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Leaders remain vigilant ahead of holidays as COVID cases rise

National and state leaders warn against relaxing when it comes to coronavirus safety protocols.

ATLANTA — With the pandemic now in its ninth month, leaders are concerned that many will be tempted to relax important practices designed to keep the coronavirus in check over the holidays.

But leaders are hoping - and urging - the public to remain vigilant.

In his first public address since the election, President Donald Trump spoke from the White House Rose Garden on Friday asking the public to use caution during the holidays.

"We ask Americans to stay vigilant as we come into colder temperatures and it becomes harder to have outdoor gatherings," said Trump.

As Georgia reported more than 2,300 new coronavirus cases on Friday, Governor Brian Kemp made the decision to extend the state's existing executive order through Nov. 30. The order includes social distancing and strongly suggests mask-wearing in public.

"The state has deployed over 300,000 rapid tests to communities across our state, stockpiled a sixty-day supply of PPE, and worked with hospitals and nursing homes to provide the medical staff needed to treat COVID-19 patients," Kemp said. "While we are prepared for any scenario, it is vital that Georgians do not grow complacent. Continue to wash your hands, wear a mask, watch your distance, follow public health guidance, and get a flu shot. By taking these simple steps, we will protect lives - and livelihoods."

RELATED: Gov. Kemp supports ballot hand-count during first public appearance since quarantining

Meanwhile, schools nationwide are taking precautions ahead of the holidays. In Georgia, the University of Georgia, Valdosta State University, and the University of West Georgia will all switch to online learning after Thanksgiving for the rest of the fall semester.

The CDC recently released a guide for holiday celebrations and small gatherings recommending that guests avoid others for 14 days before getting together. They also recommend not singing or shouting inside and asking guests to wear a mask whenever possible.