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Instead, the Republican governor tried to encourage the voluntary wearing of masks, notably by telling fans that reducing infections caused by wearing masks would make college football possible.
Kemp’s decision is likely to anger local authorities in the communities that had acted, including Atlanta, Augusta, Savannah, Rome and the hometown of the County Governor of Athens-Clarke. Overall, orders for masks on Wednesday covered 1.4 million of Georgia’s 10 million residents.
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Savannah mayor Van Johnson was the first local official to challenge Kemp and order masks, and said the police would start writing $ 500 quotes to businesses that didn’t enforce the law.
“It’s officially official. Governor Kemp doesn’t care about us, ”Johnson wrote on Twitter Wednesday evening. “Each man and each woman for himself. Ignore the science and survive as best you can. “
The new Kemp order also prohibits local governments from requiring masks on public property, which negates the demands that some governments have placed on citizens to wear masks inside city and county buildings.
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Kemp was among the first governors to loosen previous restrictions, and although infections declined for weeks afterward, they began to increase in June. Figures from Wednesday showed that nearly 2,800 people were hospitalized statewide with COVID-19 respiratory disease, the highest on record and a number that has almost doubled since the beginning of the month. The state reports that 84% of critical beds available in hospitals are used, although some hospitals say they have opened more space and more space.
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Georgia recorded a total of nearly 128,000 confirmed infections and nearly 3,100 deaths in total on Wednesday, although experts say many more people contract the disease but are never tested. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. Most recover, but some may fall seriously ill or die.
Local officials and Democrats argued that cities and counties have the power to move forward because Kemp did not specifically ban orders for masks. His orders prevented local governments from promulgating restrictions on coronaviruses beyond his orders, and he called warrants local masks “legally unenforceable.”
“It is becoming increasingly clear from medical and scientific data that the transmission of COVID-19 droplets and aerosols represents a huge risk for the community, so I decided to supplement the governor’s order with a requirement of local mask to ensure greater community security, “Kelly Girtz, mayor of the unified government of the county of Athens-Clarke, said in an email.
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The back and forth comes as increasing hospitalizations force the state to seek new hospital beds to manage the record number of people admitted with the virus. The Kemp administration on Tuesday signed an agreement with Piedmont Healthcare, one of four major hospital systems in the Atlanta area, to open 62 beds in a new tower at the main hospital of the Atlanta system. The state provides nurses to fill the beds under contract with a private recruitment firm. A Kemp spokesman on Wednesday could not immediately say how much the state was paying Piedmont or how long the deal would last.
The Republican governor previously announced plans to reopen an overflow hospital at the Georgia World Congress Center mammoth in downtown Atlanta.
The death trend had bottomed out in Georgia on July 9, when the state had averaged just 12 new deaths a day in the previous week. Recently reported deaths sometimes occur weeks earlier. But the trend in deaths has since increased, following the upward trends in cases and hospitalizations that began in early June. Georgia recorded an average of 24 deaths in the past week, the highest level in almost four weeks.
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On Wednesday, Kemp extended parts of its executive orders governing the state’s response to the pandemic until July 31. It extends ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, renews rules on how businesses can operate and orders residents of nursing homes, residents of retirement homes and other people with medical conditions to stay on site. The general state of emergency will continue at least on August 11.
Other governments are taking action on their own property. Macon-Bibb County closed park pavilions, sports grounds, basketball courts and playgrounds on Tuesday to reduce the spread of the virus.
Kemp said on Wednesday that the federal government had sent 32,600 vials of remdesivir, an antiviral drug, which has proven effective in helping those infected. Kemp said that was enough to treat up to 5,400 patients. The governor said that from now on, hospitals will generally be able to purchase the drug directly, although smaller federal shipments to Georgia will continue.
© 2020 The Canadian Press