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Coronavirus spread in Georgia is 'widespread and expanding,' says report on leaked WH warning

Georgia's governor is expected to sign a new order Saturday that will allow local governments to require masks on public property but not in businesses.

ATLANTA — A White House task force report warns that the coronavirus spread in Georgia is "widespread and expanding" and "strongly recommends" a statewide mask mandate, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which obtained the report.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp was to sign a new order Saturday that would allow local governments to mandate masks, but only on their publicly-owned property, not at private businesses.

"My new Executive Order will protect property rights for all hardworking Georgians," Kemp tweeted Friday.

Although Georgia remains without a statewide mask mandate, the governor on Saturday said residents are urged to wear face coverings and take other precautions.

"To keep moving in the right direction, we are urging all Georgians to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash their hands, and follow guidance" from the Georgia Department of Public Health, Kemp tweeted.

The Aug. 9 task force report also urged leaders in Georgia to close down bars, night clubs and gyms in high-risk counties to help stop the viral spread, the Journal-Constitution reported.

The number of coronavirus cases in Georgia shot up to nearly 235,200 on Saturday, making it the fifth-highest after California, Florida, Texas and New York.

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