SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Gov. Brian Kemp is pushing back after a recent White House Coronavirus Task Force report that Georgia leads the United States in the rate of new COVID-19 cases.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first shared the Aug. 16 task force report which states that Georgia is in the red zone for cases (indicating more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population) and for test positivity (indicating a rate above 10%).
The White House ranks Georgia first for new cases per capita, with 216 cases per 100,000 people between Aug. 8 and Aug. 14, compared to the national average of 112 per 100,000.
Kemp suggested the task force report was leaked perhaps for political reasons and called the AJC’s reporting one-sided and biased.
During a press conference Wednesday, a reporter for another Atlanta news outlet pointed to the fact that while the AJC reported the data, it came from the White House.
“No, this is a report that was leaked to the AJC and they didn’t write about all the numbers. You’re not being truthful with people,” Kemp rebutted.
“All I’m asking for is Georgians to get all the information,” he said. “If we’re the highest percent capita…right now, that’s because Texas and Florida and Arizona and some of the other states that we’re peaking a week or two ago are on the [decline] just like we are.”
The governor argues that there is good news to share about the COVID-19 data.
His office says the seven-day average of cases is down by 26% and that current hospitalizations are also decreasing, down nearly 19% in a week.
The seven-day average of positive tests is down to 9.4%, according to Kemp’s office.
Still, the White House report states that “Georgia’s small gains are fragile and statewide progress will require continued, expanded, and stronger mitigation efforts, including in all open schools.”
Recommendations from the task force include a mask mandate for counties with 50 or more active cases, closing bars in all counties with rising test percent positivity, limiting indoor dining to 25% capacity and ensuring social gatherings are limited to 10 or fewer people.
“The president and the vice president say it every week: they’re supporting the governor’s to make the decisions in their state,” Kemp said.
“We take their recommendations but it doesn’t mean that every governor is going to follow every single one of them,” he added.
Kemp continues to ask Georgians to wear a mask in public, practice social distancing and personal hygiene, and following his executive order.