Recently, a top Centers for Disease Control (CDC) official advised the public that the country is still experiencing a concerning rise in coronavirus cases. The Georgia governor extended the state’s Public Health State of Emergency for an additional two weeks after health officials reported the highest daily total of Covid-19 cases shortly before July 4th. The state of emergency will continue through August 11th, which would allow public and private sectors to engage in comprehensive testing, obtain additional supplies, and ensure that healthcare facilities have adequate staff. The order requires people to continue to social distance and bans gatherings of more than 50 people, unless there are at least 6 feet between each individual. The measure also requires that medically fragile individuals and those living in Georgia nursing homes to shelter in place.
Health officials report that although the rise in cases is mainly among younger people, older and medically fragile people are still more likely to experience hospitalization and death. Reports also indicate that the most significant Covid-19 clusters occur in nursing homes, prisons, and factories. These locations experience higher clusters because of the inability to coordinate social distancing amongst the populations or the ability to shut down. Moreover, nursing homes with large outbreaks often experience high rates of death compared to the community-at-large.
Georgia nursing homes must engage in steps to prevent the virus from entering the facilities and treat those who contract the virus. Although the governor issued an order protecting healthcare workers from liability during this outbreak, facilities may still be responsible under certain circumstances. Generally, the order covers Georgia hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, personal care homes, surgical treatment centers, specimen collection centers, birthing centers, and other similar institutions. The order limits civil liability for services that healthcare workers provide or perform during the state of emergency, however, it does not protect works for claims that they engaged in willful misconduct, gross negligence, or bad faith.