Georgia Gov. Kemp under fire for comment on COVID-19 transmission

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Georgia’s governor was under fire Thursday for remarks he made on COVID-19 during a press conference the day prior.

The criticism wasn’t necessarily about Gov. Brian Kemp’s recent executive order or the time it took to get there — but his reasoning behind it.

What caught national attention, as he said Wednesday: “finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs.”

“So what we’ve been telling people, from directives from the CDC for weeks now, that if you start feeling bad, stay home,” Kemp elaborated, “Those individuals could’ve been infecting people before they ever felt bad but we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours. And as [Dr. Kathleen Toomey] told me, she goes, ‘This is a game-changer for us.'”

Toomey, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, butted: “You could tell from the pattern of spread and we knew from the cruise ships that there’s likely asymptomatic transmission.”

“CDC guidance and our own testing patterns were to test those with symptoms and so all of our epidemiologic models are based on people with symptoms,” she said.

Similar to the flu virus, someone can be infected with the novel coronavirus and have no symptoms. Many, including politicians and celebrities, argued Thursday that this has been a well-known fact.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website, apparently updated last on Thursday, March 26, states:

The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully known. Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death.

CDC Situation Summary

The Atlanta-based public health institute did, however, publish a study on Wednesday that provided further evidence of presymptomatic transmission based on cases in Singapore.

“Public health officials conducting contact tracing should strongly consider including a period before symptom onset to account for the possibility of presymptomatic transmission,” the study found. “The potential for presymptomatic transmission underscores the importance of social distancing, including the avoidance of congregate settings, to reduce COVID-19 spread.”

Candice Broce, Kemp’s communications director, fired back at the criticism, saying many Democrats were intentionally taking the governor’s words out of context.

“The CDC officially changed its position yesterday,” she argued on Twitter.

“Several members of Mr. McLaurin’s party are making the same, erroneous claim about [Kemp’s] explanation for the statewide shelter in place. They’re omitting details,” she continued. “[The governor] said the CDC changed protocols to reflect asymptomatic transmission for public health officials…not just that asymptomatic transmission occurs.”

Still, on Friday, a shelter-in-place order will go into effect in Georgia in an effort to keep those — symptomatic or not — from spreading COVID-19. Over 5,400 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the state with more than 175 dead.

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