White House: Stronger Efforts Needed In Georgia As Community Spread Picks Up

The Trump administration says Georgia must step up its efforts to slow the COVID-19 pandemic as it continues to gain steam in the state.

The latest report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, obtained by WABE, says there are early indications of “expanding community spread.”

“Georgia continues to see an increase in COVID-19 cases, increase in test positivity, and no declines in new hospital admissions week over week,” the report reads.

The document says new infections rose in percent in the week leading up to Oct. 25, while test positivity grew just .5%.

It also points out that nearly all Georgia hospitals reported either new confirmed or new suspected COVID patients each day during the same time period.

“We never really got community transmission down to low levels here,” said Ben Lopman, an epidemiologist at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. 

Even though other states are currently seeing more-intense surges in disease spread than Georgia, Lopman says they’re also starting in better positions.

“Places that got their outbreak under control, if they’re seeing a winter surge, it’s starting off from much lower levels.”

The White House recommends mitigation efforts—wearing masks and “avoiding crowds in public and social gatherings in private”—should be ramped up in places where coronavirus infections are rising. It says more than half the counties in Georgia meet that criteria.

The suggestions come just a few days before Gov. Brian Kemp’s latest coronavirus executive order is set to expire just before midnight Saturday. 

The public health state of emergency, which Kemp first declared in April and gives the state broad powers to conduct its pandemic response, expires in early November.