(The Center Square) – Not long after President Donald Trump said Wednesday he disagreed with Gov. Brian Kemp's decision to start reopening Georgia's economy on Friday, Kemp took to Twitter to defend his decision.
"Earlier today, I discussed Georgia's plan to reopen shuttered businesses for limited operations with [President Trump]," Kemp tweeted. "I appreciate his bold leadership and insight during these difficult times and the framework provided by the White House to safely move states forward.
"Our next measured step is driven by data and guided by state public health officials. We will continue with this approach to protect the lives – and livelihoods – of all Georgians."
Kemp issued an executive order Monday allowing gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, nail technicians and beauty schools to reopen Friday. Theaters, private social clubs and dine-in restaurants can reopen Monday with some restrictions.
Much criticism has been leveled at Kemp since his announcement, mostly from Democrats and scientists who say the Republican governor is opening the state too soon based on COVID-19 data and models.
Trump joined the critics during his daily coronavirus task force briefing Wednesday.
"I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree, strongly, with his decision to open certain facilities which are in violation of the phase one guidelines," Trump said. "... At the same time, he must do what he thinks is right. I want him to do what he thinks is right, but I disagree with him on what he's doing."
As of Wednesday evening, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported 21,102 COVID-19 cases in the state, including 846 deaths. More than 4,000 people have been hospitalized.
Thirty-one new cases were reported Wednesday. On April 8, two weeks ago, 734 new cases were reported. Georgia's peak day was April 14, when 844 new cases were reported.
Georgia classifies confirmed cases of COVID-19 by date of earliest known sign of illness, so daily case counts could change based on test results.
Georgia ranks 12th in the U.S. for states with the most COVID-19 cases.