Gov. Brian Kemp said Friday he doesn’t plan to impose new restrictions or require the use of masks to combat the spread of the coronavirus in Georgia, as he tried to balance a new increase of confirmed cases of the disease while trying to justify his decision to rollback limits.
The Republican said mandating masks is a “bridge too far for me right now” and said the state continues to “hold our own” in the quest to contain the disease, citing increased troves of life-saving personal protection equipment and testimony from hospital executives encouraged by new treatments.
“I’m certainly not imposing new restrictions right now. I think what we have on the books has done very well for us,” said Kemp at a media briefing outside a testing facility in Gwinnett County, where there’s been a recent spike in cases of the disease.
The hospitalization rate of the disease in Georgia is climbing and the state hit new daily coronavirus case records on four days this week.
Some of the largest spikes have occurred in rural counties in south and West Georgia over the last few weeks, and in recent days metro Atlanta counties have experienced increases.
An Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis showed adults under 30 make up the fastest growing group of new infections, calling into question whether the state can keep its economy open while also keeping the virus at bay.
The governor said “miraculously” there doesn’t appear to be a link between the spread of the disease and protests over race and justice that have brought thousands to the streets, but he said he was particularly concerned about a broader rise in cases in younger people.
“The summer has approached. More people are getting out. That’s certainly created an uptick in cases, not only Georgia but around the country,” he said. “The younger population are starting to realize that they’ve got to be careful, too.”
Asked specifically about the use of masks, Kemp said he was concerned there was no widespread “public buy in” to a requirement while noting that he dons protective gear in public and private.