ATLANTA — The coronavirus pandemic has forced the public to change its way of life drastically, in ways likely never seen before. 

Bars, restaurants and businesses have closed, schools have gone virtual and much of the workforce has been forced to work online.

The measures come as communities implement social distancing recommendations from public health experts to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

While it has caused a major disruption to everyday life, Dr. Kathleen Toomey with the Georgia Department of Public Health said the measures are working.

"The social distancing began in some places earlier than others, and places like Rome (Georgia) which had some of the earlier high case rates, and we saw that related to an outbreak related to church attendance that was a large gathering, we have seen now that the cases seem to be leveling off but it takes a minute," she said.

Many communities across the metro area have issued states of emergencies, with some requesting their citizens shelter in place for 14 days to help flatten the curve. The virus, Toomey said, has an incubation period of about two weeks long. The goal of the orders, she said, is to help slow the spread from person-to-person. 

"The idea isn't we're going to prevent every case, but we'll slow the spread," Toomey explained. "So, you're not going to see immediate action."

It's vital, she added, to help keep the strain off the healthcare system, so that patients who need critical care can get it.

"You want to keep people out of the hospitals, flooding the hospitals in a way that we can't care for people, and that's what you're seeing in Italy and other parts of Europe," Toomey added.

Gov. Brian Kemp has issued a statewide order for all vulnerable populations to shelter-in-place, though it doesn't apply to everyone in the state. As for why, Kemp said he's leaving it up to the local officials to decide what works for them.

RELATED: Kemp on why there's no statewide shelter-in-place order: I'm letting local officials take the lead

Toomey said that strategy will still likely have an impact. 

"What's good for Atlanta - which is I believe the correct thing that Mayor Bottoms did, may not be the correct thing for these other areas," Toomey said. "And if you look at CDC's guidelines, the guidelines are tailored to the community ... and how things are spreading. So, it depends on the community."

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