It was just four months ago that President Trump declared himself a "wartime president" ready to fight a war against an "invisible enemy."
At that time, we had fewer than 10,000 total confirmed cases of coronavirus in our country, barely 3,000 cases being reported daily and a fervent belief that we, as a nation, could effectively confront this enemy with the assistance and leadership of the government and the willingness of communities and individuals to rise up and do what needed to be done.
Unfortunately, the unimaginable has occurred with an explosion of new cases and our state and local governments busy chasing the curve rather than being able to flatten it. The total number of confirmed cases in the U.S. now exceeds 3.5 million people, with more than 75,000 cases being reported in just one day!
The appalling lack of federal leadership during this pandemic has resulted in preventable hospitalizations and the deaths of tens of thousands of U.S. residents. Yet, we have not received a briefing from our commander-in-chief in quite some time. Instead it seems like he has raised the white flag and surrendered to this "invisible enemy."
So, at this point it is even more imperative that state and local governments assume greater leadership to contain this pandemic and protect the health and safety of their residents. Business leaders also must enact steps to protect their customers and employees and ensure that paid leave is available to employees for COVID-19 related isolation and quarantine.
I implore our governor and local elected officials to immediately implement all the following community mitigation strategies:
1. Issuing a statewide mandate for all Georgians to wear face masks or face shields when outside the home. The recent surge in new cases demonstrates that just "cajoling" the public to "do the right thing" is not an effective or adequate strategy.
2. Closure of bars, nightclubs and gyms and any other indoor facilities where customers are unlikely to wear face masks.
3. Increasing the availability of diagnostic testing for coronavirus, with results provided within 48 hours.
4. Implementing a more robust contact tracing system to ensure that those who have been in close contact with a positive case are expeditiously contacted, tested and quarantined in accordance with public health orders.
5. Increasing community education to those populations at increased risk of serious complications or death from COVID-19 and those geographic regions with continued high incidence of infection.
Gov. Kemp previously pledged to be guided by the data in his response to the coronavirus pandemic. It is past time for the state to respond in an informed and effective manner to the skyrocketing number of cases here in Georgia. The people of Georgia deserve to be protected from this virus, and we need to be reassured that there is a well-functioning public health system and appropriate statewide mandates to reduce the risk of community transmission.
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