As COVID-19 cases near 30K, social distancing falters while new model shows state at risk for spike

The Georgia Department of Public Health’s latest statistics – as of 6:25 p.m. on May 4 – show confirmed cases of COVID-19 stand at 29,437 and the death toll at 1,243. That’s 64 more deaths and 766 new cases in 24 hours.

As the number of deaths in Georgia tick up, there’s concern that social distancing measures are being ignored in the wake of Gov. Brian Kemp letting the shelter-in-place order expire on May 1.

Over the weekend, Piedmont Park, Atlanta BeltLine, and an illegal stunt driving and fireworks event near Mall West End drew thousands of people  –  many not wearing masks or observing social distancing. Atlanta was trending on social media all weekend as photos circulated of un-masked crowds gathering Saturday for the Blue Angels/Thunderbird fly over to salute medical workers.

There was a line of shoppers waiting to get into Lenox Square on Monday morning when it reopened, despite most of the retailers inside still being shuttered, while photos on Twitter showed shoppers crowding a store at Greenbriar Mall to buy the new Air Jordan sneakers.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms took to Twitter on Monday afternoon to remind Atlanta residents that they were endangering themselves and linking to an article in Forbes that cites a new study showing Georgia has increased its COVID-19 exposure risk by 42 percent by reopening businesses and restaurants.

The mayor tweeted: For those who crowded at Greenbriar awaiting the new Jordans, gathered at Piedmont Pk, shot fireworks at the Mall West End & even those now shopping at Lennox Square Mall, know that the only thing that’s changed about Covid-19 is your chance of catching [it].

The Forbes article said the COVID-19 Case Mapper – compiled by Stanford University’s Big Local News in collaboration with Pitch Interactive and Google News Initiative –  showed the risk of exposure to COVID-19 from April 21 (two days before Georgia businesses began to reopen) to May 2  increased from 180.7 to 256.8 – an increase of 42 percent.

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