On April 27, Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp made his state the first to reopen after numerous states issued lockdown orders meant to slow the ongoing coronavirus epidemic. Kemp allowed the state’s cinemas, churches restaurants, gyms, tattoo parlors and beauty salons to all resume operations, albeit with some social distancing protocols in place.
In order to show the state’s progress after reopening, Georgia’s Department of Health (DOH) released a graph in early May which seemed to show the state’s number of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases on a steady decline. However, Los Angeles Times columnist Matthew Fleischer noted that the totals on the graph were sorted out of chronological order, rearranging the counts from different dates in order to give the appearance of a decline.
Kemp and the DOH both issued public apologies, but it seems the reopening’s damage is done.
Gov. Brian Kemp’s office issued an apology after a Georgia Public Health Department chart wrongly reported a downward trend in #coronavirus cases. The error was at least the third in as many weeks: https://t.co/wbYapZikxU pic.twitter.com/7t5Amaak3u
— AJC (@ajc) May 17, 2020
Immediately after reopening, the state saw a spike of more than 1,200 new confirmed cases on May 1. Over the last 10 days, the state has reported between 700 and nearly 1,000 new cases each day. As of June 20, Georgia ranks 11th amongst all U.S. states for the highest overall number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Numerous politicians including President Donald Trump, who had personally encouraged states to reopen quickly, said that Kemp had reopened his state too quickly. Former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams called the decision to reopen the state “dangerously incompetent and deeply callous.”
Despite the increasing case numbers, Kemp recently announced that he’ll allow spectator sports and live performance venues to reopen, for conventions to resume in July, and told state residents over 65 that they no longer have to shelter-in-place. People over the age of 65 have died of COVID-19 at rates far higher than any other age group.
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Army Warned Trump Administration on Feb. 3 That Up to 150,000 Americans Could Die From COVID-19
The U.S. Army warned two months ago that up to 150,000 Americans could die in a coronavirus outbreak, but that’s now within the range of President Donald Trump’s best-case scenario.
An unclassified briefing document prepared Feb. 3 U.S. Army-North projected that “between 80,000 and 150,000 could die” in an extreme “Black Swan” analysis, but after weeks of inaction President Donald Trump now concedes optimistically between 100,000 and 240,000 could lose their lives to the virus, reported The Daily Beast.
The document reached high levels within U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), which early on helped civilian agencies evacuate and quarantine Americans overseas, and came two days after Defense Secretary Mark Esper ordered “prudent planning” for a military response to a COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.
The Daily Beast confirmed the document reached Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy at the Pentagon, but it’s not clear how widely the Army’s death estimate was distributed within the government.
NORTHCOM commander Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy said Wednesday that the assessment reflected “worst-case” planning, but declined discuss the briefing in detail.
On March 4, a month after the Army’s briefing, Trump told downplayed the World Health Organization’s coronavirus death estimate of 3.4 percent as a “false number” to Fox News host Sean Hannity, saying he had a “hunch” it would be lower.
The briefing accurately predicted that asymptomatic people can “easily” transmit the virus, which the Army found to be outside medical consensus at the time, and warned that military personnel would be needed to provide logistics and medical support during a pandemic.
The estimate assumed military infections would be at the same rate as the civilian population, but the Military Times reported Tuesday that troop infections have actually come at a higher rate.
The briefing also assumed — inaccurately, as it turns out — that the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control would successfully contact trace all U.S. and Canadian coronavirus cases to contain the outbreak, which still hasn’t happened.
Trump received briefings on the virus throughout January, when it was mostly contained to China, and the Senate Health Committee received one Jan. 24, about a week before the Army briefing.
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