DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — DeKalb County officials sent out a public health safety alert early Thursday morning regarding the "rapid" spread of coronavirus cases across the county.
According to the 8 a.m. alert, "The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is rapidly increasing in DeKalb and across Georgia."
The message went on to advise county residents to continue to follow the CDC guidelines by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and staying home when possible.
"Based on our research, this is the first time any jurisdiction in the southeastern United States has used an emergency warning system for this purpose. But clearly COVID-19 presents imminent threat and danger -- much more dangerous than any tornado that we've experienced..." DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond said.
County officials are also encouraging residents to get tested.
"DeKalb County, as well as metro Atlanta and the state of Georgia, is experiencing a troubling spike in the number of COVID-19 infections. DeKalb has the third-highest number of infections in the state of Georgia." Thurmond said.
This alert comes after 2,946 new coronavirus cases were added to the count on July 1. This is the highest amount of cases Georgia has seen in one day.
"With the holiday weekend coming on we just felt it was important to remind DeKalb County residents, citizens, and visitors not to let your guard down and remember the CDC guidelines," Thurmond said. "We wanted to alert our citizens that we are in the midst of a deadly deadly pandemic. And no one can take anything for granted."
Gov. Brian Kemp has extended the Public Health State of Emergency until August 11. However, he has not mandated masks across the state.
"I would prefer that masks were mandatory -- they're not so that means we have to use every other resource we have available to us to support the efforts of our health professionals to protect themselves and their family," Thurmond told 11Alive.
Georgia was one of the first states to reopen its economy, allowing restaurants and personal service businesses to resume operations in late April. The governor has gradually allowed other businesses to reopen in phases in the weeks since, eventually ending the state's shelter-in-place order for everyone with the exception of the medically fragile.
Visit the 11Alive coronavirus page for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about Georgia specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world.
State and federal officials with the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are continually monitoring the spread of the virus. They are also working hand-in-hand with the World Health Organization to track the spread around the world and to stop it.