President Donald Trump said he told Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp that he “disagreed strongly” with Kemp’s decision to begin allowing some nonessential businesses to reopen.
What We Know:
- Speaking at a daily White House briefing Wednesday evening, Trump said he told Kemp he had misgivings over the governor’s plan but would not stand in his way. A spokeswoman for Kemp did not immediately respond to requests for comments.
- Without testing and tracking capabilities, experts said Georgia risks a quick rebound of the COVID-19 illness as Kemp allows some businesses to reopen in coming days. The Republican governor’s decision has been questioned because the state has yet to show continuing progress in those areas, and it could be difficult to catch up.
- Georgia has ranked in the bottom 1% per capita in testing. After expanding capacity, the number of tests administered in Georgia had plateaued between 3,500 to 4,000 a day. However, on Wednesday, the state reported almost 6,000 tests over 24 hours, with Kemp saying on a conference call with Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler that Georgia was “really ramping up” its capacity.
“There are a lot of people that are hurting really bad right now on the financial end of things – our hard-working Georgians. And we’re trying to do all we can to allow them to start moving back into the work force in a limited and safe way.” – Kemp
- Critics have questioned Kemp’s adherence to Trump’s reopening guidelines, which recommend 14 days of declining new infections before moving to the reopening phase Kemp has called for. On Friday, elective medical procedures will resume and barbershops, nail salons, and gyms will reopen with restrictions. Limited in-restaurant dining will resume Monday.
- The stakes on Georgia’s ability to test and monitor are high. Many businesses and workers are holding back for fear of illness.
- Dewond Brown, 42, was laid off in March from an Atlanta-area restaurant. With concern about his high blood pressure, he advised would not go back if his employer reopened. He said he would want to know coworkers tested negative and see a sharp drop in new cases first.
- Questioned about what Kemp calls a “measured approach,” national coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx has called on local officials to follow the guidelines “the best they can” and make sure “the public is completely protected”.
- Augusta University President Brooks Keel said, “We’re not going to be in a position in the near future to test everyone in Georgia who wants to be tested.” State Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey vowed Georgia will expand its ability to “aggressively” trace the contacts of infected people. “This is the way we’re going to keep spread from occurring, even as we begin to gradually open up the state,” Toomey said.
- The state has not said how many people are tracing contacts now, how many it seeks, or how quickly the state’s 18 public health districts can ramp up. Toomey and Kemp said the state will use a cellphone app to track infected people and ask those people to voluntarily share cellphone data so that the state can find other contacts.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told reporters that Georgia and other states cannot simply flip a switch and tell their businesspeople to “go”. When asked what he would advise Kemp, Fauci said: “I would tell him he should be careful.”