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.

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22 hours ago - Health

CDC changes "close contact" guidance for COVID-19

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Noam Galai, Jamie McCarthy, Josep LAGO / AFP, Alfredo ESTRELLA / AFP, and Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto, all via Getty Images

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its definition of who is considered a “close contact” of an individual infected with the coronavirus in a report released Wednesday.

Why it matters: The update is likely to pose challenges for schools, workplaces and other group settings as the U.S. prepares for a third coronavirus wave. It also reinforces the importance of masks in the face of President Trump’s repeated attempts to belittle their efficacy.

Oct 21, 2020 - Health

New York reports most coronavirus cases since May

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at an Oct. 6 press briefing. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York reported over 2,000 positive coronavirus cases on Wednesday — the most infections seen in the state since May, per COVID Tracking Project (CTP) and health department data.

The big picture: Hospitalizations have been creeping back up in New York, alongside 38 other states. New York is currently seeing more than 900 hospitalizations a day, the CTP reports.