajectories. By shutting down early, we help our neighbors too.”

As of Wednesday morning, there were more than 4,000 cases and at least 139 people who have died as a result of the coronavirus in Georgia.

Several Georgia cities and counties have issued shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders, including Athens and Albany. Kemp had previously had an opposing stance to the statewide lockdowns that other governors have implemented. The municipality level differences had made it confusing for residents to follow suit with orders.

In addition to the petition and city leaders advocating for the mandate, medical experts had urged Kemp to forgo concerns about the potential economic impact in preservation of public health.

“We need Governor Kemp to act now, the point of ‘no return’ for Georgia is rapidly closing,” said Carlos del Rio, the chair of the Department of Global Health Studies at Emory University. “To prevent a catastrophe in the healthcare system due to Covid-19, we need for him to shut down Georgia now.”