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Stacey Abrams began trending on U.S. Twitter on Thursday after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp admitted having only recently learned that asymptomatic individuals can spread the coronavirus — despite warnings from health experts as early as January.
Kemp, a Republican, said in a news conference Wednesday that the information led to his statewide shelter-in-place order in Georgia.
“This virus is now transmitting before people see signs,” Kemp said. “We didn’t know that until the last 24 hours.”
He added that Kathleen Toomey, the state health commissioner, told him, “This is a game changer for us.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based in Atlanta, warned as early as Feb. 12 that the coronavirus could be spread by asymptomatic people. In January, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said there was “no doubt” that “asymptomatic transmission is occurring.”
There were 5,444 confirmed cases and 176 deaths related to the coronavirus in the state as of Thursday night, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Kemp’s admission garnered public outcry on Twitter, with many saying Abrams would have responded in a timely manner to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 if she had been governor.
Abrams, a Democrat, lost the 2018 election for governor to Kemp, the secretary of state at the time, even though she accused him of mismanaging the election system through voter suppression.
Abrams was the first African American woman nominated for governor by a major party. She later became the first African American woman to deliver a response to the president’s State of the Union address, in February 2019.
Abrams started trending shortly after Kemp’s news conference was posted.
Abrams’ name has been floated as a potential vice presidential pick for the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, Joe Biden.
In an MSNBC interview Wednesday, Abrams told Craig Melvin that she “would be happy to serve” as Biden’s running mate.