Today is the day that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp — who has been a symbol of everything NOT to do in response to a global pandemic — lifted a shelter-in-place order for most of the state’s residents. Kemp had already ordered most Georgia businesses to re-open as of Monday, which most health experts believed to be a terrible idea.
As CNN reports, this is no coincidence:
The number of coronavirus cases in Georgia has surpassed 27,000 with nearly 1,000 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, according to the state’s department of health. [Pols emphasis]
Groups of gun-toting, right-wing anti-government activists have been demonstrating in fairly small numbers across the country in opposition to stay-at-home orders, but they are unquestionably the exception rather than the rule among Americans. Polling continues to show that the overwhelming majority of Americans (and Coloradans) are in no hurry to end social distancing practices because they are still justifiably worried about the risks of COVID-19. As we are now seeing in Georgia, the data supports these concerns.
Take a look at what Karen Landmen, an infectious disease specialist and Georgia resident, wrote for The New York Times on Thursday:
Last week was a bad one for Georgia, and an especially bad one for our governor, Brian Kemp. On April 20, he announced that he would allow Georgia’s tattoo parlors, hair and nail salons and other “high touch” businesses to reopen as early as April 24, ahead of even President Trump’s ambitious plans. In the days since, the state has reverberated with political turmoil. Even the president rebuked Mr. Kemp for moving too fast.
For better or worse, the governor has made our state the nation’s canary in this particularly terrifying coal mine. [Pols emphasis]
Someone had to go first, and Mr. Kemp isn’t the only political leader eager to reopen the country. But the ham-handed way he went about it makes Georgians of all stripes afraid of what comes next, and it leaves us wondering whether he is setting us up for a punishing new wave of infections. He has clashed with city and county leaders and left business owners — the people he was trying to help — in the dark.
From my vantage point as a doctor, an epidemiologist, a journalist and a native Georgian, it’s clear that if there’s anything to be gained from this moment’s anguish, it is the opportunity to help others avoid our mistakes. [Pols emphasis]
There is no need to argue about whether it is safe to end social distancing and stay-at-home practices. Georgia is proving that any opinion to the contrary of caution is simply wrong.
Don’t Be Georgia.