As Georgia Governor Brian Kemp renews his efforts to keep localities from issuing mask mandates, a White House report that has not been made public "strongly" recommends a statewide mask mandate.
"Current mitigation efforts are not having a sufficient impact and would strongly recommend a statewide mask mandate," reads a White House report dated August 9, informing Georgia that it is in the "red zone" for both cases and rate of positive tests. "Red" indicates there are more than 100 new COVID cases per 100,000 people, and 10% of cases come back positive.
The White House has been creating such assessment reports on individual states, but not releasing them to the public. CBS News obtained a copy of the internal report. The Atlanta Journal Constitution first reported the findings.
Meanwhile, Kemp sued the Atlanta mayor and city council for issuing a citywide mask order. The Republican governor eventually, but said he would be addressing the matter with a new executive order this weekend.
The White House did not provide CBS News with an on-the-record response to the report. The governor's office insisted Kemp is relying on science to fight the virus.
"Governor Kemp continues to rely on data, science, and the public health advice of Dr. Toomey and her team in our state's ongoing battle against COVID-19. As the Governor has said many times before, this fight is about protecting the lives – and livelihoods – of all Georgians," said Cody Hall, Kemp's press secretary.
The report says that in the week leading up to August 9, while new cases were appearing in Georgia at a stable rate, the rate of positive tests increased.
"There is widespread and expanding community spread. There is no significant improvement in the Atlanta metro area, with continued high levels of new cases at a plateau, "the White House report says. "Mitigation efforts must increase."
The same White House report suggests Georgia limit dining to under 25% capacity and ask citizens to limit social gatherings to 10 people or fewer. It also says bars and nightclubs should close in "red" counties in the state, that is, areas that show the highest COVID risk.