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3,400 more COVID-19 cases reported in Georgia; state’s death toll over 3,100

Defiance grows as Georgia governor blocks local mask rules

In this Tuesday, April 28, 2020, photo, Alexander Faigen, of Augusta University's Dental College of Georgia, shows how far a nasal swab must be inserted in Augusta, Ga. Volunteers at a Georgia dental college who started using a 3D printer to make nasal swabs used in test kits for the coronavirus are now a major part of the state's effort to expand testing. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
In this Tuesday, April 28, 2020, photo, Alexander Faigen, of Augusta University's Dental College of Georgia, shows how far a nasal swab must be inserted in Augusta, Ga. Volunteers at a Georgia dental college who started using a 3D printer to make nasal swabs used in test kits for the coronavirus are now a major part of the state's effort to expand testing. (AP Photo/Ron Harris) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

An additional 3,441 cases of COVID-19 were reported Thursday afternoon by the Georgia Department of Public Health, a day after the state’s governor forbade cities and counties from mandating face coverings.

The state has now recorded 3,104 deaths -- an increase of 13 from Tuesday. An additional 244 hospitalizations were reported, bringing the total number to 14,346.

Testing in Georgia has ramped up considerably. As of Thursday, more than 1.17 million people had been tested in the state, which had a 10.2% positivity rate.

In Southeast Georgia counties tracked by News4Jax, Glynn County reported an addition 42 cases Thursday. Ware and Pierce counties reported 27 and 13 more cases, respectively.

A total of nine more cases were reported Thursday in Brantley, six more were reported in Camden and two in Chartlon. There were 249 reported hospitalizations in the six counties.

Here’s a breakdown of the cases reported in Southeast Georgia:

Mayors in Atlanta and other Georgia cities deepened their defiance of Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday, saying they want their requirements for people to wear masks in public to remain in place.

Officials in at least 15 Georgia cities and counties, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, had ordered masks during the coronavirus pandemic, and many are venting outrage at Kemp swatting down their efforts.

“The mayor’s order remains in effect, as science and data will continue to drive the city’s decisions,” Bottoms spokesperson Michael Smith wrote in a text. “Masks save lives.”

Kemp doesn’t disagree, saying he strongly supports mask-wearing to combat the spread of COVID-19 infections. He traveled the state earlier this month to encourage face coverings. But he has maintained for weeks that cities and counties don’t have the power to require masks in public places, saying no local order can be more or less restrictive than his statewide mandates.

That didn’t stop local governments from continuing to enact their own mandates, so Wednesday, in an otherwise routine renewal of rules governing business operations and ordering medically vulnerably people to stay home, Kemp made that prohibition explicit. He went so far as to say local governments couldn’t order masks on their own property, which would include Atlanta’s airport.

Although national health officials have called on people to use masks, President Donald Trump’s administration has not issued any nationwide guidance. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia now require masks.

Kemp’s stance — not only shying away from a statewide order but trying to bar local governments from instituting their own — leaves him standing virtually alone. In the South, Republican governors in Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida have resisted calls for a statewide mask mandate but allow local jurisdictions to implement them. Republican governors in Alabama and Texas and Democrats in Kentucky, Louisiana and North Carolina have issued statewide mask requirements.