Dr. Sanjay Gupta harshly criticized Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Thursday after Kemp defended his delayed response to the coronavirus pandemic by claiming he’d just learned that the virus can be spread via asymptomatic people.
“This is inexcusable… It’s just inexcusable,” said Gupta, who is chief medical correspondent at CNN, during a discussion with CNN host Anderson Cooper.
“My kids who go to school in Georgia knew that a month ago,” he said, noting that researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta had been sounding warnings since early February that someone who showed no symptoms of COVID-19 could still spread coronavirus.
On Wednesday, Kemp, who had repeatedly resisted enforcing a shelter-at-home order in his state, announced that he would implement the statewide order for two weeks. He said he had decided to do so in light of his “game-changer” discovery in “the last 24 hours” that people who appeared healthy could still be infectious.
“We’ve known this. For a long time. To say that we just found out in the last 24 hours and that’s why we’re doing this? This is just not right,” Gupta said Thursday.
Gupta said that he found it very difficult to believe that Kemp had only just learned this information. These shelter-at-home measures, he said, were “essential” nationwide. As of Thursday, roughly 90% of the U.S. population had been placed under orders to stay home.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading voice on the coronavirus task force, told CNN in an interview later Thursday that he couldn’t understand why it wasn’t every state.
Gupta reminded those who still continue to go outside and gather in groups that “it’s not just about you.”
“If they’re not doing this by now, they’re affecting and risking my health. They’re affecting and risking your health… people they don’t even know in places far away.”
In light of Kemp’s remarks, Gupta implored leaders to heed the information provided by experts.
They could “really do a lot of good by really just paying attention to the science. Not saying two months after we’ve known this that ’Oh, I just heard that this can spread asymptomatically.′ You can’t do that. It’s just not right.”
“If that’s true that he just learned that, then he has not been paying attention and he is not doing his job, That’s completely irresponsible,” Cooper added.
As of Thursday evening, more than 245,000 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in the U.S., and 5,949 deaths had been reported, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.