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Kemp. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) issued an executive order on Wednesday banning cities and counties from making face masks mandatory in public and explicitly voiding such mandates in at least 15 local governments, according to AP.

Why it matters: Kemp argued that statewide recommendations that strongly encourage but do not require masks should take precedent over local orders. Mask orders in major Georgia cities including Atlanta, Savannah and Athens will now be unenforceable, despite major upticks in confirmed coronavirus cases.

  • Georgia reported 3,871 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday — marking its second-highest daily total to date, per NPR.
  • Half of all new Georgia cases are being reported in Atlanta, where Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms herself has tested positive for the virus.

The big picture: Kemp, who was one of the first governors in the country to ease lockdown restrictions, extended some mitigation measures on Wednesday, requiring restaurants and businesses to observe social distancing and restrict gatherings to less than 50 people.

  • He has also ordered COVID-19-vulnerable populations, including the elderly and immunocompromised, to continue sheltering in place.
  • Kemp's latest order will expire at the end of the month.

Go deeper

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
Oct 23, 2020 - Health

U.S. hits highest daily COVID-19 case count since pandemic began

Expand chart
COVID Tracking Project

The U.S. confirmed at least 83,010 coronavirus cases on Friday, the country's highest daily total since the pandemic started, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

By the numbers: Friday's total surpassed the U.S.'s previous record set on July 17 when 76,842 cases were recorded. 

Oct 23, 2020 - Health

Fauci: Trump hasn't been to a COVID task force meeting in months

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump has not attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting in “several months,” NIAID director Anthony Fauci told MSNBC on Friday.

Why it matters: At the beginning of the pandemic, the task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, met every day, but in the "last several weeks," members have held virtual meetings once a week, Fauci said, even as the number of new cases continues to surge in the country.