ATLANTA — Governor Brian Kemp is once again urging residents to wear masks and continue safe practices during what he calls a once-in-a-century pandemic that is upending lives.
The news comes just before the Thanksgiving holidays and at a time that Kemp acknowledged the state is already seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases.
The governor has long pushed for mask use and other precautions but has stopped short of a mandate - though he has allowed limited options for local municipalities to enforce their own ordinances.
In his address, shared on social media, Kemp asked fellow Georgians to "hunker down and stay vigilant."
"Our fight with COVID-19 has uprooted so many of the norms we are used to and I know it has been hard on Georgia and their families," Kemp said. "But we cannot let up."
Kemp acknowledged that the state had already seen an uptick in cases that he attributed to people spending more time inside. Now, he's asking those who plan to hold family gatherings in the weeks to come to take extra precautions.
"If possible, consider options for gathering virtually or limiting your holiday gatherings to only a few people in the same household," he said. "If weather permits, gather outside to reduce the risk of exposure indoors."
He also suggested travelers make efforts to socially distance themselves from people who they don't regularly see. Meanwhile, he suggested taking special consideration of the elderly and others prone to the most severe effects of the virus.
"Please, if you have people in your life who are more vulnerable to COVID-19, including the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, consider the risk of including them in holiday gatherings," he said.
In addition to social distancing and wearing a mask, Kemp also reiterated the importance of frequent hand-washing and getting a flu shot - the latter to prevent a "twin pandemic."
"If all Georgians commit to using best practices in heeding the advice of our public health officials, we can win this fight and return to normal safely and quickly," he said.