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Savannah mayor reinstates mask mandate

COVID-19 cases are rising in some areas of the state.

SAVANNAH, Ga. — As COVID-19 cases continue to creep back up around the country, the city of Savannah will put its mask mandate back in place.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson made the announcement Monday saying the order will require anyone in Savannah to wear a mask indoors would go into affect immediately.  

"It is important for government officials to be proactive. There’s no sense in waiting for total devastation to occur," said Dr. Frita Fisher with Atlanta Medical Association.

One day later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its recommendations to also urge people who are fully vaccinated to wear masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the virus is surging.

The Georgia Department of Public Health numbers show COVID cases are rising in Chatham County – where Savannah is located. As of Monday, the department’s COVID map put the coastal county in orange with an 11.7% positive testing rate over the last two weeks.  

Fisher said a surge in cases could cripple Chatham County where there are not as many hospital beds or staff compared to the metro Atlanta area.

Fulton and DeKalb counties are starting seeing a similar upward trend with cases, but so far both are below a 10% positive testing rate.

RELATED: CDC reverses course on indoor masks in parts of US where COVID is surging

In a statement Monday, a spokesperson for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said they are still closely monitoring COVID-19 numbers:

"Mayor Bottoms’ Executive Order requiring masks for all who enter City facilities remains in effect. The City of Atlanta continues to monitor the data and confer with public health experts about the rise in COVID-19 cases. We encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated and continue to follow CDC guidelines, including wearing a face covering when appropriate."

Fisher said with even a consistent slight rise in numbers, Fulton and DeKalb should consider taking action too.

"I strongly encourage other counties to look at their numbers and if they see that things are increasing, if hospitalizations are increasing, if cases are increasing, they should try to stop things right now by reinstituting mask mandates in places where it seems necessary," said Fisher.

11 Alive also reached out to Governor Brian Kemp’s office on Monday about the mask mandate – a spokesperson reiterated the governor urges Georgians to get vaccinated.

Wednesday, the governor tweeted that the state would not lockdown, and there will not be a statewide mask mandate

“As the first state in the country to reopen over a year ago, we’ve proven that Georgians know how to come together and protect themselves and their loved ones,” Gov. Kemp wrote in one of the tweets.

    

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