Coronavirus Update: Testing lines grow; Gov. says city mask law unenforceable; MARTA won’t require masks

Courtesy CBS 46

People across Metro Atlanta are reporting waits of up to a week or more to receive results from COVID-19 tests, according to a report from CBS 46. Labs across the state have experienced a backlog of testing due to increased volume.  The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has increased to 106,727 from July 8-9, with the death toll standing at 2,930, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. There were 2,837 new cases reported in 24 hours. See the full daily status report at this link.

Gov. Brian Kemp’s office said in a media statement today that face mask orders issued by cities, including Atlanta, are “unenforceable,” but stopped short of saying the state would go to court over the issue. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an executive order on July 8 requiring that face masks be worn in the city and at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. “Like all of the local mask mandates, Mayor Bottoms’ order is unenforceable,” the statement read. “We continue to encourage Georgians to do the right thing and wear a mask voluntarily. If the Mayor wants to flatten the curve in Atlanta, she should start enforcing the current provisions of the Governor’s orders.” Kemp said last month that requiring Georgians to wear masks was a “bridge too far,” but went on a seven-city tour encouraging residents to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The mayors of Savannah, Athens, Doraville, Brookhaven, and East Point have also issued mask mandates.

While MARTA has been handing out two million face masks to its riders, the transit agency won’t enforce wearing a mask on trains or buses. The AJC reports that the decision was made not to enforce the city’s new mask mandate out of fear of confrontations between riders and staff.

The Varsity in Midtown was closed on Thursday after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. The iconic burger and hot dog joint will reopen July 10 after disinfecting and sanitation. However, the famous drive-in served by carhops is being closed down for the immediate future. Takeout and socially-distanced dine-in will still be available.

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