When Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced she would sign a mask-wearing ordinance Wednesday, she wasn’t just protecting her citizens—she was adding fire to a growing revolt over Gov. Brian Kemp’s refusal to mandate face coverings in Georgia.
“Atlanta is going to do it today because the fact of the matter is that COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on our city, specifically black and brown communities with higher death rates,” said the mayor, who recently tested positive for the coronavirus, making hers the third and largest city to defy Kemp’s orders.
While Kemp has encouraged Georgians to mask up in public spaces—and even embarked on a “Wear a Mask” campaign to that effect—he has repeatedly said that a mandate is unnecessary and discouraged local governments from instituting them. His latest order, issued as cases in Georgia reached record levels, extended existing COVID-19 safety measures but did not require masks. Previous orders have barred local governments from enforcing public safety orders that exceed the governor’s.
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