Surgeon General Warning: Georgians must do more to slow the spread of COVID-19


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Much of Georgia remains in the danger zone in terms of contracting COVID-19, according to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force recommends that areas have a green zone, which means a five percent or less transmission rate per 100,000 people.

“But the state of Georgia is in a yellow to red zone for positivity between 9 and 11 percent depending on which study you look at and that’s why we need everyone to embrace public health measures,” Adams told News 3. “Three counties, Fulton, Gwinnett and Cobb, comprise about 25 percent of the cases in the state, and we are most concerned about where you have the highest levels of spread but all of Georgia is near that red zone when you look at averages.”

Two recent health models rated Georgia as the state that now leads in coronavirus exposure.

And the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently published information from the White House Coronavirus Task Force indicating concerns about the high number of transmissions in Georgia. Gov. Brian Kemp has disputed some of those numbers.

Still, the Surgeon General has a warning about transmission in Georgia and says everyone needs to be doing their part to stop the spread of the virus.

“Everyone needs to embrace public health measures,” said Adams. “Remember my three W’s which are 1) Wear a mask, 2) Watch your distance and stay six feet apart and 3) Wash your hands.”

Adams also said the issue of wearing a mask should not be politicized, not mentioning the fact that President Donald Trump has often refused to wear one and many supporters have followed suit. The Surgeon General says the mask issue and the issue of the virus itself should remain solely about health information.

“We need to resist the temptation to frame health information through a political lens because the country is divided, and if you frame health information through a political lens in terms of who you should or you should not vote for then you’re going to be turned off half of the people out there,” said Adams.

“My job isn’t to be Surgeon General for Democrats or Republicans or one party or the other,” he continued, “it’s to be the Surgeon General for the United States and hence my plea to keep the politics out of discussions on health and for people out there to understand that when I’m saying something to you it’s because of the best evidence at this point in time.”

Adams also empathized that younger people who may have no symptoms of coronavirus are driving transmission.

“So we want you to understand that even if you feel like you’re not at high risk you could still be spreading the disease in your community,” he said. “You could still be the cause of someone else dying, which I know no one would want, but you’re also the cause of us not being able to reopen in terms of schools and sports.”

The Surgeon General also pointed to the state of Arizona, which he says buckled down on safety measures about three weeks ago “and were able, in the course of about two to three weeks, to really turn around their case trajectory.”

That’s why Adams is appealing to Georgians to do more. He says in the past Americans have fought and died in wars and come together to make sacrifices.

“All I’m asking people to do is watch their distance and wear a mask for a few months until we can get a vaccine that is safe and effective,” said Adams.

He also said he thinks it’s important not to look back but still, acknowledged mistakes were made at the federal level.

“Well, right now I’m focused on looking forward but I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that no one has come out this mistake-free,” said the Surgeon General. “And again, a lot of it is cast in a political light but there are few countries around the world that handled this perfectly, this virus has humbled us all.”

Adams said the U.S. is much, much larger geographically than New Zealand or Germany — two countries that have seemingly halted transmission. He also said it’s easy to lose focus on the fact that the virus is only about seven months old, but says in that short time, strides have been made in the work toward developing a vaccine.

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