LILBURN, Ga. (AP) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Friday that he doesn't plan to implement any additional coronavirus restrictions, even as the state experiences an uptick in confirmed cases and battles hot spots in several areas.
Data released later Friday shows that the number of people hospitalized with coronavirus infections rose to 1,184. That's the highest number since May 8 and a 51% increase since the number of hospitalized people bottomed out on June 7.
Georgia's total confirmed infections rose to nearly 73,000 Friday, though experts say counts likely capture only a fraction of those infected, and the state has been averaging more than 1,200 new confirmed infections a day over the past 14 days. That's substantially higher than the earlier peak in late April.
"I'm certainly not considering imposing new restrictions right now. I think what we have on the books has done very well for us," the Republican governor said during a news conference Friday, after touring a drive-thru testing site northeast of Atlanta. He specifically ruled out requiring people to wear masks in public.
"We've asked our citizens to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. It's a virus. It's going to spread. We're not going to stop it from happening. We've got to be smart about who's susceptible to it," Kemp said later.
Kemp said the state is working to battle several hot spots, citing new flare ups in south Georgia, as well as in Troup County in west Georgia and Whitfield County in north Georgia.
While Georgia's universities are planning a resumption of on-campus instruction, some of the state's largest K-12 school systems are announcing that parents can choose whether their students return in-person or learn remotely from home.
The state's largest school system, Gwinnett County, announced Thursday that parents should choose at-home or remote instruction by July 10 for classes resuming Aug. 5. People will be able to change their decision after the first quarter of the school year, and the 180,000-student system could reconsider the arrangement after December.
Cobb County schools announced a similar arrangement, saying that for students attending in person, masks will be "encouraged" on buses and at school and social distancing will be enforced. The Cobb system said it will provide hand sanitizer and clean buildings daily
The 51,000-student Forsyth County system announced a similar plan last week, while the Rockdale County school system says it will use a combination of online and in-person learning.
Amy reported from Atlanta.