Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) was criticized by everyone from mainstream media outlets to public health officials to President Donald Trump himself, for plans to reopen businesses and lift the coronavirus lockdown restrictions early. So far, Kemp's decision appears to be the correct one.
According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Georgia hasn't seen the spike in new coronavirus cases that many predicted. From the organization's daily memo:
Georgia appears to have passed a peak in daily incidence. The peak in Georgia's 7-day moving average (April 20) now falls outside the 14-day window during which new cases may not yet be reported. Georgia was one of the first states to begin relaxing social distancing measures, and there has not been a noticeable change in the daily incidence since that time.
Georgia began its reopening process on Friday, April 24. President Trump responded to the plan by saying "I disagree strongly" and "it's just too soon." The University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model, which has made headlines for being extremely wrong on multiple occasions, said Georgia should wait until late June to open.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms responded by saying it felt like they were living in "The Twilight Zone."
Now that it's been nearly 2 1/2 weeks since the start of the reopening process, the rate of new cases has been relatively flat.
There does appear to be a political cost for reopening early, in terms of the public's approval of governors' handling of COVID-19. Kemp's approval rating on that question is at only 39%, contrasted with someone like Ohio GOP Gov. Mike DeWine, who has embraced stricter policies and an 86% approval of his coronavirus handling.
Polling shows that despite the increased economic hardships caused by the shutdowns, the public mostly favors a more cautious approach to returning to normal. From the New York Times:
But more than two-thirds of respondents said in a Pew Research Center poll out Thursday that they were more concerned that state governments would reopen their economies too quickly than that they might take too long — roughly on par with past responses to the same question.