Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has banned other state leaders from mandating masks, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. According to CBS 46 in Atlanta, Kemp's new order is to clarify for all Georgia city and county leaders that his orders are above all others. This would include a recent mandate that was issued by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
The order reads: "Any state, county, or municipal law, order, ordinance, rule, or regulation that requires persons to wear face coverings, masks, or shields, or any other Personal Protective Equipment while in places of public accommodation or public property are suspended to the extent that they are more restrictive than this Executive Order." Notably, Atlanta is not the only Georgia city with a mask mandate, as Brookhaven, East Point, College Park, Athens and Savannah all do as well. Kemp's new order comes as his state recorded almost 4,000 news cases of coronavirus on Wednesday alone. Additionally, 2,800 people are were reported hospitalized that day due to Covid-19, and 37 people died. This is the the highest number of daily coronavirus deaths for the state since June 25, per date from Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Govenor Brian Kemp signed an executive order yesterday explicitly banning cities and counties from mandating masks/face coverings in public. pic.twitter.com/hP5TbTEstN— Everything Georgia (@GAFollowers) July 16, 2020
Epidemiologist Keren Landman spoke with CBS 46 and expressed her concerns over Kemp's new order's, pointing out that even many businesses are starting to require customers to wear masks. "Walmart is now mandating mask, the state of Alabama is now mandating mask, where is Georgia?," Dr. Landman asked. "It's disappointing and it's very hard to understand how it actually benefits public health." She went on to say that wearing a mask is simply a health matter and that she can't understand why he would want to prohibit other state leaders from making the choice for their local communities. "It's really hard to figure out what motivation there might be to this that's not political," she said.
Regarding Walmart's new policy, which Dr. Landman noted, the company previously explained, "As the number of confirmed cases has spiked in communities across the country recently, so too have the number and types of face covering mandates being implemented." The company added, "To help bring consistency across stores and clubs, we will require all shoppers to wear a face covering starting Monday, July 20. This will give us time to inform customers and members of the changes, post signage and train associates on the new protocols."