ATLANTA - Gov. Brian Kemp will visit several Georgia cities to encourage citizens to wear masks, and practice social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The announcement comes as the Georgia Department of Public Health is reporting a record-high number of COVID-19 cases. Over the weekend, the state saw the largest increase in reported cases in a 24-hour period.
"These numbers are alarming and let's just be clear they are not just due to an increase in testing," Dr. Patrice Harris told FOX 5's Deidra Dukes.
Dr. Harris, a former public health official and immediate past president of the American Medical Association, says the current numbers are like a snapshot in time, a reflection of what was going on two weeks ago when cities started easing restrictions. People began going out more and some stopped wearing masks. Dr. Harris says she hasn't seen any data indicating a correlation between the spike in cases and demonstrations carried out across the country in recent weeks.
"But certainly there is increased risk of spread anytime people are together, not staying six feet apart not practicing social distancing but most importantly not wearing a mask," Harris said.
The Governor's office announced Monday afternoon that Governor Kemp will travel to Albany, Columbus, Dalton, Augusta, Savannah, and Valdosta this week to encourage citizens to follow COVID-19 public health guidelines. Dr. Harris says such measures are still the most effective means of preventing the spread of coronavirus.
Download the FOX 5 Atlanta app for breaking news and weather alerts.
"It is really important for all of us to do what we can to mitigate the spread. We don't want to get to the point where we are overwhelming our hospital capacity."
Kemp is also working with The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security agency to distribute roughly three million cloth masks to local governments and schools starting this week.
While the spike in cases is cause for concern, state officials note that Georgia's COVID fatality rate is the lowest it's been since April 15, and that data from the Georgia Department of Public Health indicates, through contact tracing, that case increases seem to be connected primarily to workplace settings, houses of worship and social gatherings.
RELATED: CoronavirusNOW.com, FOX launches national hub for COVID-19 news and updates.