Kemp begins tour of the state to encourage mask-wearing

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp has a message to all Georgians going into July 4th weekend: wear a mask.

Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach was at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, where Kemp took off this morning for a tour of the state in which he plans to encourage everyone to keep taking proper precautions against the coronavirus.

Kemp is traveling alongside his top health official, Dr. Kathleen Toomey.

[RELATED: Governor says people know what to do to keep COVID-19 cases down]

The governor said that in the last 10 days or so, Georgians have gotten lackadaisical about taking the proper precautions as cases continue to rise. He’s urging people to recommit to wearing a mask, washing hands and practicing social distancing.

“We have to work together to end this pandemic, and we can’t do it without your help,” Kemp said.

Kemp said the next two to three weeks are critical and we need to get cases down if we want to get things under control.

The tour comes on yet another day that Georgia saw a record-breaking number of newly confirmed cases, with nearly 3,000 people infected in 24 hours.

“There’s no doubt, our hospitalizations have increased,” Kemp said. “Thankfully, they are not going up exponentially. It’s worrisome but not alarming at this point and we don’t want it to get alarming.”

Kemp said that thankfully, fewer Georgians are dying from it.

The governor said he doesn’t feel the need to add further restrictions, or put a state-wide mandate in place.

[RELATED: Gov. Brian Kemp says he will not make wearing masks mandatory in Georgia]

“There’s a lot of people that believe a mask mandate would work,” Kemp said. “I don’t think we’re going to have to get to that point. We shouldn’t need a mask mandate for people to do the right thing.”

The state is now delivering hundreds of thousands of masks to school systems and local governments around the state.

Kemp said that if people don’t start wearing masks, fall sports could be in jeopardy. He said the state may cancel all college football games.

“If people, especially young people, don’t start wearing masks when they go out in public and our numbers keep rising, that’s going to be a tall ask,” Kemp said. “But if we hunker down right now and dig in for the next two to three weeks and get this turned in the right direction like it was...”

No college football could cripple local universities, Forbes Magazine says. University of Georgia football brings in about $125 million a year.

“If you want to have your football season this fall, wear a mask,” Kemp said.

Kemp’s visited Columbus, Albany and Valdosta Wednesday and will visit Brunkswick, Augusta and Dalton Thursday.