Georgia officials send mixed messages on masks: Attorney general says 'wear a mask' despite suing Atlanta over mandate to do so
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr filed a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta over its mask mandate. Both Kemp and Carr still encouraged residents to wear masks, despite the fact that Kemp signed an executive order banning localities from enforcing mask mandates of their own. Their actions have sent mixed messages on the issue. Carr said: "This lawsuit is about the rule of law." Some were critical of the lawsuit, saying it distracts from needed work addressing the state's surging coronavirus cases.
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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp sued the city of Atlanta over its local mask ordinance after Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she would defy the state order that barred localities from creating their own ordinances. On Wednesday, Kemp barred localities from implementing their own mandates to wear a face-covering to stem the spread of COVID-19 and also issued on executive order extending the state of public emergency. While masks were not required he said they were "strongly encouraged" but not required, Business Insider reported. Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr filed the lawsuit against Bottoms, who on Wednesday said she'd defy the order and the Atlanta City Council to block the city's mandate. Meanwhile, the governor has encouraged the use of masks and face coverings but has refused to allow localities to enforce their own mandates, sending mixed messages on the use of masks. Carr also tweeted that the state was still "urging" residents to wear masks. "The State of Georgia continues to urge citizens to wear masks. This lawsuit is about the rule of law," Carr tweeted.
The Constitution gives @GovKemp chief executive power for the State, including during a public health state of emergency. The @CityofAtlanta cannot continue to knowingly enter orders that are unenforceable and void.https://t.co/yRSQZYDtgo — GA AG Chris Carr (@Georgia_AG) July 16, 2020
Bottoms has been vocal about opposing Kemps positions on mask mandates. "It's my belief that the city of Atlanta still has the appropriate standing to mandate masks," Bottoms said at a press conference Thursday. "Especially as it relates to buildings and places that we own and operate." In response to the news, some wondered how the financial toll of the lawsuit could have been used to assist with coronavirus relief.
I wonder much $$$ this lawsuit is costing the state of Georgia, and how much testing, tracing, masks, and resources for schools could have been purchased with it? https://t.co/d1dsCA7E2l — Esther Choo, MD MPH (@choo_ek) July 16, 2020
"I wonder much $$$ this lawsuit is costing the state of Georgia, and how much testing, tracing, masks, and resources for schools could have been purchased with it?" one doctor tweeted. Others were concerned that the move distracted from Georgia's surging coronavirus cases, where more than 3,000 new cases were recorded on Thursday alone. The state has recorded over 131,2oo coronavirus cases with over 3,100 deaths. According to WIFR, at least 15 cities and counties have previously ordered masks and were upset by the governor's orders to remove their mandates. "How can we take care of our local needs when our state ties our hands behind our back and then says 'Ignore the advice of experts?'" Savannah Mayor Van Johnson asked in a news conference. Johnson told MSNBC that the governor's guidelines were not consistent. "Everybody's confused. We're getting mixed messages from everywhere, and this is a time that we should be talking with one very clear, very consistent voice," he told the outlet. Many other states have implemented rules to allow localities to enforce mask mandates including in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Texas. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Inside London during COVID-19 lockdown
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