On Thursday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp sued Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over the city’s mask mandate.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said, “The State of Georgia continues to urge citizens to wear masks. This lawsuit is about the rule of law.”
Kemp, a Republican, sued Bottoms, a Democrat, and other members of Atlanta’s City Council. The lawsuit argues that the Atlanta mayor exceeded her authority in issuing COVID-19-related orders that are more restrictive than the state’s orders.
On Wednesday, the Georgia governor issued his executive order, which banned over a dozen local governments from mandating that facemasks be worn in public.
A spokesperson for Atlanta’s mayor said the mayor’s order remained in effect and the city would be guided by data and science. The spokesperson added, “masks save lives.”
Bottoms was defiant after Kemp’s lawsuit, noting that more than 3,000 Georgians have died and that she and her family are among the ones who have tested positive for the virus.
She said, “A better use of taxpayer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing. If being sued by the State is what it takes to save lives in Atlanta, then we will see them in court.”
In Georgia, public health officials reported 131,275 confirmed cases as of Thursday, with 3,104 deaths.
On Wednesday, the state health officials 3,871 new cases, the second-highest daily total since the pandemic began.
Carr said that chief executive power in the state resides with the governor. He said, “The City of Atlanta cannot continue to knowingly enter orders that are unenforceable and void.”
Kemp’s spokeswoman Candice Broce tweeted that the governor was not against wearing facemasks.
Broce wrote, “Previous executive orders — and now this order — state no local action can be more or less restrictive than ours. We have explained that local mask mandates are unenforceable. The Governor continues to strongly encourage Georgians to wear masks in public.”
Nationwide, public health officials have reported over 3.6 million cases, with more than 141,000 deaths. Most of the victims have been senior citizens but the officials have been blaming young people crowding into bars and restaurants and failing to practice social distancing or even wearing masks. Globally, the virus has sickened more than 13 million people and killed over 592,000 so far.