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This Southern state is a case study in how not to respond to coronavirus

Published Aug 19th, 2020 3:40PM EDT
Coronavirus cases
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  • Coronavirus cases are spiking in Georgia to such a degree that, by one reckoning, the state is now facing the biggest coronavirus surge in the US right now.
  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has staunchly resisted imposing a statewide face mask mandate during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • According to Johns Hopkins University, there have now been almost 5.5 million reported coronavirus infections in the US, along with more than 172,000 deaths.

Most Americans admit that the country’s response to the coronavirus crisis, which has resulted in an inexorable rise in new coronavirus cases for several months now, makes them feel embarrassed and that President Trump should be doing more to fight the pandemic.

That’s according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS, with almost 7 in 10 Americans confessing they feel embarrassed about the US to the pandemic. Results from the poll, which was conducted August 12-15 among a random national sample of 1,108 adults, come the same week as the COVID-19 crisis continues to have a profound effect on so many aspects of daily life in the US, from the on-again, off-again attempt at reopening schools (with Notre Dame among the schools being forced to suspend in-person classes following a coronavirus case surge) to the somewhat surreal, virtual Democratic National Convention taking place this week. Meantime, new data has emerged showing where the next big coronavirus hotspot is in the US — and it appears to be in the South.

As of the time of this writing, the COVID-19 Risk Levels map maintained by the Harvard Global Health Institute shows that Georgia has the highest seven-day average of daily new cases, with 29.9 for every 100,000 people. According to the map, that means Georgia is now in a “tipping point” zone for which new stay-at-home orders are required.

Florida is almost as bad as Georgia’s numbers, with 28.6 daily new cases per 100,000 people. The rest of the country is in one of two zones, either representing “accelerated spread” of the virus, or simply “community spread” of the virus that’s occurring, with the latter only requiring test and trace programs compared to the additional necessity of stay-at-home orders.

The situation in Georgia, meanwhile, should not come as a surprise.

Stay-at-home orders expired in the state back in April, and not only does the state not have a face mask mandate — Gov. Brian Kemp actually tried to sue the city of Atlanta (at first) to keep it from establishing one at the local level. He withdrew the suit last week, though, also signing a new order that lets local governments impose this requirement in their area, if they choose to, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

Kemp’s order also keeps in place the ban in Georgia on large gatherings and other coronavirus-related business requirements through August 31.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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