Atlanta Mayor Defends Legal Face-Off With Georgia’s Governor Over Masks

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom, seen right here in 2018, has referred to as for necessary masks sporting in her metropolis. Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence disguise caption

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Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom, seen right here in 2018, has referred to as for necessary masks sporting in her metropolis.

Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence

Democratic Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp are going through off in a authorized battle over masks mandates.

Bottoms issued an executive order on July 8 requiring folks to put on masks in Atlanta. Kemp sued, saying her coverage violates his govt order, which strongly encourages masks sporting however doesn’t require it. Kemp stated counties and municipalities couldn’t make their very own guidelines that have been both roughly restrictive than his statewide guidelines.

The two sides have been negotiating to settle the case. A courtroom listening to scheduled for Tuesday was canceled to proceed talks.

“We’ll see” if a negotiated answer is feasible, Bottoms informed NPR’s Ari Shapiro. “The most important thing is that we continue to keep at the forefront of every decision that we make the health and safety of the people who call Atlanta home. And what we know from our health professionals is that wearing masks goes a very, very long way in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Bottoms talked with All Things Considered concerning the authorized dispute and the upcoming faculty 12 months. Here are excerpts:

Gov. Kemp’s place is that mayors can not implement public well being insurance policies that transcend his govt orders. Why do you consider a mayor ought to have the ability to override a governor on a difficulty like this?

Well, there are lots of authorized theories on this, amongst them together with the truth that it is believed that the governor’s emergency order exceeded his powers as governor. …

At the tip of the day, the governor belongs to a celebration that always speaks about native management and sometimes elevates the necessity and need for native municipalities to have the ability to make their very own choices because it pertains to any variety of issues, together with once we entered the COVID-19 disaster and faculties have been making choices on whether or not or not they’d shut; the governor deferred to native management on these choices.

It is my perception {that a} masks mandate can also be one thing that native management ought to rule on. The motive being, we all know that our numbers are very, very excessive in Atlanta. … And the one approach that we’re going to get to the opposite facet of COVID-19 is to begin making good choices about how we proceed with the well being and security of our residents. And a part of that, it is quite simple: sporting a masks.

Let me additionally ask you about plans for the brand new faculty 12 months. One of your 4 kids examined optimistic for [the coronavirus] and also you and your husband did as nicely. How does that have because the father or mother of a school-age little one who had the illness have an effect on your fascinated with whether or not Atlanta college students can safely return to highschool in individual?

My concern actually is one which’s born out of our expertise as a result of, once more, we had one in all our youngsters to check optimistic, asymptomatic, after which my husband and I grew to become contaminated per week later. This is what our academics, our custodians, our cafeteria staff, our bus drivers and so many others will face when our youngsters return to highschool. Not to say lots of our youngsters in Atlanta have larger than the nationwide common charges of bronchial asthma. Asthma is quite common with African American kids. African American kids usually tend to die from bronchial asthma than different races. And so there are a selection of issues, together with our youngsters then maybe being asymptomatic after which going dwelling and infecting and impacting their households. And we all know in Black and brown communities, COVID-19 is extra more likely to be lethal. …

As mayor, I do not management the faculties, per our metropolis constitution. It’s an independently elected faculty board together with [an] independently appointed superintendent. But that being stated, we’re working very carefully with our new superintendent to ensure that our youngsters have what they want in order that they are often ready for varsity this fall.

Gus Contreras and Courtney Dorning produced and edited the audio story.

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