Report: White House task force urged Georgia to mandate masks as it warned of expanding Covid-19 spread

Georgia’s current policies to fight Covid-19 are not enough, according to White House Coronavirus Task Force recommendations dated Sunday and obtained by The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“There is widespread and expanding community viral spread,” reads the report, according to the newspaper.

“There is no significant improvement in the Atlanta metro area, with continued high levels of new cases at a plateau. Mitigation efforts must increase.”

The task force recommended a statewide mask mandate, the closing of nightclubs, bars and gyms in high-risk counties, limiting restaurants to one-quarter of capacity, and ramping up testing and contact tracing, according to the newspaper article.

“Current mitigation efforts are not having a sufficient impact and would strongly recommend a statewide mask mandate,” reads the report.

Georgia’s rate of spread remained nearly double the national average, the task force said in the report.

CNN reached out the White House and the task force, but, in the past, they have repeatedly declined to make these reports public.

The White House report examined data from August 1 to 7 and was a follow-up to one dated July 26 that labeled Georgia as one of 21 states in the “red zone.” The new assessment found Georgia’s case rate declining slightly, but new case growth and the numbers testing positive for the virus still put Georgia in the red zone.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s office continues to rely on data and advice of the state’s health commissioner and said, “This fight is about protecting the lives — and livelihoods — of all Georgians,” it said in a statement to CNN.

Georgia has highest 7-day average of new cases

Georgia has the highest seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 people with 31.99, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Georgia’s Health Department reported 2,674 new cases Thursday, putting the total at 228,668.

The department also reported 83 new coronavirus-related deaths, which brings the total in the state to 4,538. The state reported 136 deaths Tuesday, its most in a single day, and another 109 deaths Wednesday.

Forty miles north of Atlanta, more than 1,100 students, teachers and staff in the Cherokee County School District are under quarantine due to dozens of cases or exposure. Schools reopened last week. A second-grader tested positive after attending the first day of school.

This week, Kemp withdrew a lawsuit he filed against Atlanta’s Democratic mayor and City Council to block restrictions the city had put in place to fight the coronavirus, including a citywide mask mandate.

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