CORONAVIRUS

Atlanta Mayor Says Governor 'Completely Unreasonable,' Vows To Fight Mask Lawsuit

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said her efforts to mandate masks in the city "follow the science and the data."

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Monday that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp was attempting to silence her amid surging rates of the coronavirus in the state, vowing to fight his attempts to overturn a mask mandate in her city “with everything we have.” 

“He obviously wants to silence my voice,” Bottoms told MSNBC’s Joy Reid during the debut of her new program, “The ReidOut.”

“In a time when we are in the midst of a pandemic, we need as many voices as we can have as possible sounding the alarm, encouraging people to wear masks, and to take all precautions, and to follow the science and the data,” she said.

“It is completely unreasonable the course that this governor has put us on,” she added. 

The comments come amid an ongoing feud in the state between Bottoms, a Democrat, and the Republican governor. Kemp sued the mayor and other city council members last week over their efforts to require face masks in public places, saying the rules were stricter than those he set out statewide and could not be enforced. Bottoms has argued the mask orders she’s trying to implement are in line with public health recommendations released by the White House.

“Georgia reopened in a reckless manner and the people of our city and state are suffering the consequences,” she said earlier this month as she announced the rollback to stricter guidelines meant to stop the spread of the COVID-19.

A judge is set to hear arguments on the lawsuit Tuesday.

In Georgia, which was one of the first states in the nation to reopen following an initial shutdown order, cases of the virus have surged. More than 132,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19, and the state set a new record for single-day cases on Saturday.

While Kemp has voided mask orders in many localities, the governor has singled out Bottoms with the lawsuit while vowing “to stop these reckless actions and put people over pandemic politics.”

“We have people, local mayors, that are playing politics,” Kemp said on Fox News last Friday. “They want to go back to shelter-in-place. They want to stop in-person dining with no notice, just pulling the rug out from under people, and I’m just not going to allow that to happen.” 

The governor has stressed that he is, in fact, encouraging residents to wear masks, but said he was “confident that Georgians don’t need a mandate to do the right thing.”

Bottoms initially took to social media to blast the lawsuit, saying too many had “sacrificed … for me to be silent.” She doubled down on those frustrations in her interview with Reid on Monday.

“The insanity of this with Brian Kemp is that the recommendations regarding our businesses, our advisory, voluntary recommendations,” she said. “This governor is suing me personally for making voluntary recommendations to people on face guidelines, and these guidelines are based on where we are with COVID.”

She continued: “It’s based on metrics, it’s based on science, it’s based on data.”

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