Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp Bans Local Mask Mandates as Pandemic Surges
His fealty to Trump will cost countless lives.
Amid the country’s COVID-19 surge, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has voided mask orders that were in effect in 15 local governments across his state. The move is part of an executive order of revised state guidelines, which reads “State, county, or municipal law, order, ordinance, rule, or regulation that requires persons to wear face coverings, masks, face shields, or any other Personal Protective Equipment while in places of public accommodation or on public property are suspended to the extent that they are more restrictive than this Executive Order.”
Previous executive orders – and now this order – state no local action can be more or less restrictive than ours. We have explained that local mask mandates are unenforceable. The Governor continues to strongly encourage Georgians to wear masks in public. https://t.co/MpxkPUkmBL
— Candice Broce (@candicebroce) July 16, 2020
This comes after Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom’s own executive order which mandates masks in public places (the mayor has tested positive for COVID-19.) Kemp responded by saying, “Like all of the local mask mandates, Mayor Bottoms’ order is unenforceable. We continue to encourage Georgians to do the right thing and wear a mask voluntarily. If the Mayor wants to flatten the curve in Atlanta, she should start enforcing the current provisions of the Governor’s orders.”
Ah yes, the mask honor system. Because that’s been working so well for everyone so far. Many local mayors and government officials called out Kemp for his reckless order and for endangering the lives of Georgians. Savannah Mayor Van Johnson tweeted the following response:
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!
— Mayor Van Johnson (@MayorJohnsonSAV) July 16, 2020
Kelly Girtz, mayor of the Athens-Clarke County unified government, said in an email, “It is increasingly clear from medical and scientific data that droplet and aerosol transmission of COVID-19 are an enormous community risk, so I made the decision to supplement the governor’s order with a local mask requirement to provide for greater community safety.”
This has led to a clash between state and local governments over who exactly has the jurisdiction to require masks. Meanwhile, hospitals are approaching capacity and the virus continues to spread. Kemp was previously criticized for reopening the state too early, while keeping the governor’s mansion closed for tours. Even Donald Trump took Kemp to task for opening too early.
Former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams appeared on MSNBC to criticize Kemp for “following the lead of the incompetency and the immorality” of Trump, while adding, “He is too afraid of the consequences of leadership to actually demonstrate any.”
“From the beginning of this catastrophe, Brian Kemp has demonstrated that he has absolutely no competency in this process,” Stacey Abrams says of the governor’s decision to void local mask mandates. “What he continues to do is downplay … the deaths of Georgians.” pic.twitter.com/6gl5GPs2GB
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) July 16, 2020
Abrams continued, “More than 3,000 Georgians have perished, disproportionately Black and Brown Georgians, and he continues to fiddle while Rome burns, … This is not a man who’s capable of leadership.”
Unfortunately, it’s not tough to figure out why a guy who only won because of the surgical voter suppression he applied as Secretary of State wouldn’t let Democratic-leaning areas try to save their citizens’ lives. https://t.co/1jyS33rMK9
— The Mysterious LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) July 16, 2020
(via Fox 5 Atlanta, image: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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