Months after reopening the state and weeks of the steady relaxing of coronavirus restrictions, Georgia just breezed past its previous record of new daily cases of COVID-19.
For Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, it’s proof to her that the state is now paying the price for reopening too soon, she said.
“We were one of the first states to open up, and so I think opening up so aggressively, we’re now paying for it on the back-end,” she said during an interview with MSNBC host Chris Hayes on Tuesday night.
The mayor’s comments came amid the “All In America” roundtable discussion with several of the country’s mayors, hosted by the cable news network.
Though the discussion mostly focused on the local and national effects of systemic racism and policing in America, Bottoms also took questions submitted by Atlantans, including one on voter suppression in the wake of Georgia’s disappointing primary problems.
But she also took time to address the raging coronavirus pandemic, too, especially the impact it has on Georgia’s populous capitol city, which she helps govern.
“When you look at the rates of asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure – especially in black and brown communities – it puts Atlanta at even higher risk,” she said.
Increasing levels of the virus and scenes of packed bars and public spaces in the city and beyond have health experts warning that the pandemic could soon be out of control and beyond reigning in – leading to a strain on hospitals and frontline workers.
Indeed, restrictions on crowd sizes for bars, restaurants, movie theaters, live performance venues and more have largely evaporated, but the number of new confirmed cases – which state officials have consistently been explaining as the result in an increase in testing – has not slowed.
Gov. Brian Kemp, whom Mayor Bottoms has largely stood in opposition to when it comes to reopening, kicked off a statewide tour Wednesday asking for Georgians to wear masks. While Kemp did extend some restrictions and the state’s public health emergency, he has stopped short of mandating masks in public spaces across the state.
Still, Bottoms, who posted a warning on social media Tuesday, said the data shows cases are rising and people everywhere need to follow guidelines and slow the spread.