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Atlanta mayor says Georgia governor's reopening of state will be "deadly"

Atlanta mayor on governor reopening Georgia
Atlanta mayor on governor's decision to start reopening Georgia 08:47

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Wednesday expressed her disagreement with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp's decision to re-open the state, claiming it will be "deadly" for many people in her community. 

"It concerns me deeply that we are still seeing an upward trend in our state and we are rushing to reopen businesses," she said on CBSN. 

"What I've said is I hope the governor is right and I'm wrong, because if he's wrong more people will die," Bottoms added.

Kemp announced plans Monday to restart Georgia's economy before the end of the week, saying many businesses that closed to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus could reopen as early as Friday. The timetable would allow gyms, hair salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors to reopen, as long as owners follow strict social-distancing and hygiene requirements. Elective medical procedures would also resume. By Monday, movie theaters may resume selling tickets, and restaurants limited to takeout orders could return to limited dine-in service.

As of Wednesday, Georgia had 836 deaths due to the coronavirus, 84 of which were reported in Atlanta's Fulton County, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Bottoms said she understands the motivation to restart the economy, but believes the government should instead focus on making stay-at-home orders "more palatable" for people. She named removing obstacles to small business loans, staying evictions, and suspending bill payment as some of the ways leaders could help residents while protecting public health. 

Bottoms said Kemp did not speak with her or other mayors in the state ahead of his announcement, but said the two leaders have plans to talk later this week. 

"I understand that the governor wants the economy to get moving again, but the economy is something that concerns those who are amongst the living," she said. "If our communities are dying, and our hospitals are overrun and beyond capacity like we've seen in other cities, then the economy will be the least of our concern."

As part of the state's reopening safety guidelines, cosmetology workers are required to wear personal protective equipment, and can consider providing masks and other PPE to clients. They are also being told to disinfect or dispose of items and wash hands between clients. In response, Bottoms said she's "never seen anyone receive a haircut from someone who stood six feet away from them."

"I think it's ridiculous," she added.

The mayor called the PPE guidelines "nonsensical," noting that she has struggled to secure PPE for Atlanta's sanitation workers. "So you now are expecting the barber to go out and compete in the open marketplace for masks for every customer who comes in?"

"Don't listen to me, don't listen to the governor, don't listen to the president," Bottoms said. "Listen to the scientists, listen to the public health professionals, listen to the men and women who are going in our hospitals day in and day out. What are they saying? Their messaging is consistent, and it is 'please stay home to help save lives.'" 

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