At a press conference on Wednesday, Georgia governor Brian Kemp publicly stated that the advice being disseminated from the CDC as early as January is just now reaching his desk. In a “did he really say that?” moment, the former secretary of state who invoked voter suppression to win the state election claimed that he had only been informed within the last 24 hours that people could spread COVID-19 even if they are asymptomatic

“The reason I’m taking this action, it’s like I’ve continued to tell people, I’m following the data. I’m following the advice of Dr. Toomey,” Kemp said. “Finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs… What we’ve been telling people from directives from the CDC for weeks now that if you start feeling bad, stay home―those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad, but we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours.”

Kemp’s admission comes as Georgia goes under a statewide shelter-in-place order for two weeks. As reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, K-12 schools across the state have also been closed for the remainder of the year. Up until Wednesday, Georgia was one of the few states who lacked a statewide ordinance restricting the movement of nonessential employees.

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Though the Centers for Disease Control warns that “COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes and to what extent it may spread in the United States,” it estimates that up to 25 percent of people who have or will have COVID-19 are/will be asymptomatic carriers of the disease. It’s something the organization has been saying since the early days of the outbreak, and well before it became a global pandemic. The Republican governor’s statement that he and Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, are just learning about asymptomatic spread means that they are three months behind the rest of the world.

As of today, Georgia has 4,748 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 154 people succumbing to the novel SARS strain.   

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