As we reported at the time, that Kemp was suddenly made aware of the possibility of asymptomatic transmission was strange: Experts had been identifying that sort of transmission for months. The day before Kemp’s announcement, we even wrote a lengthy article detailing what was known about the virus’s ability to be transmitted by people who weren’t showing symptoms.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told NPR that same week that perhaps a quarter of those infected with the virus wouldn’t show symptoms. The CDC, of course, is headquartered in Georgia.
On Monday, Kemp had another announcement. The measures he’d implemented to reduce the spread of the virus would be scaled back, with some businesses able to reopen as soon as Friday.
This by itself isn’t surprising. Kemp is a staunch conservative and was clearly never terribly enthusiastic about closing the state in the first place. What’s more, the White House last week presented metrics by which states could evaluate whether they were ready to reopen. If Georgia met those benchmarks, the White House task force estimated it was ready to reopen for business.
Georgia doesn’t meet the benchmarks.
The metrics set by the federal government include measures of both the spread of coronavirus symptoms and actual cases. If a state saw a downward trend in reports of influenza-like illnesses to the CDC as well as a decline in covid-19-like illnesses, it met the benchmark on symptoms. If it further saw a decline in either daily cases or the rate at which people were testing positive, it met the benchmark on cases.
The only available data on covid-19-like illnesses is offered regionally. In Georgia’s region, there has been a two-week downward trend in reports of covid-19-like illness. But in Georgia itself, the most recent public data on flu-like illness, confirmed case increases and positive tests all indicate that Georgia isn’t ready to reopen. (The lines on the chart below indicate two weeks and one week before the most recent data. States may have more recent information than is publicly available.)
Show benchmarks for .
It may be some consolation to Kemp that South Carolina, another state seeking to put people back to work, similarly fails to meet the White House standards. Among other things, its rates of flu-like illness have been steady at the highest level for more than two weeks. (You can see South Carolina’s values on the charts above by changing the state indicator.) Tennessee, which will end its distancing measures after April 30, does meet the benchmarks (assuming its state-level covid-19-like illness numbers are trending downward). There are other metrics set by the White House, too, including hospitalizations, for which data aren’t as readily available.
On Friday, we noted that President Trump’s tweets about “liberating” various states with Democratic governors (and potentially swing electorates) didn’t actually target states that met his own benchmarks. The governors of those states, though, didn’t seem to be interested in heeding Trump’s exhortations about reopening.
Kemp, however, was happy to take Trump’s cue, if not the advice of Trump’s health experts. Despite not hitting the White House guidelines, Kemp is eager to accede to Trump’s obvious interest in getting things moving again.
With luck, he won’t learn any additional lessons about the spread of the virus as a result of doing so.