Kemp says no mask mandate, calls on cities to enforce ‘executive orders.’ Talks about ‘political gains’ as targeting Atlanta in suit and ‘disastrous policies.’ Bottoms: ‘At the end of the day, this is about saving lives.’

Kemp says no mask mandate, calls on cities to enforce ‘executive orders.’ Talks about ‘political gains’ as targeting Atlanta in suit and ‘disastrous policies.’ Bottoms: ‘At the end of the day, this is about saving lives.’

 

Media briefing Friday morning with Gov. Brian Kemp. Also available at facebook.com/GovKemp or gpb.org/coronavirus.

  • At 8:27 a.m., Kemp takes the podium: He opens with general updates on the pandemic after thanking his pandemic team. Says Georgia is seeing more than 20,000 tests a day; says testing is still too slow and new partnership to be announced to increase capacity by 10,000 tests a day. He also asks “Georgians to do their part.” Asks residents to wear masks, social distance, wash your hands frequently and follow “executive orders.” He calls it four for four weeks. Mask mandate: “I’m confident Georgians don’t need a mandate to do the right thing.” Charges local leaders to “enforce current executive orders” and avoid “confusing” local ordinances. Challenges Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ decisions to mandate mask. Calls them “disastrous policies.”
  • In media questions, Kemp counters inquiry of his playing politics. He says the latest surge didn’t not come when the state reopened two months ago but — Kemp’s words — when the protests began.
  • First up: Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Commissioner, Georgia Department of Public Health. Topic: Opening public schools in coming weeks. Talks about prevention — she calls face coverings “the most powerful” prevention there is –, the return of “community spread” and outbreaks throughout the state (work places, frat houses, churches,  long-term healthcare facilities).
  • Next up: GEMA chief Homer Bryson, other members of the pandemic team

Earlier reactions from Georgia cities where mask mandate is in effect:

 

  • Above: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms interviewed by Today’s Savannah Guthrie on Friday morning.
  • Atlanta: “I am not afraid of the city being sued and I’ll put our policies up against anyone’s, any day of the week,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said during a video news conference, telling reporters the city’s order is still in effect.  “3104 Georgians have died and I and my family are amongst the 106k who have tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, I have been sued by @GovKemp for a mask mandate. A better use of tax payer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing. #ATLStrong.” (Georgia Health News).
  • Athens: The community will continue to enforce its mask mandate, Mayor Kelly Girtz said in an interview Thursday with The Red & The Black: ““We are maintaining our ordinance. It’s been in place for just eight days now, and our enforcement thus far has exclusively involved education and distribution of masks to individuals who didn’t have them. We always hold it in our power to use the fines that are embedded in our code.”
  • Savannah: Mayor Van Johnson slammed Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in a tweet on Wednesday after Kemp explicitly banned cities and counties in the state from ordering people to wear masks in public. According to CBS News, Johnson said the governor is ignoring science. “It is officially official. Governor Kemp does not give a damn about us. Every man and woman for himself/herself. Ignore the science and survive the best you can. In #Savannah, we will continue to keep the faith and follow the science. Masks will continue to be available!”
  • Rome: Said Mayor Bill Collins in a statement, “Ultimately, we want to protect our community against the spread of COVID-19 to prevent our medical facilities from being overwhelmed and running out of available beds and resources. At the end of the day, we simply want to protect our community, keep our citizens healthy and our businesses vibrant. As a city, we will continue to work hard to achieve those goals. As part of our continued efforts to promote health, safety and public welfare for our citizens, city of Rome employees will continue to wear face coverings at all times while engaged in face to face interaction with the public and also when proper social distancing of six feet is not feasible.”
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