South Fulton implements mask mandate as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations rise

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Emory's Dr. Neil Winawer on mask mandates

Emory University researcher Dr. Neil Winawer delves into the debate over mask mandates. Students are returning to schools and many are required to wear a face covering.

South Fulton joins the growing list of cities across Georgia implementing a mask mandate as new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to climb.

The emergency mask ordinance adopted Tuesday by the city council requires everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to "wear masks in public places, including stores, schools, restaurants, and other buildings and public spaces."

The city said it is a temporary measure and will be addressed again at its next meeting on August 24.

SEE ALSO: Fulton commission to discuss COVID-19 vaccine mandate for county employees

"Across the nation and here in the metro area, we’ve seen a significant resurgence in the number of COVID cases among those who have not been vaccinated," Mayor William "Bill" Edwards was quoted as saying in a release following the ordinance’s passage. "Wear your masks a little bit longer. Please get vaccinated if you have not done so already. You’ll ensure your own safety and the wellbeing of others."

The ordinance does not apply to private property or in private vehicles. It also excludes children under 10 and those who may have an underlying medical condition preventing them from wearing a mask. It also does not apply to those eating or drinking.

SEE ALSO: Group demands Georgia universities require masks and vaccines

Violating the ordinance a first time will get someone a $25 fine and $50 for each additional violation.

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Mask mandate could make a comeback in Athens-Clarke County

Commissioners are set to discuss reinstituting the mandate using a CDC data point as a trigger. The area's COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed over the past week.

SEE ALSO: South Georgia hospitals are filling up quickly, as delta variant spreads

Athens, Savannah, and Atlanta have passed similar measures in recent weeks as new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have climbed. According to data provided by the Georgia Department of Public Health, the two-week average for new cases daily has climbed above 3,000 for the first time since February to 3,134. Hospitalizations as of Tuesday afternoon were at 3,625, the GDPH said. These numbers have been on an increase since the Fourth of July weekend.

But Georgia's vaccination effort saw a major milestone on Tuesday having distributed more than 9 million doses or about 55.8% of the state's population eligible to receive the vaccine, the GDPH reports. As of Tuesday afternoon, 4,253,772 or 46.1% of the population was fully vaccinated, the GDPH said.

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