US surgeon general visits Georgia as new COVID-19 cases rise by nearly 3,500

US surgeon general visits Georgia as new COVID-19 cases rise by nearly 3,500

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — The U.S. surgeon general urged Georgians to wear face coverings this Fourth of July holiday weekend and beyond during a daylong visit to the state.

Vice Adm. Jerome M. Adams visited areas of Georgia that are seeing increases in COVID-19 cases, including Gwinnett County, which currently has the most cases of the virus in the state.

Channel 2′s Matt Johnson was there as Adams met with doctors, experts and first responders at the Gwinnett County Health Department.

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Adams’ message was simple: wear a face covering.

“If you wear a face covering and even if you are someone who has COVID and doesn’t know it, it will lessen the chance you spread it to someone else,” Adams said.

Gwinnett has reported 8,600 cases of COVID-19 — the most cases in the state. The Georgia Department of Public Health reported nearly 3,500 new cases of the virus and 22 deaths since Wednesday, breaking a record.

“Yes, there are some places across the country that likely opened too soon. But there are other places that opened appropriately, and people didn’t follow the directions, and the instructions to the guidelines and social distance,” Adams said.

Despite the uptick in cases in Gwinnett, local health officials say there are reasons to be optimistic.

“Our deaths have not increased. We’re actually tied for third for deaths, even though we’re the highest in the state in terms of cases,” said Dr. Audrey Arona, Gwinnett County’s health director.

There’s no statewide requirement to wear a mask, and Adams said it will be up to Gov. Brian Kemp to make that call. But he said a mandate might not be as effective as some think.

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“I think more people will wear one if they understand why they’re doing it. And if you make a mandate, and they don’t understand why, and you haven’t gotten by it, they’re only going to do it when someone is watching,” Adams said.

Adams also pointed to the importance of outreach to minority populations that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

As an appeal to SEC Country, he said the best way to ensure college football comes back in the fall is to wear a face covering to slow the spread of the virus.