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Kemp mulls ‘strike teams’ as confirmed COVID-19 cases drop

August 26, 2020 GMT

BAXLEY, Ga. (AP) — Georgia’s governor said Wednesday that he’s considering creating mobile testing strike teams to deploy to schools and colleges to control COVID-19 outbreaks.

Brian Kemp told news outlets the teams could also be used to control coronavirus outbreaks at long-term care facilities. The Republican governor has expressed frustration in recent days that fewer people are being tested in Georgia than at the peak of the summer outbreak in late July, meaning the state has unused testing capacity.

“If we have those mobile teams, instead of having people at a fixed site somewhere that nobody’s going to visit to get tested, let’s take those resources and take them somewhere we need them for testing,” Kemp told WTOC-TV.


The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to decline slowly in Georgia. On Wednesday, the seven-day rolling average of confirmed cases fell below 2,400, the lowest it has been since July 2, and down 37% since the July 24 peak. Georgia continues to have the second-highest number of new confirmed cases per capita over the past 14 days, though, according to calculations by The Associated Press. Hospitalizations of people with the respiratory illness have also fallen about 30% since an early August peak.

Kemp touted those gains Wednesday during a tour of southeast Georgia.

“Our COVID numbers are showing encouraging signs every day, so don’t be discouraged by the national or even Atlanta media that has bad headlines,” Kemp said during an appearance at Coastal Pines Technical College in Baxley.

Newly reported deaths remain high, though, in part because death often follows a long COVID-19 illness. Georgia’s fatalities rose to 5,311 Wednesday, and the state continues to average more than 60 deaths a day.

Democrats pressed Kemp on Wednesday to do more to alleviate economic suffering because of the pandemic. A letter signed by 28 House Democrats calls on state government to hire more Georgia Department of Labor employees to speed processing of unemployment claims, and to pay claims that haven’t been reviewed within 30 days. It says the state could recoup money later if the claims were incorrect or ineligible.

Democrats also called on state government to put a 60-day statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, use federal welfare and community development funds to pay emergency housing assistance, and to impose a statewide mask mandate.


Kemp has been touting Georgia’s economy, saying Wednesday that the state “never shut down a lot of businesses” and “opened at the appropriate time.”

“We continue to fight through this without having threats of shutting down again, and that is going to be very good for us in the long term,” Kemp said in Baxley.

Students in kindergarten, first grade, sixth grade and ninth grade resumed classes in Gwinnett County, Georgia’s largest school district, as well as special education students who are in self-contained classrooms. The 180,000-student district plans to phase in other grade levels for in-person learning through Sept. 9. About half of Gwinnett’s students have opted to stay at home and learn virtually.


This story has been edited to clarify that the decline cited refers to confirmed cases of COVID-19.