brian kemp

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp Bans Local Mask Mandates as Pandemic Surges

His fealty to Trump will cost countless lives.
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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.”

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:

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.”

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.”

(via Fox 5 Atlanta, image: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.