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Why is Georgia already willing to open the state during the pandemic?

Following new guidelines from President Donald Trump on loosening social distancing regulations, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is reopening some small businesses.

Kemp said on April 20 that his sector-by-sector reopening strategy is driven by “favorable data, enhanced testing, and approval of healthcare officials.” Georgia passed its projected peak for coronavirus deaths on April 7. However, CNN reported that the same model predicts “dozens of deaths” each day, and in order to limit the virus’ potential resurgence, businesses would need to remain closed through June 15. 

In the same report, Kemp said Georgia likely will “see cases go up” but that the state is prepared for that. A report from the local PBS affiliate suggested the motivations for this return to business is economic, with 10% of the state having filed for unemployment benefits. 

The businesses which have been allowed to reopen April 24 include barbershops, hair and nail salons, body art studios, massage therapy offices, and bowling alleys. Movie theaters and sit-down restaurants will be allowed to reopen April 27, as long as they observe proper hygiene and sanitation. It’s the furthest that any state that has shown a willingness to reopen has gone. 

On April 22, though, Trump said he disagreed “very strongly” with Kemp’s plans and said, “I think spas and beauty salons and tattoo parlors and barbershops in phase one…is just too soon.”

That said, the Washington Post reported that Georgia has not met the benchmarks for metrics to reopen a state for business, as recommended by the White House. These guidelines include a downward trend of flu-like illnesses as well as symptoms similar to COVID-19 for at least 14 days. The number of COVID-19 cases also has to decrease for at least 14 days, with available resources to treat patients without utilizing “crisis care,” and have a “robust system” for testing those at-risk.

Sources: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CNN, The White House, The Washington Post, GPB News


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