Kemp pushes masks and extends state of emergency for coronavirus


Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday extended the state’s public health emergency, certain trade restrictions and his have-in-place order for the medically fragile amid a record increase in new cases of the coronavirus.

The governor also announced Monday that he plans to take a statewide flight tour before the July 4 weekend to encourage Georgians to wear masks, but said he does not plan to require residents to do so.

Kemp’s extended orders and media bombardment of the masks come after Georgia set a record last week with more than 11,000 coronavirus cases. The state Department of Public Health reported 2,207 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, which almost equaled Sunday’s single-day record of 2,225.

Georgia set daily records for three consecutive days before Monday.

The public health emergency, which now runs through August 11, gives Kemp broad authority to impose new restrictions and take other measures to stop the spread of the virus. The shelter order for medically fragile and long-term care facility residents, due to expire on Wednesday, lasted for two weeks until July 15.

In another sign of concern over the increase in cases, Kemp extended the coronavirus restrictions by two weeks for businesses and restaurants that would expire on Wednesday. It is a break from a series of orders that constantly relax regulations.

The order also required the state Board of Education to draft rules to guide local officials planning to reopen public schools.

Kemp will travel to Albany, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Savannah and Valdosta before the holiday weekend to “encourage citizens to heed public health advice and wear a mask” to stop the spread of the disease, his office.

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