Coronavirus cases, deaths in Georgia continue to decline, three weeks after re-opening
'We are headed in the right direction' – Gov. Kemp
Three weeks into the Georgia's coronavirus reopening process, the state continues to post declining new cases and new deaths from the contagion, says GOP Gov. Brian Kemp.
While announcing the encouraging the encouraging numbers, he also urged residents to "remain vigilant" in their fight against the disease.
Georgia became one of the earliest states to move toward reopening its broadly shuttered economy, with Kemp allowing some businesses to re-open on Apr. 24 under restricted conditions.
The state has followed a staggered reopening over the subsequent 20 days. Restaurants, gyms, bowling alleys, salons and other businesses have been allowed to re-open, though bars and live music venues remain closed for the time being.
Kemp was widely criticized last month for the decision. "Atlantic" writer Amanda Mull claimed Georgia was engaging in "an experiment in human sacrifice," while numerous pundits and public officials insisted that the state would soon see a skyrocketing body count due to a second wave of the disease.
Three weeks after that decision, the state's case numbers look encouraging.
The Georgia Department of Public Health's COVID-19 dashboard indicates that both total and absolute numbers of daily cases and deaths have sharply declined since the opening. The seven-day moving average of new cases on Apr. 24 was 747, while average deaths were 35; as of May 13 those numbers had declined to 288 and 13, respectively.
Those reports are as-of-now tentative. The health department on its website warns that "confirmed cases over the last 14 days may not be accounted for due to illnesses yet to be reported or test results may still be pending."
Yet a press release put out by the governor's office on Monday still touts state-level coronavirus data, claiming the government was recording "the lowest number of ventilators in use and COVID-19 positive patients hospitalized in Georgia" since record-keeping began on Apr. 8.
"This data shows that we are headed in the right direction in our battle with COVID-19," Kemp said in the release. "Every day, Georgians are recovering from the virus, freeing up hospital space as we continue to safely reopen our state and ramp up testing and contact tracing."
He added that the state is "not out of the woods yet" and that residents "must remain vigilant in following proper protocols from public health officials."
The encouraging numbers come as other countries report varying levels of second spikes of the outbreak following economic re-openings, raising concerns that similar resurgences may be seen here. On April 20, former journalist Ron Fournier urged readers on Twitter to "mark this day" and wrote that "two and three weeks from now, the Georgia death toll is blood on [Kemp's] hands."
Pressed this week on the apparent decline of cases and deaths in the state, Fournier advised readers to "check back in three weeks."