Holdout Georgia has joined the list of states under stay-at-home orders, but a statement from Gov. Brian Kemp while announcing the restrictions is causing a stir as well. Kemp explained Wednesday that he just learned asymptomatic people with the coronavirus can spread the disease, reports the Hill. "We didn't know that until the last 24 hours," said Kemp. "And as Dr. Toomey told me, this is a game changer for us," he added, referring to state public health chief Kathleen Toomey. Kemp's acknowledgement has led to "shocked reactions" online, notes Newsweek, given that public health officials in the US and around the world have been warning for weeks that asymptomatic people are a particular danger when it comes to spreading COVID-19.
"The idea that Kemp didn't know this is striking," writes Aaron Blake at the Washington Post. "But he's merely the latest top politician to indicate that he's unfamiliar with the science even as he's making life-or-death decisions for his constituents." Blake's piece notes that Dr. Anthony Fauci said as far back as Jan. 31 that asymptomatic people could "absolutely" spread the coronavirus, and Blake quotes public statements from Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx (both on the White House task force) to that effect in the ensuing weeks. (Studies abroad, like this one, back up the danger.) It's possible Kemp and officials in Georgia were reacting to comments from CDC chief Robert Redfield on NPR Monday, in which he estimated that 25% of infected people have no symptoms. "That's important," he said, because "we have learned that in fact they do contribute to transmission." (Read more Georgia stories.)