Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has finally caved to mounting public pressure and issued a statewide stay-at-home order on Wednesday after weeks of dragging his feet, telling reporters he was taking the action because he just learned that people without symptoms can spread the novel coronavirus—a fact that has been widely known both to officials and the general public for months.
Kemp told reporters he was “finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs.”
“Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad, but we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours,” he said. He added that the state’s top doctor told him that “this is a game-changer.”
This fact was widely reported months ago when health officials started emphasizing that asymptomatic people are transmitting the coronavirus.
Anthony S. Fauci, a lead member of the White House coronavirus task force, had been talking about asymptomatic transmission more than two months ago.
“You know that in the beginning, we were not sure if there were asymptomatic infection, which would make it a much broader outbreak than what we’re seeing. Now we know for sure that there are,” Fauci said at a Jan. 31 task force briefing. “It was not clear whether an asymptomatic person could transmit it to someone while they were asymptomatic. Now we know from a recent report from Germany that that is absolutely the case.”
On Feb. 4, Fauci said: “We had been getting reports from highly reliable people in China — scientists, investigators and public health people who we’ve known over the years — and they’ve been telling us, ‘There’s asymptomatic disease, for sure, and we are seeing asymptomatic transmission.’ ”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is headquartered in Atlanta, issued public guidance as early as March 1 stating that asymptomatic people could indeed spread the coronavirus, reports The Washington Post.
“Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms,” the CDC said, adding that “there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”
White House task force member Deborah Birx told reporters on March 14 that asymptomatic transmission was an increasing concern.
“Until you really understand how many people are asymptomatic and asymptomatically passing the virus on, we think it’s better for the entire American public to know that the risk of serious illness may be low, but they could be potentially spreading the virus to others,” Birx said, adding: “That’s why we’re asking every American to take personal responsibility to prevent that spread.”
Fauci warned young people on March 22 that they could transmit the virus asymptomatically.
“You’re going to get people you care for sick if you are asymptomatic,” he told young people who were still going out. “So you may not think that you have it and you very well might. And you especially might if you continue to go out and live life as usual.”
A stunning admission of deadly ignorance from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who says he only just learned that asymptomatic people can transmit #Covid19. “[I]ndividuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad, but we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours.” pic.twitter.com/T7NZWk2GDR
— Andisheh Nouraee (@andishehnouraee) April 2, 2020