Georgia’s virus toll drops despite doomsday predictions

by WorldTribune Staff, May 14, 2020

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp last month became one of the first in the nation to relax coronavirus stay-at-home orders and move toward reopening the state’s economy.

He was immediately lambasted by the media. Patricia Murphy, a so-called political columnist and correspondent based in Atlanta, responded to Kemp’s move by writing in an April 28 op-ed for USA Today: “You’re laughing at Georgia, again, aren’t you? It happens a lot.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, warned of “suffering and death” if states rush to reopen.

The Atlantic went so far as to brand Kemp a potential murderer. “Georgia’s experiment in human sacrifice”, blared The Atlantic’s April 29 headline.

Since May 1, the daily count of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths in Georgia have dropped markedly.

Georgia business owners, those who work for them and those who are visiting their establishments aren’t laughing at the governor’s move. They’re living, an analyst said.

“The confident predictions that Mr. Kemp, a Republican, had unleashed a calamity on the Peach State appear to be wrong,” James Varney noted in a May 13 analysis for The Washington Times.

As of May 13, the seven-day moving average of new cases in Georgia was 242, down from 773 on April 29. The seven-day moving average of deaths was 12, down sharply from 34 on April 29, according to the state health department.

Hospitalizations in the state stood at 1,125 on May 13, a decline from the 1,500 figure on May 1, according to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

“Governors face mounting pressure to reopen as the economic shutdown takes a grim toll with businesses large and small forced into bankruptcy or closing permanently and more than 33 million Americans out of work,” Varney wrote. “Economists warn that the longer the shutdown remains in place, the more severe and lasting the economic damage will be.”

Under Kemp’s reopening order, the lockdown remains for the elderly and other vulnerable groups until June 12.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump on Thursday was scheduled to visit Owens and Minor Inc. distribution center in Lehigh County, Pennylvania. The facility has contributed to the administration’s efforts providing N95 masks and surgical gowns.

But the business is also located in Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s “red zone,” part of the state that won’t be allowed to reopen for nonessential business until June 4. Trump has criticized such long delays in reopening state economies.

Local officials and some business owners in Wolf’s 30-county “red zone” are vowing to defy the governor’s orders. District attorneys in Republican-majority Berks and Lebanon counties said this week that they won’t enforce the governor’s directive to stay closed.

The governor responded by threatening to withhold coronavirus aid from counties that don’t comply, saying the defiant county officials were “operating illegally” and “jeopardizing the lives of citizens.”

State Sen. Scott Martin, a Republican from Lancaster County, questioned whether the governor has the authority to withhold federal aid to local communities. He said Wolf has imposed “one of the most draconian lockdowns of all the states.”

“We are the only state that didn’t allow real estate to occur,” Martin said on “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday. “We were shutting down mom and pop businesses. Plus, he created an arbitrary waiver process where he gave about 6,100 of hand-chosen businesses across many industries the ability to continue to operate while shutting down the vast majority of our economy.”

Trump has joined in a public fight with Wolf. The president said Monday that Pennsylvanians “want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails.”

“The Democrats are moving slowly, all over the USA, for political purposes. They would wait until November 3rd if it were up to them. Don’t play politics. Be safe, move quickly!” Trump tweeted.

At a press conference Monday, Mr. Trump again cited Pennsylvania as a state that is slow-walking its reopening for partisan purposes.

“There just seems to be no effort [in] certain blue states to get back into gear,” the president said. “And the people aren’t going to stand for it; they want to get back.”

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