ROUNDUP: Kemp’s Anti-Mask Order Defied Federal Guidelines, Georgia’s Reckless Reopening Based On “Massaged” Virus Data

July 17, 2020

As Brian Kemp comes under fire for banning local governments from enforcing mask orders and suing the city of Atlanta, new reporting has revealed that Kemp’s reckless reopening order goes against federal guidelines that recommend a statewide mask mandate, and that Kemp’s administration has been dangerously manipulating Georgia’s COVID-19 data.

The day before Kemp’s anti-mask order, a document for the White House Coronavirus Task Force suggested that Georgia is in the “red zone” for COVID-19 cases and test positivity, and recommended that the state mandate masks immediately to protect public health. Instead, Kemp doubled down on his anti-public health rhetoric and banned cities from enacting mask orders.

Another report from Bloomberg confirmed what Georgians have known for weeks: throughout Kemp’s reckless reopening, his administration has been manipulating data to “make the state appear healthier than it was” for Kemp’s reopening — even as cases spiked across the state.

The question remains: is Kemp banning mask orders and suing Atlanta to please failure-in-chief Donald Trump, or does he just not care that Georgians are going to die?

Read more:

AJC’s The Jolt: A swirl of masked contradictions in Georgia

  • On Thursday, as news of the Kemp lawsuit was breaking, the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit newsroom based in Washington, D.C., published a piece that specifically mentioned Georgia.
  • A document prepared for the White House Coronavirus Task Force but not publicized suggests more than a dozen states should revert to more stringent protective measures, limiting social gatherings to 10 people or fewer, closing bars and gyms and asking residents to wear masks at all times.
  • The document, dated July 14 and obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, says 18 states are in the “red zone” for COVID-19 cases, meaning they had more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population last week. Eleven states are in the “red zone” for test positivity, meaning more than 10 percent of diagnostic test results came back positive.
  • It’s clear some states are not following the task force’s advice. For instance, the document recommends that Georgia, in the red zone for both cases and test positivity, “mandate statewide wearing of cloth face coverings outside the home.” But Gov. Brian Kemp signed an order Wednesday banning localities from requiring masks.

Bloomberg: Georgia massaged virus data to reopen, then voided mask orders

  • The same week Kemp ordered Georgia’s reopening, his administration began presenting data in a way that made the state appear healthier than it was, said Thomas Tsai, a professor at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
  • The technique involved backdating new cases to the time of first symptoms or taking a test, instead of reporting them as they were reported to the state, like Georgia had previously done — and like most states do.
  • The effect — as states were being told to predicate their reopenings on two weeks of declining case numbers — was to artificially make Georgia’s trends look better.
  • Even now, according to a daily comparison by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the difference is striking. A chart based on new reported cases had numbers soaring through July 16. The state’s symptom-onset version showed them plummeting after July 2.
  • What is certain is that cases began rising in late June and surged in July, developments even massaged data couldn’t hide.
  • On Thursday, the 3,441 new cases reported brought the total to 131,275. More than 3,100 people in Georgia have died of the disease.


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