Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) was unaware until last week that asymptomatic people could transmit the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Kemp issued a statewide “shelter in place” order beginning last Friday after the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, Dr. Kathleen Toomey, informed him that infected persons without symptoms could pass the virus onto others.

“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. Toomey,” Kemp said last Wednesday. “Finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs, so what we’ve been telling people from directives from the CDC for weeks now that if you start feeling bad, stay home… those individuals could’ve been infecting people before they ever felt bad. But we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours. And as Dr. Toomey told me, this is a game changer for us.”


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As of Wednesday morning, Georgia has reported more than 7,500 COVID-19 cases and 294 deaths.

Kemp’s reasoning for ordering the shelter in place was logical, but a little bit late.

Most experts and health organizations have recognized that asymptomatic persons could be carriers of the virus since more than a month ago.

In King County, Washington — where the outbreak first hit the U.S. — 76 residents at a long-term care facility were tested for the virus. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 23 residents tested positive but around half were asymptomatic or not showing symptoms on the day they were tested.

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