ATLANTA - Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said in a series of tweets the state will not impose any lockdowns or mask mandates statewide. The tweets come 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.
Kemp took to the social media platform shortly after 3 p.m., when the daily COVID-19 numbers are released by the Georgia Department of Public Health.
"Georgia will not lock down or impose statewide mask mandates," Kemp wrote. "As the first state in the country to reopen over a year ago, we’ve proven that Georgians know how to come together and protect themselves and their loved ones."
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, that includes most of Georgia, especially seven counties singled last week by a non-profit health organization as being in the top 20 "delta danger zones" for the more virulent variant.
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.
"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.
Part of that data emerged last month as a special report by the FOX 5 I-Team. FOX 5 I-Team reporter Randy Travis analyzed data provided by the Georgia Department of Public Health and found that 99.4% of all Georgians hospitalized were either not vaccinated or had not been fully protected. For deaths, it’s even greater: 99.8% died unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.
"My family, myself, and other state leaders have all rolled up their sleeves and gotten their shot. I encourage all Georgians who have concerns or questions to talk to a medical provider and get vaccinated as quickly as possible," Kemp continues.
More than 4.16 million of the state's estimated 10.62 million residents have been vaccinated as of Wednesday afternoon, according to data provided by the GDPH.
Despite those numbers, 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 GDPH.
"Georgians know the risks and they know these safe, effective vaccines are our greatest tool to defeat COVID-19," Kemp concluded.
Since the governor's tweets, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has signed an executive order requiring masks in all public places while indoors.
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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