AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise across Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp say he will not implement a statewide mask mandate.
“I don’t see any reason [why] we would need to go back and have further restrictions at this point,” he says.
Kemp acknowledges the current state of COVID-19 in his state, saying Georgia is “one of 34 or 35 states that have had a 50 percent increase in cases.”
“We’re also planning for the worst in case we see hospitalizations, for some reason, start getting back up to levels they were,” he explains. “But, we’re nowhere even close to that right now.”
On Monday, 59 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 in Augusta’s hospitals. Their ages ranged from 20s to 90s. 14 of those patients were being treated in the Intensive Care Unit.
“Be careful,” Dr. Rodger MacArthur, an infectious diseases physician at the Medical College of Georgia, warns. “Consider wearing a mask in crowds and inside.”
Masks are still optional in the CSRA. NewsChannel 6 asked Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis if he was considering reinstating a mask requirement, but he did not provide a definite answer.
“Based on what we did the first time, I’m going to follow the guidance of not only the CDC but our local health partners who have guided me through this entire process from day one since March of 2020,” Davis says.
With no plans for a statewide mask requirement, Kemp encourages all Georgians to get vaccinated. Only 40 percent of the state has been fully vaccinated, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.
“I’ve been vaccinated, Kemps says. “My whole family has. I’m glad I have been.”
“We know the vaccines work,” he adds. “It’s just a matter of people getting comfortable with taking one.”