Georgia’s coronavirus infection rate continues to rise as people within the state flock to businesses once closed under mandatory orders. As of Monday morning, the Georgia Department of Public Health reports 23,481 confirmed cases and 916 deaths. That’s up by more than 1,000 new cases and 20 reported deaths since mandatory shutdown orders were lifted on Friday.
The news comes as leaders within the state urge Georgians to stay at home. On Saturday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tweeted, “If you’re getting your nails done right now, please share these noon numbers with your manicurist,” adding the hashtag “Stay Home Georgia.”
The chart reflected in the tweet posted on Saturday afternoon showed a 34 percent increase in deaths from the week before. And those numbers have since worsened.
In the southwest region of the state, Kemp’s decision to reopen Georgia against suggestions from health officials and the White House may have even greater consequences. The Washington Post reports that the state’s hardest-hit areas are majority Black and roughly 30 percent of the population live in poverty. They also lack access to health care and some areas have no hospitals or medical staff to tend to patients who are often uninsured.
“To open up businesses where it’s impossible to practice social distancing—hair salons, nail salons, theaters—people are like, What? You want to put everybody in a closed room, and that’s supposed to be okay?” Albany city commissioner Demetrius Young told WaPo. “For Black folks, it’s like a setup: Are you trying to kill us?” Albany, Georgia, is currently the center of the state’s epidemic.
As nonessential businesses like bowling alleys, nail salons, barbershops and restaurants continue to open, the state of Georgia has teamed up with Walmart to provide COVID-19 testing in rural parts of the state. According to WSB-TV Alanta, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is also giving the Georgia Department of Health $16.4 million to enhance testing capacity, conduct contact tracing and safeguard high-risk populations.