ATLANTA — The latest weekly report from the White House coronavirus task force shows that while there has been some improvements in the past week in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, more needs to be done to speed up the progress.
The latest report published the week of Aug. 23, obtained by 11Alive through an open records request, shows that the majority of Georgia's counties are in the "red zone" for cases. It currently has the second-highest rate for COVID-19 spread in the country.
According to the report, 86 percent of all counties in Georgia have "ongoing community transmission" in yellow and red zones; more than half of counties have "high levels" of community transmission.
However, the report also noted that for the first time, there has been a decrease in the number of counties in the red zone - down to 82 from 109. Small progress, the report said, but not nearly enough.
"Georgia is making progress and has seen a decrease in new cases and a decrease in test positivity over the last week, but these improvements need to accelerate," the report said. "Not just in the large metro areas, but throughout the state. Increasing mitigation efforts is important."
Some of those mitigation tactics the task force report outlined included expanding the protection of those in nursing homes and other facilities like them. The task force also recommended a statewide mask mandate for counties with 20 or more active cases.
For counties in the "red zone," including many parts of the metro Atlanta area, the task force suggested public officials limit gatherings to 10 people or fewer and closing bars, gyms, requiring masks in all businesses and retailers, provide more targeted testing and more. For those areas in "yellow zones," public officials should limit gyms to 25 percent capacity and keep bars closed - until positive rates are under 3 percent. They also suggested limitng social gatherings to 25 people or fewer and require masks.
Under current guidelines from the state, gatherings are capped at 50 people, bars and gyms are open and there is no mask requirement for the state, though Gov. Brian Kemp reversed course after a legal dispute and allowed localities to institute limited mask mandates.
The task force further said that Georgia needs to expand its testing capacity by putting sites in communities, but also take steps to reduce the turnaround time.
The report noted that Georgia had an average of 167 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people over the past week. That's compared to a national average of 93 per 100,000. The report said Fulton, Gwinnett and Cobb counties had the highest number of new cases over the past three weeks, accounting for 21 percent of new cases in Georgia.
Read the full coronavirus report below:
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