GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Governor Brian Kemp said Friday that he is not planning to make masks mandatory in Georgia.
The news came just hours before the state hit a new daily high, confirming 1,900 new coronavirus cases. The previous high was around 1,700, also this week.
Kemp spoke to Channel 2′s Carol Sbarge during a visit to a testing site at Lilburn First Baptist Church Friday morning.
Officials said they are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of people coming in for testing this week. Coronavirus cases have recently surged in Gwinnett County.
Kemp did wear a mask as he toured the Gwinnett Public Health Department’s testing site, but he said he would not join other states in making it mandatory for people to wear masks in public. At least 18 states have made masks mandatory in the past few weeks.
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“Mandating that I think is a bridge too far for me right now,” Kemp said. “We have to have the public buy-in. Over the last several months, the public has done that. I’ve been demonstrating that myself. It’s a good idea if you’re going out in public.
Kemp said the state is seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases in certain areas, including at a jail and among flooring workers in Dalton. He said he's also concerned about the rising number of cases among young people.
“I think the younger population, the millennials and others are starting to realize they have to be careful too,” Kemp said. “That’s part of our message.”
Kemp said that there is no evidence that the recent uptick in cases is associated with recent protests.
Kemp told Sbarge that he's staying in regular contact with hospital CEOs. He said personal protective supplies in good supply and where there are any shortages, supplies are being sent there.
“We’re not letting our guard down,” Kemp said. “We’ve got to continue to fight the fight hard everyday. We’ve got to continue to jump on the hotspots.”
Kemp urged people to keep practicing social distancing and wear masks as we head into the Fourth of July weekend.
“We have asked our citizens to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem,” Kemp said. “It’s a virus. It’s going to spread. We’re not going to stop if from happening.”
Sbarge talked to one woman who got a test after a relative felt sick and asked her if she thought Kemp should mandate that Georgians wear masks.
“I kind of feel at this point it should (be mandatory) in public places,” Sharon Gotferdson said.
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