A little more than a week after President Donald Trump claimed that he had “total authority” to reopen the economy in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic (a statement that he subsequently backed down from) and after weeks of seeking ways to resume business as usual, Trump is now saying that he does not agree with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s decision to reopen businesses in the southern state as soon as Friday.
“I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree, strongly, with his decision to open certain facilities,” Trump said, according to USA Today, adding that the state has not satisfied the White House’s recommended guidelines for reopening, which is about 14 days of sustained decline in infections.
Georgia is expected to open gyms, hair and nail salons, massage parlors and tattoo shops on Friday. Churches can be opened for services over the weekend. By Monday, patrons will be able to dine in restaurants and go to the movies.
Trump noted that it was “just too soon” for such a plan, adding that he loves Georgia, “but they can wait a little bit longer…. Just a little bit, not much.”
Still, Trump said that the final decision was up to the governor to “do what he thinks is right.”
This, as USA Today notes, is not quite the same tone the President struck on Tuesday, when he was asked about Georgia’s plans to reopening, as he called Kemp a “very capable man” who “knows what he’s doing.”
Nonetheless, Kemp has brushed aside the sudden criticism, noting that while he appreciated Trump’s “bold leadership and insight,” he would continue with the plans he had laid out “to protect the lives—and livelihoods—of all Georgians.”
“I think one of these things that has gotten out of control on the national level is people think we are throwing the keys back to these businesses and that it’s going to be business as usual and it’s not,” Kemp said, further defending his position on Fox 5 Atlanta.
Still, not all Georgians are convinced, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who faced off against Kemp in the 2018 elections.
“I am using my voice to encourage people. Follow the data, look at the science, listen to the health care professionals and use your common sense,” Bottoms said. “Simply because we have hospital beds available doesn’t mean that we should work to fill them up.”
“Georgia: 14th highest infection/7th lowest testing rate; less econ resilient & 1000s of low-wage workers already forced to risk their lives to make a living,” Abrams tweeted out, adding her voice to the discussion. “Weakened healthcare w/closed rural hospitals, no Medicaid expansion & a doctor shortage. Reopen? Dangerously incompetent.”