The morning after Brian Kemp’s “surreal” town hall that did little to reassure Georgians who have demanded action on the COVID-19 pandemic, an article by Pew’s Stateline illustrated that Kemp’s reluctance to use his emergency powers has created “confusion and rebellion” across the state, risking Georgia’s preparedness for the pandemic. The coronavirus is expected to be “particularly brutal” in Georgia, which ranks 10th nationally for confirmed cases and is 6th in the nation for COVID-19 deaths.
Compared to other governors around the country, Kemp has been “circumspect with his new authority” and has “refrained from aggressive social isolation policies” — despite receiving more emergency powers than any other governor in Georgia history. Says Stateline:
“[Kemp] urged people to pick up food at local eateries instead of shuttering restaurants and used his bully pulpit to preach social distancing instead of ordering all Georgians to shelter in place. He suspended a few minor regulations — but took no drastic action.”
Kemp has avoided taking meaningful statewide action to slow the spread of the virus, as his administration “struggled to expand its testing capabilities” and offers of help from medical labs go unanswered. Earlier this week, Kemp’s reluctance caused the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to call for the governor to take dramatic action in a rare editorial.
Throughout the piece, health care professionals expressed growing alarm over the administration’s failure to act:
“For the first time in my career, I’m scared to go to work,” said one nurse, who works at a large Georgia hospital, but asked Stateline not to share their personal information for fear of retribution. “We are being forced to reuse N95 masks and we don’t have enough [personal protective equipment]. We are fighting a war without weapons and I’ve never felt more abandoned by our government.”
One doctor who has been exposed to the virus and still hasn’t received results stressed that without Kemp taking immediate action, this pandemic could be a catastrophe:
Dr. Heval Kelli, a Kurdish refugee and cardiology fellow in Atlanta, who was exposed to COVID-19 and is awaiting test results, thinks Kemp needs to take immediate action. If not, Kelli fears that Georgia’s rising caseload will spike beyond control.
“The world is watching our mistakes and learning from it,” Kelli said. “We need to shut down the state. We are about to be New York in a few weeks if we don’t take it seriously. Look at the numbers, they don’t lie.”
Read the full piece from Stateline here.