Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has been widely criticized by health experts for prematurely reopening non-essential businesses in his state, and even President Donald Trump — who has been calling for states to ease coronavirus-related restrictions sooner rather than later — asserted that Kemp was moving too quickly. Now, more criticism is coming Kemp's way over reports that the Georgia Department of Public Health's website showed a decrease in new coronavirus infections in parts of the state where no such decreases were occurring.
Journalists Willoughby Mariano and J. Scott Trubey of the Atlanta Journal Constitution explain, "In the latest bungling of tracking data for the novel coronavirus, a recently posted bar chart on the Georgia Department of Public Health's website appeared to show good news: new confirmed cases in the counties with the most infections had dropped every single day for the past two weeks. In fact, there was no clear downward trend. The data is still preliminary, and cases have held steady or dropped slightly in the past two weeks."
After "more than a day of online mockery, public concern and a letter from a state representative," Mariano and Trubey report, the Georgia Department of Public Health changed the graph on Monday morning, May 18.
Candice Broce, a spokesperson for Kemp, tweeted, "Our mission failed. We apologize. It is fixed."
The Georgia state representative who called Kemp and the Georgia Department of Public Health out was Rep. Scott Holcomb, a Democrat whose district is in Atlanta. In a letter sent to Kemp's office, Holcomb wrote, "It's just cuckoo. I don't know how anyone can defend this graph as not being misleading. I really don't."
Another Democrat who serves in the Georgia House of Representatives, Rep. Jasmine Clark, implied that the graph was designed to be favorable to Kemp's push to reopen non-essential businesses in Georgia. Clark asserted, "I have a hard time understanding how this happens without it being deliberate. Literally nowhere ever, in any type of statistics, would that be acceptable."