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Coronavirus updates: Georgia bans cities and counties from requiring masks

ABC News logo ABC News 7/16/2020
a man and a woman walking down a street: Commuters arrive at South Station in Boston, MA on July 14, 2020. © Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images Commuters arrive at South Station in Boston, MA on July 14, 2020.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 584,000 people worldwide.

Over 13.5 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their nations' outbreaks.

The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 3.4 million diagnosed cases and at least 137,419 deaths.

Latest headlines:

  • Georgia bans local mask mandates
  • U.S. coroavirus cases near 3.5 million
  • Here is how the news is developing today. All times Eastern. Check back for updates.

    5:42 a.m..: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp bans local mask rules

    Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order Wednesday night, which outright banned cities and counties in the state from issuing mask orders to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

    The move, despite neighboring states like Alabama requiring masks in public, voided mask mandates in 15 local jurisdictions in the Peach State where they had been implemented.

    While outlawing mask mandates, Kemp's executive order "strongly" encourages all residents and visitors in Georgia to "wear face coverings as practicable while outside their homes or place of residence, except when editing, drinking or exercising outdoors."

    Kemp's order comes after Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottom issued an executive order requiring masks or face coverings in the city on July 8.

    The state, according to an internal Federal Emergency Management Agency memo obtained by ABC News, has a test-positivity rate greater than 10%, with record numbers of new cases in rural, urban and suburban areas alike.

    Georgia has had more than 127,838 diagnosed cases of coronavirus, with at least 3,091 deaths.

    a group of people walking down the street talking on a cell phone: Commuters arrive at South Station in Boston, MA on July 14, 2020. © Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images Commuters arrive at South Station in Boston, MA on July 14, 2020.

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