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Kemp gives update on Georgia's response to COVID-19

The press conference was held this morning at the state capitol building.

UPDATE: The press conference has concluded. One headline from the presser was that Georgia is now experiencing community transmission of COVID-19. Here's what that means. 

Watch the full press conference, here: https://youtu.be/d7np-8IZg4I 

Original story below

Governor Brian Kemp along with state officials will give an update on the state's fight against COVID-19. It's taking place today at 8:00 a.m. at the state Capitol.

Watch it live on TV on 11Alive, or here on 11Alive.com. We will also be streaming on 11Alive's YouTube channel - www.YouTube.com/11Alive.

Right now, COVID-19 is tearing through Georgia. The number of deaths is trending back up and hospitalizations are climbing. July has brought a record number of cases and a new fight for life in our hospitals. 

More than 131,000 people in Georgia have tested positive for the virus, and more than a third of those were in the month of July alone - 49,984. 

Testing has increased this summer but not at the same rate. The age of those diagnosed has changed. Young people between the ages 18-29 now represent the greatest share of cases. This is a change from the beginning of the virus in Georgia when most cases were among the elderly.

Thursday, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency reported 2,841 active hospitalized patients. That's not the highest number Georgia has seen. In April, there were more than 4,000 patients. But, hospital managers say if hospitalizations spike, that could pose an issue for hospital capacity.

The virus has shown no mercy to those working on the front line. More than 8,000 healthcare workers have been infected by the coronavitus. Fifty-eight have died.

Coronavirus has also exposed disparities in healthcare for communities of color. Health and economic disparities have increased hospitalizations for Black people. There have been outbreaks among the Hispanic population working at poultry factories and farms. 

Through it all, the state has learned... and learned together how to address the virus better.

As cases surged, so has the politics around the virus. Kemp has not issued a mask mandate, instead opting to encourage people to wear masks. Cities across the state have gone a step further by issuing their own mask mandates and more strict restrictions on businesses. As a response, Kemp sued the City of Atlanta.

The lawsuit, filed by Kemp and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, names Mayor Bottoms and the members of the Atlanta City Council. No other cities were named in the lawsuit.  In a statement, a spokesperson for the governor's office said the lawsuit was "on behalf of Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times." 

"These men and women are doing their very best to put food on the table for their families while local elected officials shutter businesses and undermine economic growth," the statement from Kemp said. 

During a public address the next day, Bottoms rejected the governor's order and said that the mandate would stand, adding she is "not concerned" at all about a possible lawsuit. 

"I believe that our city mask ordinance, and I believe those across the state, are defensible, and it is not just my posture but the posture of many mayors across this state that our policies are enforceable and they stand," she said.

Mayor Bottoms also took to Twitter to hit back at the governor, writing

"3104 Georgians have died and I and my family are amongst the 106k who have tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, I have been sued by @GovKemp for a mask mandate. A better use of tax payer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing."

MORE CORONAVIRUS HEADLINES

Gov. Kemp files suit against Mayor Bottoms, City of Atlanta over mask mandate

67 associates at Ansley Golf Club test positive for COVID-19, letter sent to members says

CDC restores COVID-19 hospital data website, but may not update going forward