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An alarming increase in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 moved Gov. Brian Kemp on June 29 to extend social distancing rules for businesses and stay-at-home orders for the state’s most vulnerable populations for another two weeks.

Locally, Butts County saw its number of confirmed cases go from 247 on June 22 up to 265 cases on June 29. The number of deaths in Butts County confirmed by the Department of Public Health to be from COVID-19 increased by one over the last seven days to 33 deaths.

The number of deaths at Westbury Medical Care and Rehab has remained steady at 34 for the last three weeks. A total of 123 residents tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March, but as of June 29, 84 of those residents have recovered from the virus.

The governor's orders announced Monday continue to ban gatherings of more than 50 people unless there is at least six feet of distance between them and require restaurants, bars and other businesses to keep their establishments routinely sanitized.

Kemp also urged the use of masks in public, but is not requiring masks be worn as some other governors have done.

"As we continue our fight against COVID-19 in Georgia, it is vital that Georgians continue to heed public health guidance by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly and practicing social distancing," the governor said.

Georgians in long-term elderly care facilities and those with chronic health conditions will need to remain sheltered in place through July 15.

The governor also plans to extend the state’s public health emergency until Aug. 11, granting him more than a month to continue tapping into broad powers that allow him to issue executive orders.

Georgia saw 13,489 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the last seven days. On June 22 there were 65,928 cases, and on June 29 the number was 79,417. The number of deaths also increased from 2,648 last week to 2,784 this week.

In the eight-county area surrounding and including Butts County, there have been a total of 2,756 confirmed cases, 133 deaths, and 337 hospitalizations as of 3 p.m on June 29. Here are the counts:

• Henry: 1,141 confirmed, 33 deaths, 109 hospitalizations

• Newton: 571 confirmed, 11 deaths, 86 hospitalizations

• Spalding: 383 confirmed, 32 deaths, 61 hospitalizations

• Butts: 265 confirmed, 33 deaths, 29 hospitalizations

• Monroe: 156 confirmed, 17 deaths, 26 hospitalizations

• Lamar: 112 confirmed, 6 deaths, 13 hospitalizations

• Jasper: 66 confirmed, 1 death, 8 hospitalizations

• Jones: 62 confirmed, 0 deaths, 5 hospitalizations

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