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At least 1,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours reports state health officials, bringing Georgia’s total infections above 27,000. According to stats obtained by The AJC, as of noon Thursday, the Georgia Department of Public Health was reporting just over 26,000 confirmed cases and by Friday the number was at 27,134, according to data released at 12:25 p.m.

The news comes as Gov. Brian Kemp lifted the shelter-in-place order for most of the state’s 10.6 million residents.

On Thursday Kemp defended his decision to The AJC and said loosening restrictions for much of the state’s population makes sense because almost half of the coronavirus deaths had been linked to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

“What we’ve done has worked,” said Kemp. “It’s given us time to build our hospital infrastructure capacity, get ventilators and ramp up testing. That’s what really drove our decision.”

He added that criticism “comes with the territory,” and he urged local officials to crack down on violators if they want residents to more strictly adhere to the guidelines reports The AJC.

“They have the enforcement powers here. They can take action if people are not heeding the advice that Dr. Toomey and I have put in place,” he said. “These protocols work. People are following them.”

At least 1,147 Georgians have died of COVID-19, the health department verified an additional 40 deaths since midday Thursday.


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