Coronavirus, Health

White House Warns Small Gatherings Are Fueling The COVID-19 Pandemic in Georgia

Detail of a ventilator connected to a patient infected with COVID-19 in an intensive care unit. Active coronavirus-related hospitalizations have declined in Georgia, but at a slower rate than they’d been falling previously.
Detail of a ventilator connected to a patient infected with COVID-19 in an intensive care unit. Active coronavirus-related hospitalizations have declined in Georgia, but at a slower rate than they’d been falling previously.
Credit Bernat Armangue / Associated Press
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As Georgia’s efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus continue to stall, the Trump administration warns that small gatherings are fueling the pandemic in the state.

The latest report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, obtained by WABE, says Georgia “continue[s] to see community spread” in “social … and family gatherings” where people let their guard down and don’t follow public health guidance.

“People must remember that seemingly uninfected family members and friends may be infected but asymptomatic,” the report reads. “Exposure to asymptomatic cases can easily lead to spread as people unmask in private gatherings.”

The report says new COVID-19 cases and the percentage of coronavirus diagnostic results that return positive results have remained stable or grown in the week leading up to Oct. 11.

During that period, new coronavirus infections rose 4%, according to the document. That’s roughly in line with recent numbers from the Georgia Department of Public Health for a similar time frame.

WABE’s analysis of state numbers shows newly confirmed cases increased 7% in a two-week period leading up to Oct. 13. During that time, active coronavirus-related hospitalizations declined, but at a slower rate than they’d been falling previously.

While these metrics are far below where they were during Georgia’s summer surge of infections, one of the state’s leading public health voices says they’re still not where they need to be.

“I’ve been encouraged that the hospitalizations and the number of cases have gone down from their high peak of several weeks ago, but they’re still too high,” said Dr. James Curran, head of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.

The White House report says Georgia can work to drive its cases down by encouraging “outdoor activities and [ensuring] mask and physical distancing messages for all residents, both in public and private spaces.”

Georgia’s slowing progress comes as other parts of the country—like the Midwest—have seen a dramatic rise in new coronavirus infections and as the pandemic seems to be gaining speed nationwide.

The Center for Public Integrity reports not a single state remains in the Task Force’s “green zone” category indicating low levels of disease transmission.

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