'Deadly ignorance’: Georgia GOP governor slammed for falsely claiming 'we didn't know' asymptomatic people can transmit coronavirus

'Deadly ignorance’: Georgia GOP governor slammed for falsely claiming 'we didn't know' asymptomatic people can transmit coronavirus
Image via Screengrab.

After weeks of rejecting a statewide stay-at-home order for Georgia, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has finally changed his mind — asserting that the realization that one can spread coronavirus despite being asymptomatic was a “game-changer” for him. And critics are lambasting the Georgia governor for taking so long to acknowledge what other governors were acknowledging weeks ago.

Dr. Kathleen E. Toomey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, evidently played a key role in Kemp finally coming to his senses. Explaining his decision to issue a stay-at-home order, Kemp told reporters at a news conference this week, “I’m following the data, following the advice of Dr. Toomey. Her and I both mentioned in my remarks — um, you know, finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs.”

Kemp went on to say that according to officials from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “If you start feeling bad, stay home. Those individuals could have been infecting people before they even felt bad. Well, we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours. As Dr. Toomey told me, she goes, ‘This is a game changer for us.’ I’ve been listening to her advice.”

In other words, Kemp admitted that he didn’t realize until this week that it is possible to spread COVID-19 even if one doesn’t have any symptoms — which is something that health officials were warning about well before April.

Twitter user Andisheh Nouraee, @andishehnouraee, denounced Kemp’s statements as “a stunning admission of deadly ignorance.” And on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” host Joe Scarborough (a former GOP congressman and one of President Donald Trump’s most vehement critics on the right) described Kemp as “embarrassing.”

Scarborough asserted, “Where do I begin? Where do I begin? Everybody, haven’t we heard this from Dr. (Anthony) Fauci? Haven’t we heard this from Dr. (Deborah) Birx? I’m sure the president even said it, the vice president — everybody has been saying it, right? If I’m wrong, correct me. Haven’t we known for some time that people who are asymptomatic can pass this on?..... They all warn that…. one of the dangers is that it’s asymptomatic: you can pass it on without even knowing you’re passing it on.”

Appearing as a guest on “Morning Joe,” Axios’ Jim VandeHei told Scarborough and fellow host Mika Brzezinski that Kemp and others who were slow to acknowledge the severity of COVID-19 have been living in an “information bubble” — only paying attention to far-right media figures like Rush Limbaugh and opinion hosts at Fox News.

“There’s still a lot of garbage out there,” VandeHei told Scarborough and Brzezinski. “There are still conservatives saying, ‘Big government is trying to jam its rules on us.’”

Kemp is being slammed by numerous Twitter users this week. Journalist Doug Monroe, @Doug_Monroe27, wrote that Kemp is “not the sharpest knife in the drawer.” And @JCBurns posted, “‘We didn’t know.’ This is the core problem with how Republican leaders process scientific information. The contortions scientists have to go through to push facts through thick skulls is so frustrating.”

@Nivekian13 implied that Democrats should use Kemp’s ignorance to tar and feather the GOP, posting, “I (hope) their political adversaries puts this in campaign ads. Such a horrid example of dereliction of duty and incompetence.”

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