ROUNDUP: Hospitals, Health Experts Say Kemp’s Order To Reopen is Dangerous, “Going to Backfire”

April 24, 2020

Lags in testing, medical shortages make it dangerous for Kemp to reopen the state

As barbershops, bowling alleys, and other businesses across Georgia open today thanks to Brian Kemp’s “reckless” and “irresponsible” executive order, a reminder: health experts warn that it’s too dangerous to reopen the state without widespread testing — which Georgia doesn’t have. As of today, Georgia is at 22,147 reported coronavirus cases, with 892 deaths.

After leaders across Georgia and even President Trump cautioned on how risky it is to reopen the state, Kemp doubled down on his order, even as hospitals in rural Georgia say they already “don’t have enough staff or beds as it is,” and that reopening business means hospitals “could be hit with a second wave of cases.”

Health experts warn that this crisis will not be over soon for Georgia, and will be made worse by Kemp’s reckless decision. Leading national disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said Kemp’s decision is “going to backfire” for Georgia’s public health, and that it “certainly isn’t going to be helpful.”

 Emory infectious disease expert Dr. Carlos del Rio warned:

“It’s no different than saying, ‘Oh, you know, I’m going to go up Mount Everest. I got to the peak, I’m done’… No, you still need to come down from the peak, and coming down could be just as dangerous going up.”

Georgia is behind most other states in tests per capita, and health experts say “the state lacks the testing capacity needed to detect the true scope of the disease.”

Read more:

AJC: Still strapped for resources, rural hospitals wary of state re-opening

  • When Brian Kemp this past week decided to start reopening parts of the state for business, he said that Georgia had already hit its peak of cases and hospitals now have increased capacity to handle critically ill patients.
  • But some areas of the state remain swamped with cases while others have yet to hit their projected peak, and there are significant disparities across Georgia in the resources that hospitals have available to care for COVID-19 patients.
  • There are worries from large hospital networks that as businesses reopen, they may compete for needed supplies and hospitals could be hit with a second wave of cases.
  • Other hospitals, particularly those in rural areas and small towns where cases continue to surge, say they don’t have enough staff or beds as it is.

WABE: While Georgia begins to open up again, health experts urge caution

  • “I think there’s a lot of wishful thinking, a lot of hoping the data will move in the direction they would like it to,” said Doctor Harry Heiman, who teaches at Georgia State University’s School of Public Health.
  • Testing in Georgia is not where it needs to be to know if numbers are really going down, or how widespread coronavirus is here, he said.
  • He said the state doesn’t yet have the capacity to do contact tracing on the scale it would need to, and it doesn’t have enough information on specific communities.
  • While there has been focus on projections of when Georgia will see its peak number of deaths caused by COVID-19, Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease expert at Emory, said that can be a distraction.
  • “It’s no different than saying, ‘Oh, you know, I’m going to go up Mount Everest. I got to the peak, I’m done,’” he said. “No, you still need to come down from the peak, and coming down could be just as dangerous going up.”

New York Times: Why Georgia isn’t ready to reopen, in charts

  • An analysis of Georgia’s infection rates, testing and underlying health risks shows why it’s singularly unwise for the state to reopen. Doing so risks a spike in infections just as the virus could be peaking.
  • Experts at the Harvard Global Health Institute have recommended a daily testing rate of 152 tests per 100,000 people to identify most infected people. Few states have come close to that goal, but Georgia is lagging behind significantly, averaging about 40 daily tests per 100,000 people over the last week.
  • Georgia’s 19 percent positive rate of COVID-19 testing is the eighth-highest in the nation.
  • Studies have pointed out the large numbers of gravely ill COVID-19 patients with underlying health problems like diabetes and heart and lung disease. Georgia looks like a giant hotspot on maps of all three of those conditions, with communities in the southern part of the state showing especially high incidence rates.


Other News from DPG

Questions? Tips? Call anytime.

Georgia Voter Protection Line


Democratic Party of Georgia

Help us elect Democrats in Georgia.