ATLANTA - Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has signed an executive order requiring masks in all public places while indoors. The order comes a few hours after Governor Brian Kemp said he was not going issue any new mask mandates or lockdowns and a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its mask guidelines for fully vaccinated people in public and everyone in K-12 schools.
The mayor’s order requires "all persons in a public place, including private businesses and establishments, to wear a mask or a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when indoors."
"Public health experts overwhelmingly agree, and data has proved, that wearing a face-covering helps slow the spread of this deadly virus," said Mayor Bottoms. "As COVID-19 rates increase, we must remain vigilant, wear a mask, follow CDC guidelines and other measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our communities."
The executive order does not include people eating or drinking, people who are in their homes, or people who have legitimate health conditions preventing them from wearing a mask.
There are penalties for violating the order. The first time is a warning, the second time is a fine of $25, and then $50 for every offense after that.
Earlier this week, the city of Savannah reinstated its mask mandate and several school districts also have said masks will be required during the upcoming school year.
On Tuesday, the CDC recommended vaccinated people wear masks indoors again in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging and that everyone in K-12 schools wears masks, regardless of vaccination status. According to health official data, those areas include both Fulton and DeKalb counties.
Earlier in the day, Gov. Kemp said he would not take any further statewide action in response to the rising number of cases pointing to the fact that most of the new cases and hospitalizations are among those not yet vaccinated.
"The data is clear. Thanks to efforts initiated under the Trump Administration, we have a medical miracle in multiple vaccines that protect from the virus and save lives. Nearly all new COVID hospitalizations in Georgia are among the unvaccinated," Kemp wrote.
The state has seen a steady climb in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since the Fourth of July holiday. As of Wednesday at 3 p.m., nearly 1,700 patients were in the hospital and the two-week average for new cases had climbed to 1,259, numbers not seen since the early part of March, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Health officials are urgently asking everyone who has not gotten one of the vaccines to talk to their health care provider and strongly consider getting one.
To find out more on the vaccine as well as where to get get it, click here.
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