The Mayor of Atlanta has signed an ordinance that prescribes masks in Georgia’s largest city
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signed the order on Wednesday to request masks that could trigger a confrontation with Republican Kemp. The governor recently argued with the mayor over police issues and called on the National Guard to protect government offices after an 8-year-old girl was fatally shot by armed people on the premises of a fast-food restaurant that included an Atlanta policeman a black man had been shot.
“We will continue to take active measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 infections in Atlanta,” Bottoms said in a statement. “Public health experts largely agree that wearing a face cover slows the spread of this sometimes fatal virus.”
Like a number of other local leaders in Georgia, Bottoms Kemp has unsuccessfully asked to change its order that local governments should not exceed the state’s requirements.
“Other cities have taken the approach to oppose the governor’s executive ordinance. Savannah did it, several other cities did it, and Atlanta will do it today, ”Bottoms told MSNBC in a Wednesday interview. “Because the fact is that COVID-19 is devastating our cities, especially black and brown communities with higher mortality rates.”
The Kemp spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comments on Wednesday. Kemp asked the mayor and district commissioner on Tuesday to help him with a nationwide initiative to voluntarily mask.
“We don’t need a mandate for the Georgians to do the right thing, but we need to build strong public support,” Kemp told the mayors after comments prepared by his office.
Bottoms announced on Monday that it tested positive for COVID-19. Joe Biden viewed the Democrat as his vice president.
The dispute over masks escalated as the state again recorded a new high number of cases confirmed daily and people hospitalized with COVID-19. The number of people in hospitals rose to more than 2,200 on Wednesday, while confirmed infections jumped by more than 3,400 and the total government figure increased to 104,000.
Officials across the state are increasingly concerned that hospitals are full and government-run test sites are crowded.
Data released on Wednesday showed that 82% of intensive care beds in Georgia are in use, although not every patient in an intensive care bed has COVID-19. In three of the state’s 14 hospital regions, less than 6% of intensive care beds were available, including Athens, Valdosta and the northwest suburbs of Atlanta.
In the suburbs of DeKalb and Gwinnett, officials are moving to extend working hours at test sites and say there is more demand than they can meet.
Atlanta would not be the first place in Georgia to prescribe facewear. Savannah and the suburb of Atlanta, East Point, were accompanied by Athens-Clarke County on Tuesday. At least three other suburbs of Atlanta – Fairburn, South Fulton and Doraville – are considering moving. Michael Thurmond, CEO of DeKalb County, said Tuesday that he believes that a mask mandate in his large suburb would put the police in a legally impossible position to violate state law, but at least one DeKalb County commissioner still wants one Vote on this.
Atlanta’s move could be more difficult to ignore for Kemp, as the State Capitol, Governor’s Mansion, and many state government headquarters are in the city. State universities previously claimed that state property was exempt from Savannah’s mask regulation before they decided to require masks. It is unclear whether Kemp and government agencies could make the same claim about state property in Atlanta.
John Ernst, the Mayor of the Brookhaven suburb in Atlanta, said he agreed with others and said the police had questionable legal powers to enforce a mask ban without Kemp’s permission.
“Everyone doesn’t know what to do with this virus because it’s hyperpolitical,” he said.
Follow all of AP’s pandemic reporting at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.