Michael Stipe has called for the University of Georgia and Georgia governor Brian Kemp to up their efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 in R.E.M.’s hometown of Athens.
Stipe wrote an editorial for The Guardian stating that the return of students “has upended this sense of relative safety. Athens-Clarke county — the smallest county in a very large state — now has the highest two-week total of new cases for any of Georgia’s 159 counties, and one of the highest per capita in the nation, and it has seen the number of deaths due to COVID-19 more than double in just the past six weeks.”
Stipe wants bars and other close-quarters environments limited to outdoor seating, gatherings cut below the 50 now allowed, no fans in the stands at university football games and for the university to up its free testing. He added, “The safety we create this fall and winter will make all those gatherings and events in future years more meaningful when this pandemic is behind us, having been shared by our friends and loved ones emerging with their health and lives intact.”