Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has issued a new executive order requiring everyone to wear a mask while indoors in a public place.
That includes private businesses as well.
The order, which was issued Wednesday evening, is in direct response to the “rising number of COVID-19 infections, the impact of the Delta variant and new CDC guidance,” according a release from the mayor’s office.
Earlier Wednesday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said he would not impose a statewide mask mandate, tweeting, “As the first state in the country to reopen over a year ago, we’ve proven that Georgians know how to come together and protect themselves and their loved ones.”
“I don’t think mask mandates work,” the governor said while speaking to reporters Thursday.
“I’m going to stay consistent. I’ve told people to follow guidance and guidelines. They know what that is now,” Kemp said. “They don’t need the government explaining that to them. All these mask mandates in the local cities in my opinion is going to do is have you all in the media covering fights breaking out in local restaurants.”
According to the newest data from Becker’s Hospital Review, Georgia currently ranks 44th in the country based on percentage of population fully vaccinated at just over 38 percent.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed course Tuesday on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging.
Citing new information about the ability of the delta variant to spread among vaccinated people, the CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.
The new guidance follows recent decisions in Los Angeles and St. Louis to revert to indoor mask mandates amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations that have been especially bad in the South. The country is averaging more than 57,000 cases a day and 24,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Most new infections in the U.S. continue to be among unvaccinated people. But “breakthrough” infections, which generally cause milder illness, can occur in vaccinated people. When earlier strains of the virus predominated, infected vaccinated people were found to have low levels of virus and were deemed unlikely to spread the virus much, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
But with the delta variant, the level of virus in infected vaccinated people is “indistinguishable” from the level of virus in the noses and throats of unvaccinated people, Walensky said.
The data emerged over the last couple of days from 100 samples. It is unpublished, and the CDC has not released it. But “it is concerning enough that we feel like we have to act,” Walensky said.
Vaccinated people “have the potential to spread that virus to others,” she said.
For much of the pandemic, the CDC advised Americans to wear masks outdoors if they were within 6 feet of one another.