White House says Georgia now leads nation in rate of new virus cases

Gov. Brian Kemp

The White House Coronavirus Task Force said Georgia remains in the red zone for severity of the outbreak as measured by rate of case growth and test positivity.

“Georgia’s small gains are fragile and statewide progress will require continued, expanded, and stronger mitigation efforts, including in all open schools,” according to the White House report.

Many local schools systems have also reopened for in-person instruction, though infections have so far led to temporary school closures like in Cherokee and Paulding counties, pictures of which went viral a few weeks ago.

A team of Georgia Tech and Stanford University researchers, meanwhile, rated Georgia through Sunday as having the highest per-capita circulating infection rate in the nation, followed by Florida and Louisiana.

The task force continues to recommend Georgia close bars and gyms and restrict indoor dining at restaurants to one-quarter capacity in the highest risk counties. Social gatherings, which are now capped at 50 people in Georgia, should be limited to 10 or fewer people, even within families.

Gov. Brian Kemp made modest concessions to his long-stated objection to a mask mandate, but has resisted retreating from Georgia’s limits on restaurants, businesses and gatherings.

The World Health Organization and White House guidelines call for sustained positivity rates of 5% or less to get the virus under control.

Current hospitalizations also have declined from a peak of 3,200 on July 30 to 2,596 reported on Tuesday.

But deaths have followed the spike in new cases. Georgia reported 461 net new deaths last week, a new weekly high.

Read the task force's complete findings HERE

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