State Representative Al Williams, D-Midway, urged folks to stay home, follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines, stop panic buying and listen to experts and government officials.
Williams spoke last Thursday morning during a teleconference meeting organized by the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce.
He complimented Gov. Brian Kemp for keeping everyone informed. He said that Liberty County is experiencing some of the same problems as the rest of the nation.
“There’s been a shortage of testing equipment and protective gear for our frontline people,” he said. “This is being worked on, but it is bad. I honestly believe that as more tests are administered, we will see that there are more people infected. So, we have to follow the rules of social distancing.”
Williams said state legislators approved the spending of $100 million out of the state’s “rainy-day” funds to combat the pandemic.
Williams said he underwent testing after discovering a senate colleague had tested positive for COVID-19.
I did the nasal test,” he said. “It was inserted into the nasal cavity and it goes up quite a way. I don’t care how big and tough you are, it breaks the tear ducts loose. You won’t like it, but it is not a prolonged procedure. It’s a quick test.”
He got the results back Tuesday, and learned he tested negative for COVID-19. But Williams added that he placed himself in quarantine while waiting for the results.
“I didn’t want to take a chance and I certainly did not want to do what I am asking people not to do,” he said.
Williams said if it were up to him, he would close the state borders.
“I think the governor is doing a good job… A couple of things I would urge that would not be popular…first we need to close the whole state down for at least a week to 10 days. Of course, we need to have more testing and that is not the state’s fault. We need testing and we have to have the equipment. Our health providers need to have the things necessary to keep them safe. But overall, the state is doing just about all it can do. The federal government needs to give us some test kits.”
He urged religious leaders to abide by the social distancing policies, restricting the amount of people in their church and having them stay at least 6-feet apart or broadcast services.
He also said Kemp’s decision to close schools until April 24, “Was a smart move by the Governor.”
“Unfortunately, far too many have not,” he said. “And there can be no slacking on these rules until the all clear is given. We have to do what is asked of us.”
Williams acknowledged the pandemic has been destructive to many professions in Liberty County and across the state.
He said it is unfortunate the crisis is hurting entrepreneurs and the economy, but closures were necessary to prevent the spread. He said essential functions will continue to remain open throughout the pandemic.
Several small business owners participating in the teleconference asked if their business would be considered essential services. Williams said the government is trying to avoid opening up a Pandora’s Box.
“Everybody thinks they are essential and rightfully so,” he said. “But we have to be very careful in what we open up because there will others who will say they are essential too. It’s a tough call.”
Williams thanked the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, Hinesville Police Department, EMS and everyone in healthcare for their work during the pandemic. He was asked if places that sold liquor for on premise consumption such as bars would be allowed to sell closed containers of beer or wine curbside as is being allowed in other states. Under the current county emergency declaration bars and nightclubs must remain closed.
Williams said he didn’t have an answer for the question. He asked all the business owners in on the call to submit a list of comments and concerns to him so he could begin discussions with the governor.
He also said called for unity.
“I’ve tried not to make this pandemic political and I won’t,” he said. “We all have to come together and leave the labels at the door and do what is necessary to be successful. We have to tell people the truth, give them what they need to keep their families safe. This thing is far from over. Follow the rules and hunker down. If you don’t have to go out don’t go out. That is the only thing that stops it.”