State of Georgia: COVID-19 cost $880 million in first months of pandemic

Wearing face masks, Gov. Brian Kemp and first lady Marty Kemp are greeted as they arrived for a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this month for the new Wellstar Kennestone Hospital emergency department building in Marietta. A new report shows the state has incurred about $880 million in expenses associated with COVID-19. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Caption
Wearing face masks, Gov. Brian Kemp and first lady Marty Kemp are greeted as they arrived for a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this month for the new Wellstar Kennestone Hospital emergency department building in Marietta. A new report shows the state has incurred about $880 million in expenses associated with COVID-19. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

The state of Georgia incurred about $880 million in COVID-19 costs during the initial months of the pandemic, according to a report sent to the federal government, which is footing the bill.

The new report provides a broad picture of the enormous cost of dealing with the pandemic in Georgia.

It comes a month after the General Assembly passed a budget that showed the economic cost to the state — a spending plan with $2.2 billion in cuts, including a $950 million hit to k-12 schools.

The new interim expense report — which runs through June 30, the end of the state fiscal year — includes broad categories and will be followed up by one with more detail in September.

States must file the reports because the expenses are being paid through the CARES Act that Congress approved in March or other federal programs.

About 40% of expenses listed as having been incurred is funding that will go to local communities to pay for the impact of the pandemic. That money has not yet been allocated.

The state said it incurred almost $400 million over the first four months of the pandemic on medical and public health expenses, including expanding bed capacity, increasing medical staff, testing, and acquiring masks and other equipment.

About $5 million was spent under categories such as improving teleworking capabilities of public employees and distance learning. Tens of thousands of state employees started working from home in March, a move that could save the government money in the long run.

Gov. Brian Kemp asked Georgia lawmakers in March to include $100 million worth of state money in the budget to help pay for pandemic expenses. But most medical expenses have been paid for with federal money approved in March.

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