Days after a Georgia high school football player loss both parents to COVID-19 four days apart, nearly 2,000 doctors and other health workers begged the governor to “revisit” his “strategy for combating the virus.” ”The recent surge of cases associated with decreased social distancing is placing our hospitals at risk again, and aggressive actions are urgently needed,” the health experts wrote in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sunday.
Their plea follows a new peak of 4,813 COVID-19 cases in the state on July 24, a peak seven-day average of 3,745 that same day, and a much-publicized standoff between Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms regarding her desire to require Atlanta residents to wear masks in public. The mayor tweeted the experts’ advice Sunday. But short of extending executive orders declaring a state of emergency and banning gatherings of more than 50 people without social distancing requirements, Kemp has failed to support a statewide measure requiring masks in public. Justin Hunter, the 17-year-old who loss both parents to COVID-19, told Channel 2 Action News his only message to the public is to wear masks.
“If you don’t wear it for yourself, then wear it for the next person,” he said. " Because you could be saving that person’s life.”
Hunter, a rising senior at Johns Creek High School, told Channel 2 his father Eugene Hunter, 59, died July 26 and his mother Angie Hunter, 57, died July 30. The teen said he and his parents all tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago, but while he was asymptomatic, his parents were far from it. “They became very sick and they had the clear symptoms,” Hunter told Channel 2. “Their temperatures skyrocketed. They had headaches. Horrible cough. They felt very lazy.”
He told Channel 2 in his final conversations with his parents, his dad promised to fight and his mom told him she loved him. “They never raised me to sit around and feel sorry for myself in any situation, and I just gotta keep going and pushing,” Hunter said. “I know they’re happy up there and that’s what makes me happy.”
A GoFundMe page created for the family had raised more than $206,500 of a $250,000 goal by Sunday evening. “Thank you all for your support,” he tweeted Friday. “It means the world to me.”
Georgia doctors and other health workers focused on measures to prevent the deadly virus’ spread in their letter asking the governor to adhere to the White House Coronavirus Task Force recommendations for Georgia. They include requiring face coverings in public, limiting gatherings to 10 people or fewer, allowing more restrictive measures in local jurisdictions, and closing bars and gyms in counties with a seven-day average test positivity of more than 10%.
“Finally, we strongly recommend that you take action to eliminate Georgia’s racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” the health workers said. “Resources must be targeted to the most impacted communities, specifically African American and Hispanic/Latinx communities. Data must be appropriately collected in order to understand our local epidemics. As of today, Georgia’s most impacted racial group is ‘unknown,’ and this is unacceptable.”
RELATED: Georgia Gov. Kemp explicitly blocks cities from requiring masks, for the worst possible reason