COVID-19 at record levels in Georgia on eve of Trump rally

COVID-19 is at record levels in Georgia on the eve of President Trump’s planned visit to the state on Saturday.

Officials had hoped that three days of sharp increases in case numbers was due to a post-Thanksgiving testing and reporting backlog, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

But that backlog has cleared up — and the numbers are still rising. There were 6,376 confirmed and probable cases recorded Friday, along with 43 deaths.

“Today’s COVID-19 numbers do not include backlogs of any significance,” Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) spokeswoman Nancy Nydam told the paper.

“What we are seeing is a surge in COVID-19 cases statewide.”

Vice President Mike Pence visited Georgia on Friday, and Trump and first lady Melania arrive Saturday for a get-out-the-vote rally in Valdosta to boost the two GOP Senate runoff candidates.

Georgia officials are blaming Thanksgiving get-togethers for the surge, and they predict the numbers will only rise as more people fall ill and see test results.

“We are not plateauing. We are on a critical upward trend,” Dr. Harry J. Heiman, a clinical associate professor at the Georgia State University School of Public Health told the paper.

“People need to recognize that there’s help on the way in the way of a vaccine, but for most of us that help is not going to come until late spring or early summer,” he said.

“If we want to live to see that day and make sure our family members live to see that day, we need to double down on following the public health science and do what we can to avoid risk.”