Mary Margaret Oliver
Email Newsletter
 
April 22, 2020
 
COVID UPDATE

I hope this email finds each of you and your family members well. This morning Henry and I were outside and encountered many neighbors out walking, including a graduating medical student. Everyone agrees that our healthcare workers deserve our thanks and support. Because I live very close to Emory and it's in my district, I'm glad to show my support with a sign.



Among other things, this time spent at home has allowed me to  do some  much  needed  research.  wrote  an  opinion  piece  on why now more than ever it is important to  expand  Medicaid   by taking advantage of federal money under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The piece ran in Sunday's AJC.  

I've also reflected during this crisis on the many ways we are interdependent.  E Pluribus, Unum, our national motto, seems to have been forgotten by some. Individual actions can make a difference on a global scale. We've seen this work in communities and countries that have implemented full social distancing:  their case numbers and fatalities have gone down over time.  If we only think of ourselves,  we put others at risk, which is not wise or just or consistent with the values that define our state and our nation. 

It's with these and other thoughts in mind that I oppose Governor Kemp's premature order re-opening some business sectors. I want you to know my position on that order, as well as my concerns about the state budget. Below are also resources for financial relief and for staying safe and well.

Governor Kemp:

On Monday, Governor Kemp announced he would begin re-opening  the state. Under his executive order,  Executive Order 04.20.20.01 restrictions would be lifted for  certain businesses to
reopen Friday, April 24th, 2020,  and Monday, April 27, 2020. The affected businesses are required  to follow specific guidelines set out in the recent order, in addition to those in previous executive orders. 
The problem is that the covered businesses inherently require or involve close personal contact: nail and hair salons, body art and massage businesses, churches, and, on Monday, in-restaurant dining.

I disagree with this recent order. It is premature, given that Georgia has not yet seen the recommended two-week decline in cases. It is ahead of what the federal government and the nation's top scientists recommend. We do not have the science to support this decision.  Such a rapid return to these businesses i nevitably will lead to a spike in positive cases as well as fatalities -- thus  pushing off the opportunity for a quicker, safer recovery and return to  normal. 

I am a third generation small business owner. My grandfather was a builder, my father owned Oliver's Emory Drugs in Emory Village, and I have maintained my own law practice in Decatur for decades. So I have great sympathy for other owners, particularly those of you whose livelihoods are threatened. (See below for links to the Small Business Administration.) The ravages of this virus are deep and wide in our economy. But, as other states have recognized, we should not have widespread re-opening until there are more tests available and cases trend down long enough to feel safer. For my part, I will do my best to follow the guidelines below.  I hope you will do so for the safety of yourself, your loved ones, and those you may encounter. 

I have signed my name to a letter from the House Democratic Caucus to ask the Governor to rescind his executive order, stand with science, and support more local control.

Atlanta Businesses' Divided Reaction to  Governor's Order

Informal Poll:

Do you agree or disagree with Governor Kemp's re-open order?

Agree
Disagree

In the comment box, tell us how you feel about this decision, and what impact it will have on your behavior.

Complete the survey by clicking this LINK.

State Budget:

As you know, I work closely on the state budget. Before the session paused, we approved the short-term budget through June 2020. However, we have not finished our work, and the state Constitution requires we pass a balanced budget for the next fiscal year, 2020-2021. While other lawmaking is important, this is the primary reason the Legislature must return, in some way or form, to the session as soon as it is feasible to do so without risking our health. 

When we return, my focus will be to get a handle on any budget deficit and anticipate how we can maximize the federal stimulus packages to stem losses in Georgia and better serve Georgians.

The non-partisan Georgia Budget Policy Institute has an informative analysis of how the coronavirus might impact the state budget. You can read the analysis HERE.



Small Business Administration:

As you may be aware, the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) passed by Congress under the CARES Act has already run out of money. Larger banks took most of the funds and, in some cases, larger organizations succeeded in receiving those funds. As I write to you, the Senate has just passed (and the House is expected to pass tomorrow) legislation for another $320 billion in the PPP, $60 billion of which should go to smaller banks, and $60 billion to the SBA's disaster relief fund. (Money will also go to hospitals and for coronavirus testing.)

Here is the SBA website section on Coronavirus:  SBA Small Business Resources
For small business looking for additional assistance: 
This PDF outlines  who is eligible, for how much they are eligible, and the process and requirements to receive the loan.

Hospitals:  

State of Georgia's COVID Hotline:  1-844-442-2681
Please remember to call hospitals before you go.

Emory University Hospital, Emory Decatur Hospital, Dekalb Medical Center, Emory University Midtown Hospital:
  • COVID-19 screening line: 404-712-6843.
  • Phone assessment will take place with nurse to determine next steps.
  • No doctor referral is needed.
  • Call if the following symptoms started within the past two weeks: cough, sore, threat, & fever.
Grady Hospital
  • 24/7 COVID-19 Public Health Hotline: 1-866-782-4584.
  • Patients experiencing symptoms or those who been exposed to someone with the virus may come in to be evaluated, but patients must seen a physician prior to arriving to Grady. This first appointment with a doctor does not need to take place at Grady. 
Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center 
  • COVID-19 information line: 402-265-4000. Press 1 to select first option.
  • Virtual consultation is available for a charge: www.wellstaron.org.
  • Does not offer testing.

Below are some quick links to assist with questions you may have:
 
What You Should Know  ( here )
Travel Information  ( here )
Preventing COVID-10 Spread in Communities  ( here )
Higher Risk & Special Populations  ( here )
Healthcare Professionals  ( here )
Resources for Healthcare Facilities  ( here )
Resources for Health Departments  ( here )
Laboratories  ( here )
Communication Resources  ( here )  

THANKS and Caution

My district includes Emory Hospital and the Wesley Woods centers, as well as other medical, senior, and nursing facilities. Many of you work in health care. A huge thanks to you for all you are enduring and contributing. Thanks as well to anyone working in essential businesses. Your risks are not unnoticed and are appreciated. 

Until we are well past this crisis, I hope everyone will join me in following these guidelines: 
  • Remain at home as much as you can.
  • Wear face masks in public.
  • Remain a distance of 6 feet from people.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when washing is not available.
Virtually everywhere, I see the optimism and belief that we can and will emerge stronger. We will see where our strengths are and where work continues to be. 

Stay safe and keep in touch, everyone!
 

Mary Margaret

mmo@mmolaw.com
Law Office (404) 377-0485
Legislative Office (404) 656-0265
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