Georgia’s Governor has let us down regarding the pandemic. He has tried to emulate the President and has had the same poor results. Governor Kemp obviously idolizes President Trump, previously saying: “I was really taken by the President’s coronavirus press briefing yesterday” (3-31-20).
That’s an interesting Kemp statement, given the President’s total lack of leadership in February and March regarding the Covid-19 outbreak. Due largely to Trump and administration incompetence, we have had an out of control spread of the virus in America, making us similar to disorganized Italy versus responsible Singapore, which has comparatively held the virus at bay.
Per a recent Columbia University study, Trump’s delay caused an additional 36,000 unnecessary deaths (https://www.npr.org/2020/05/21/859991296/u-s-could-have-saved-thousands-of-lives-if-lockdown-started-earlier-study-finds). We now have more deaths and cases than any other nation, even though we are only 4% of the world’s population.
Anyone can review what other more aware states have done to identify and treat those infected, easily proving that Georgia has also been a laggard. But, like Trump, Kemp just makes it up as he goes along.
For example, the Governor’s statement at his 4-1-20 press briefing that… after complaints from health authorities, cities and counties… he was at long last finally issuing a shelter in place order. Kemp stated his action was directly due to “finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs”; and that this finding had not become known “until the last 24 hours”.
This factually incorrect statement came after him indicating that the virus had already spread to 139 Georgia counties. At that time, COVID-19 had already killed 139 Georgians and infected 4,638. However, the number was rising daily, and is now at 42,846 cases and 1,827 deaths as of Memorial Day.
Governor, I’m not an epidemiologist. But as a healthcare person, I knew that coronavirus spread without symptoms two months before you.
On 1-26-20, the BBC reported that Chinese Health minister Ma Xiaowei indicted that infected people without symptoms were spreading the virus in China. At that time, BBC’s health correspondent correctly stated that “stopping such symptomless spreaders will make the job of the Chinese authorities much harder.”
Further, on 3-5-20, the respected New England Journal of Medicine issued an article entitled: “Transmission of 2019-nCoV Infection from an Asymptomatic Contact in Germany.” At the time Dr Anthony Fauci said: “There’s no doubt after reading this paper that asymptomatic transmission is occurring.”
On 4-1, Kemp also rather clumsily and inarticulately stated that: “we had a stronger order as anybody in the country”. Again, as is true with much of what his mentor Trump has said about the virus over the last few months, Kemp was factually incorrect. With Kemp’s completely voluntary suggestions on distancing, we were not only not “stronger” than other states, we were much weaker than most.
For example, why wasn’t Kemp’s mandatory shelter in place order issued a month before? Were his advisors that incompetent? Or, much more likely, did Kemp resist due to pressure from special interests, business groups and his contributors? Is that why Georgia has the 11th most Covid-19 deaths among the 50 states?
Governor, contagious viruses are not something new. The world has successfully dealt with SARS and MERS viruses in the past decades. Earlier in January, the WHO (World Health Organization) sent out a press release about the coronavirus spreading in China and Thailand. Shortly after, the World Health Organization issued an emergency declaration and met with China to arrange for a team of international experts to immediately visit China to learn more.
Given Trump’s many disparaging remarks about the UN, WHO and other international bodies, it’s strange that America chose not to ask the Chinese to let us go in directly to help them discover more about the virus early on. It’s even stranger that no one in the NSA, CDC or the federal bureaucracy in general was able to get this President to even acknowledge the seriousness of the pandemic before mid-March when the sinking stock market awakened him.
Unfortunately for Georgians, Kemp has successfully imitated his mentor by conveniently making things up about the spread of the virus. I’ve given up on Trump, and with Kemp rescinding the shelter in place order before we could get a firm handle on COVID-19 via tasting and contact racing, he’s no better.
Jack Bernard, a retired SVP with a national corporation, was the first Director of Health Planning for Georgia. He was Chair of the Jasper County Commission and Republican Party. He Chaired the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia's Tax Committee. He is currently the Fayette County Vice-Chair of the Board of Health.