Emory University health experts pushing for mandatory masks in Georgia

Lay Guzman stands behind a partial protective plastic screen and wears a mask and gloves as she works as a cashier at a Florida supermarket. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Health experts from Emory University holding a virtual news conference Wednesday urging businesses, state, and local governments in Georgia to mandate face masks as the nation continues to weather the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Wearing a face mask or face covering has been scientifically proven to decrease the transmission,” said Dr. Jonathan Lewin, CEO of Emory Healthcare. 

Health experts say the recent increase of cases in Georgia can be traced back to Memorial Day weekend and they fear the 4th of July weekend could have the same effect. 

Know how the COVID-19 outbreak is impacting Georgia

“Going out to watch the fireworks is not a good thing,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean of Emory University School of Medicine at Grady Health System. 

This comes as Gov. Brian Kemp conducted a flyover tour around the state on Wednesday to urge folks to wear masks.

While many businesses in the state have already mandated masks, the city of Savannah became the first local government to make it a requirement.

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“We’ve learned at our own hospital that when we strongly encouraged [masks] we still saw community spread,” Lewin said. “When we required masks, we saw our infection rates within our workforce plummet.” 

“Science will get us out of this with the vaccine studies but we really need society to step up,” del Rio said.