ATLANTA - Georgia's governor is urging residents to "remain vigilant" in the fight against COVID-19 following a recent spike in confirmed positive cases.
In a video message Wednesday, Gov. Brian Kemp said that while Georgia continues to "make solid progress" in stopping the spread of the virus, the battle is far from over.
"While I'm proud of our swift response and measured steps forward, we cannot grow complacent. This virus is deadly and remains a threat to our great state," Kemp said.
Georgia has conducted more than 839,000 tests at more than 150 testing sites around the state, including 100 percent of nursing home patients, who the governor identified as continuing to be the most at-risk population in this pandemic.
"Our hospitalizations remain low and surge capacity is high," the governor said.
Georgia's rate for positive COVID-19 tests is at 8 percent, which is down from 13 percent on June 1, according to Kemp.
Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed there were close to 8,000 new cases reported over a seven day stretch from June 15-22. The state broke a record on June 20 with 1,800 new confirmed cases, the largest number of positive cases reported in a single day.
The Georiga Department of Public Health attributed the increase to the fact that more people are out and about and widespread testing across the state.
The surge in infections comes nearly two months after Georgia began lifting restrictions April 24 on hair salons, gyms, bowling alleys and other businesses that had been forced to close to slow the virus. Restaurants, retail stores and bars have since reopened as well.
Georgia churches have begun to resume in-person services. Youth sports are also coming back. The Georgia High School Association began Monday allowing high school teams to begin practicing in groups of 50 — though they’re still prohibited from scrimmaging.
Hospitalizations had fallen steadily beginning in April and through May, bottoming out at 783 on June 7. The numbers have marched steadily upward since.
In his message, Kemp urged each Georgian to wear a mask and continue to practice social distancing guidelines provided by public health officials.
"Let's stay vigilant in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19. Wear a mask, practice social distancing, and continue to follow guidance from public health officials. If you have a chronic medical condition, don't skip your doctor's visit," Kemp said. "Reschedule any procedures you put on hold, get a test if you want one. If the Department of Public Health reaches out, we hope you will answer the call. Contact tracing is key as we work to defeat this virus."
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.