Republican Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia made a statement announcing a state-wide stay-at-home order, said on Wednesday that he very recently became aware that asymptomatic people could spread the coronavirus. This drew criticism from the media and the public alike.
“The reason I’m taking this action like I’ve continued to tell people, I’m following the data, I’m following the advice of Dr. [Kathleen] Toomey,” Kemp said in response to a reporter’s question at a press conference announcing the order.
“Finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs, so what we’ve been telling people from directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for weeks now that if you start feeling bad, stay home … those individuals could’ve been infecting people before they ever felt bad,” he added. “But we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours. And as Dr. Toomey told me, this is a game-changer for us.“
Health officials have repeatedly warned that the virus can be carried and passed on by people not displaying symptoms. Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky, who became the first senator to test positive for the virus in March, reported that he had not experienced any symptoms before testing positive.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said earlier this week that almost a quarter of all cases do not show symptoms. Telling NPR, “this helps explain how rapidly this virus continues to spread across the country because we have asymptomatic transmitters, and we have individuals who are transmitting 48 hours before they become symptomatic.”
Kemp announced the stay-at-home order on Wednesday, saying that he will sign it Thursday to be active through April 13, and he announced all of the state’s K-12 public schools would remain closed for the rest of the academic year. He also said the state had reported 4,638 cases and 139 deaths state-wide as of that afternoon.
“I know you want to return to business as usual, but we must first overcome the obstacles we have in our path,” Kemp said at his briefing.