Georgia is seeing a rise in price gouging amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease known as COVID-19, Gov. Brian Kemp told reporters during a video conference call on Tuesday.
The far-ranging update covered a wide range of topics, from medical preparedness to the impact on Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Kemp also told reporters that Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has reported to him that there is an “uptick in price gouging reports” coming into Carr’s office amid the outbreak.
“The biggest categories have been with food and water at grocery-type stores, retail outlets,” Kemp said.
There have been 29 cases of price gouging reported to the Attorney General’s Office. Most of those cases were reported to the state on Monday, after a weekend where shoppers rushed to stores to buy supplies amid recommendations of social distancing from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But the governor said the price gouging also goes beyond food and water.
“We’re also hearing some interesting things about testing for the coronavirus with certain sites charging up to $300 for the test and the mail-in fee and getting the results back,” Kemp said. “We just want to encourage Georgians that if they feel like they need a test, to please call their doctor and get that information and work out the protocol for doing that.
“Certainly people can pay for individual tests if they would like, but the information that’s coming from their doctor, from the Georgia Department of Public Health and other government agencies is really the best place to learn about who needs to be tested and where you can go to do that to make sure that you’re not being taken advantage of.”
Other areas that Kemp touched on include the state’s institutions of higher learning moving to all online courses except for students who need in-person interaction with a professor, such as medical clinical studies, and state Schools Superintendent Richard Woods’ announcement that milestones testing and attendance requirements for schools will be suspended.
Hartsfield-Jackson, meanwhile, is seeing a drop-off in the number of people passing through their airport, as well as the number of flights taking place daily.
“The passengers in the airport is down 40%,” Kemp said. “The airport (on Monday) ran 2,400 flights. (Tuesday), the airport will run 2,200.”
Kemp said Hartsfield-Jackson has taken steps to avoid issues seen in other airports around the country, where large crowds have been piling up as people disembark planes, particularly international flights arriving in Atlanta.
“As international flights from hot zones arrive, airport officials screen people on the plane before disembarkation to prevent groups congregating in hallways and corridors,” Kemp said. “I want to applaud the airport for all of the things that they have done, the strategic things they’ve laid out and the way they’re handling these folks that have been coming back in. It’s been a very seamless process compared to other airports around the country and I certainly congratulate (airport General Manager John Selden) and his team, as well as the hardworking folks from borders and customs and TSA agents and other people that are dealing with that situation.”