Dr. Sanjay Gupta condemns Georgia's early reopening: 'The virus is still out there'

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CNN's chief medical correspondent warns that Georgia's governor is trying to reopen the state far too early.

Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday that he will allow many businesses in the state to reopen within a week.

Kemp said businesses such as gyms, bowling alleys, barbershops, and nail salons can reopen on Friday. Dine-in restaurants and movie theaters can reopen Monday if they follow social distancing guidelines.

As of Tuesday morning, 18,477 people in Georgia have tested positive for coronavirus, and 767 people in the state have died.

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Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon and CNN's chief medical correspondent, blasted Kemp's decision during an appearance on "Out Front" Tuesday:

ERIN BURNETT (HOST): Sanjay, to this point to reopening. You now have Georgia, and I want you to talk about this. Obviously, you are in Georgia right now.

 

But the Georgia governor is going to allow — this week — fitness centers, bowling alleys, tattoo studios, barbers, nail salons, hair [salons], massage therapy to open, and by the end of the weekend: theaters and restaurants.

 

That's ahead of the White House's plan. I just want to be clear: They're not early; they're off the chart early.

 

How dangerous is it?

 

DR. SANJAY GUPTA: You know, I'm really worried about it, Erin. I know that there's a lot of pressure from these businesses to want to reopen. I hear that as well, and I'm sure the governor is feeling a lot of that pressure.

 

But this is worrisome.

 

We know that the virus is still out there. We know that it's a contagious virus. That is the constant in this entire equation.

 

We put together a graph here. Let me show you if you look at testing overall in a place like Georgia, you see that over the period of time we've done some 84,000 tests, roughly. Some 19,000 or so people have been diagnosed with this.

 

That's where we are right now. Anybody can look at that graph and say that is still accelerating. We're not doing enough testing so the numbers are likely even worse.

 

Twenty-three percent of the people who are tested come back positive. That number needs to be closer to 10% to sort of get a sense we are testing enough.

 

There has not been a 14-day downward trajectory, which is part of, again, the guidelines that came from the federal government, to your point, Erin, showing that's what they needed to hit before starting to think about reopening things.

 

I think it goes without saying there's certain of those activities you mentioned — massage therapists, nail salons, hairdressers — how do you maintain a physical distance there?

 

These are tough calls and these are unprecedented times. Sometimes it's hard to recognize the impact of the physical distancing. It's kind of like telling people to eat right. You tell them to eat right and they're like, "I feel no different. What did that do for me? I ended up eating broccoli instead of chocolate and I feel the same."

 

Actually, it does make a difference. You can extend that analogy to the country here with regard to these things. It's good for us. It's painful, I get it, it's painful for everybody. But in the end, it'll be good for us, in the state of Georgia or the entire country.

 

BURNETT: Right, and just to make your point here: As you said if 24% getting test are now coming back positive, and we did just hear the admiral just say the number they want is 10%, so that is obviously off.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.