Governor fires back on reports Georgia’s numbers aren’t going down

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp said the state is making progress fighting COVID-19, but it's no time to relax.

In an exclusive interview, Kemp told Channel 2 anchor Justin Farmer that cases, the percent of positive tests and hospitalizations are all down.

He’s firing back at some media and partially, at a White House task force report.

“We’re not going to believe everything that we see coming out of some report, whether it’s coming from the White House or public health, or anywhere else. We’re going to make sure that we dig into those numbers and verify those numbers,” Kemp said in response to a White House task force report that recommended Georgia enact a statewide mask mandate.

He said the state's seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases is down 26%, hospitalizations are down 19% and positive tests are down to 9.4%.

He’s also emphasizing Georgia’s rate is going down. That’s the average number of people who will get the virus from one COVID-19 positive person.

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"Our rate, which every epidemiologist in the country will acknowledge that it's if it's over one, you're not controlling the spread. If it's under one, you are controling the spread that has fallen now to 0.85," Kemp said.

Farmer also asked the governor about his tweet this morning that said:

"We are making measurable progress, but the media and radical left continue to attack our state. They don't care about saving lives, protecting jobs, or safeguarding personal freedom. They just want to play pandemic politics."

Kemp said his criticism is aimed at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s reporting on the federal task force’s report and how it focuses on the per capita rate -- which is the number of new cases per 100,000 residents -- was 216 last week, the highest in the United States.

“I just feel like it’s really dishonest for the state’s flagship newspaper not to cover all the numbers and to focus on only the number that will be the worst on the data that they’re seeing that day or that week,” Kemp said.

The AJC sent a statement to Farmer, saying:

“The Atlanta Journal-Constitution summarized a White House report that said Georgia has the highest rate of new cases in the nation. The article included information about a recent decline in new cases and hospitalizations, and in positive test rates. Nearly 5,000 Georgians have died of COVID-19, as our readers know from the statistics we publish daily on our front page and at AJC.com. Attacking factual news reports won’t change the course of this pandemic in Georgia.”

We reached out to the Georgia Department of Public Health for the state’s current new case rate per capita. It is 2,252 per 100,000, according to DPH.