Fully Reopening Georgia’s Economy Safely

Fully Reopening Georgia’s Economy Safely

Fully Reopening Georgia’s Economy Safely

PRESS RELEASE

Today, the Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) released the following recommendations for governments and schools to adopt to safely return to normal during the COVID-19 crisis. These recommendations come on the heels of President Trump’s announcement that states should begin reopening the economy at their own pace beginning May 1st. GCO will be releasing further recommendations in the near future.

1. Establish a Georgia Task Force on the Economy and Education

We encourage state leaders to put together a task force on reopening the economy. This task force will invite business leaders to submit industry-specific guidelines on how they will operate safely in a restrictive environment until the threat is over, such as when a vaccine is found. These business leaders will receive guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Georgia’s Commissioner of Public Health. Gov. Kemp can then use these guidelines to loosen restrictions in a safe manner. In addition, GCO recommends that the governor consider modifications to his shelter-in-place order to allow people to shop, a vital step for businesses to rebound successfully.

Second, we recommend another task force providing advice to families and school districts on facilitating remote learning. This task force should also create a plan and timetable for the safe return to brick-and-mortar schools in a restrictive environment. We also recommend that school systems develop a plan to ensure students are caught up on schoolwork they might have missed. Additionally, school systems should prepare for COVID-19 outbreaks during the 2020-2021 school year and be ready to return to remote learning when and if that occurs, including a plan to assist students with limited internet access and limited access to appropriate technology.

 

2. Tap Into Civil Society Resources

Now is the time for civil society to work with government to plan out the reopening of our economy. Workers are being hurt because of forced closures, and we must focus particularly on individuals in vulnerable sectors of our society who could be working now but are unable. Our small businesses are hurting, too. A recent survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported that one-in-four small businesses are on the brink of closure and half are considering a temporary shutdown.

In this environment, civil society is more important than ever through nonprofits, community organizations, and churches. We recommend the state of Georgia tap into these resources through coalitions such as GCO’s Hiring Well, Doing Good initiative that matches local businesses with workers.

 

3. Working with Neighboring States

We are seeing positive examples of other states forming regional coalitions to fight the coronavirus. The Georgia government should consider working with neighboring states. For example, the Port of Savannah is close to the South Carolina border, and many people work at the Port and live in the Palmetto State. It would make sense for these two state governments to coordinate reopening this area at the same time.

Quote from GCO President and CEO Randy Hicks

“We are in unprecedented times, and we recognize the suffering from those affected directly by the disease, but also by those impacted by the mass closure of our economy, schools, and way of life. The time has come to create actionable items for reopening Georgia. No recovery plan is without risk, but we must weigh the risk and rely on health and business professionals to do so. Now is the time for everyone to come together to explore solutions that protect our neighborhoods and respond to community needs.”

VIDEO: Shelter-In-Place Is Extended But There Is Good News

VIDEO: Shelter-In-Place Is Extended But There Is Good News

VIDEO: Shelter-In-Place Is Extended But There Is Good News

We learned this week that Gov. Kemp was extending the shelter-in-place mandate for all Georgians and that the election was being postponed. Buzz shares all of the changes happening in the state, as well as some good news.

Watch Buzz’s weekly update:

VIDEO: Georgia’s Response To COVID 19, Voting By Mail, & Vital Resources

VIDEO: Georgia’s Response To COVID 19, Voting By Mail, & Vital Resources

VIDEO: Georgia’s Response To COVID 19, Voting By Mail, & Vital Resources

With stay-at-home ordinances in place, many Georgian’s are wondering what is next.  GCO’s Vice President of Public Policy, Buzz Brockway, shares resources on how you should plan to vote by mail, stay healthy, and what we can expect next in response from government leadership.

VIDEO: Elections, Paycheck Protection, Learning Resources, and more.

VIDEO: Elections, Paycheck Protection, Learning Resources, and more.

VIDEO: Elections, Paycheck Protection, Learning Resources, and more.

While the Georgia legislature takes a hiatus, there is a lot happening around the state.  GCO’s Vice President of Public Policy, Buzz Brockway, shares valuable information on what you can expect with the election, new help for businesses, and additional learning resources for those attempting school from home.

Coronavirus And Its Teachable Moments

Coronavirus And Its Teachable Moments

Coronavirus And Its Teachable Moments

This too shall pass.

At times, it may not feel like it, but the fact is that these are moments in time. We are a resilient people. We are going to get through this—and we actually are getting through this. When chaos happens we learn things about ourselves. Sometimes the dwell on the ugly things, but good things are happening and we simply need to learn from them.

Here are a few opportunities and lessons learned that will help us shape a better future for everybody:


1. A Job Is More Than A Job

What a difference a few weeks makes. Just a month ago, unemployment was at 3.1% and the economy was booming. Now many  face financial uncertainties for their businesses and for their households caused by closures and lockdowns. For many the feeling of hopelessness is new, but it proves the power that a job and financial provision can bring. When we are driven by purpose, hope is restored.

It’s easy to villainize those who want to  increase jobs as callous individuals only interested in the “almighty dollar.” Now we can see a job brings purpose, hope, dreams, and a sense of dignity. Work is an important part of our sense of well being.

 

a family playing on the couch2. We Were Meant for Relationship

Social distancing and lockdowns are making us appreciate the need and rewards strong relationships bring.

During a crisis that asks us to maintain distance, people are finding new ways to connect.

Why?  Because we need it for our well-being. It is why we must continue to work to strengthen family and interpersonal relationships in all communities. Many people are taking online classes or learning new activities to bring us closer. While many of us had models for healthy relationships and interactions, not everyone has had that luxury. And after this is over, we will need to continue to foster these activities. Moving forward we must make sure that all people have access to the social capital that many of us are learning to appreciate on a new level.

 

3. Accessible Education For All

Many of us are experiencing the struggle of educating our kids. We are learning what it is like to try to find the best tools to keep our kids learning. 

While a great resource, online education isn’t as readily available as we hoped. More importantly, while some students have moved to online options, not all can. 

The lack of equitable educational opportunities will lead to change. The solution going forward will be modular options in education. Not all kids need to go into a physical 22-person classroom to get educational needs met. Ones that can should continue to do so, but we must open up our thinking to ensure every person has equal access to high-quality education.

 

a volunteer with a donation box4. As Necessary as Government is, Our Communities Hold the Answer

Yes, government has played a huge role in keeping society moving with stimulus packages and mobilizing services, but where we really flourish is in community action. From nonprofits providing services, feeding the needy, and connecting communities in an online environment to businesses providing the industry needed to keep goods flowing, all are examples of what happens when we work together to fight against a common enemy.

There will be thousands of stories coming out of this pandemic of neighbors supporting neighbors, foster families stepping up to help children forgotten during hardships, local community organizations providing services typically served by government, and businesses serving despite shackles of a lockdown as they await a return to normalcy.

We will persevere and we will be better.

THE CENTER SQUARE – SNAP applications in Georgia jump sharply during COVID-19 crisis

THE CENTER SQUARE – SNAP applications in Georgia jump sharply during COVID-19 crisis

Applications to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have increased by 79 percent in less than a week in Georgia amid the COVID-19 outbreak, state officials said.

The health crisis, which has led to the social distancing requirements and shelter-in-place orders in places around the state, also has caused a spike in unemployment claims and fears over food security…

Representatives for the Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO), a solutions-based think tank focused on community building through public policy, said they expect the number of Georgians who depend on government assistance to continue to grow in the coming months.

“The health toll is the most severe, but the economic consequences are also deeply felt,” GCO president and CEO Randy Hicks said.

 

GCO spokesman Corey Burres said long-term reforms need to be set in place to drive faster recovery.

“Obviously the longer our communities face financial hardship, the less money will be available for government interventions,” he said.

Hicks said the most impact could come from community support.

“We believe that the most good will happen through our local communities, where neighbors help neighbors,” he said.

Read the full article here