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Georgia Governor Brian Kemp banned face mask ordinances in the state, saying face masks can't be enforced in any city or county in the state.

Kemp, a Republican, signed a new executive order on Wednesday night extending his previous EO after the state experienced a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

The new order keeps in place restrictions on public gatherings of 50 or more people.

The new order extends social distancing and shelter in place guidelines for nursing home patients and medically fragile.

But Kemp prohibited face mask mandates, saying face mask laws are "too restrictive" and violate the individual rights of healthy people who choose not to wear one.

While lawmakers such as Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in Atlanta have mandated face masks in their cities and counties, Gov. Kemp said the mask ordinances can not be enforced, meaning citizens who don't wear face masks will not be cited or fined.

Mayor Bottoms announced she contracted the virus - despite wearing face masks for months.

Studies have shown face masks increase the risk of contracting the coronavirus because people repeatedly touch their faces.

Failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams slammed Kemp as "incompetent", while the mayor of Savannah lashed out at Kemp, saying "He does not give a damn about us."

"Every man and woman for himself/herself," said Savannah Mayor Van Jonson, a Democrat. "Ignore the science and survive the best you can. In #Savannah, we will continue to keep the faith and follow the science. Masks will continue to be available!”

There were nearly 4,000 "confirmed cases" of coronavirus in Georgia and almost 2,800 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19.

But some residents on Twitter complained that their loved ones are being tested "multiple times" - with each positive test counted as a new case.
 

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Governor Brian Kemp ordered 1,000 members of the National Guard to deploy to Atlanta, citing the mayor's failure "to quell ongoing violence with armed individuals threatening citizens".

Atlanta has seen over 75 shootings in the past few weeks.

Kemp, who is Republican, declared a state of emergency in Atlanta on Monday after 8-year-old Secoreia Turner was fatally shot while riding in a car with her mother and a friend near the Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks was killed last month.

Mayor Bottoms was accused of ignoring the armed Black Lives Matter protesters guarding the burned out Wendy's where Brooks died.
 

In an emotional press conference on Monday, Mayor Bottoms blamed Black Lives Matter activists for the little girl's death.

"You cant blame this on a police officer. You can't say this about criminal justice reform," Bottoms said. "This is about some people carrying some weapons who shot up a car with an 8-year-old baby in the car for what?!?

"Enough is enough," Bottoms continued. "If you want people to take us seriously and you don't want us to lose this movement, we can't lose each other."

On ABC's Good Morning America, Mayor Bottoms was asked if she requested the National Guard to control the protests which turned violent.

"No. An irony of that is that I asked Governor Kemp to allow us to mandate masks in Atlanta and he said no," she said. "But he has called in the National Guard without asking if we needed the National Guard.

"So, I understand if he wants to protect state buildings. We have been coordinating with the Georgia State Patrol -- which we do on any number of occasions... But at no time was it mentioned that anyone felt that there was the need for the National Guard to come in.”

On Monday afternoon Bottoms tweeted that she and her husband had tested positive for COVID-19. She said she had no symptoms.

Gov. Kemp does not plan to mandate mask-wearing in the state of Georgia.

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Twitter.com/@CharlieGileNBC

Some things are more important than buying essentials, such as food with a $1,200 stimulus check.

On the first day after the coronavirus lockdown was lifted in Georgia, an estimated 300 people lined up outside a shoe store in Atlanta to be the first to purchase a pair of Air Jordans.

Shoppers formed 2 lines outside the store in southwest Atlanta to buy the new Air Jordan 5 "Fire Red" sneakers. Some wore face masks, according to 11Alive News.

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Teenagers and adults stood patiently in line outside Jimmy Jazz's shoe store at Greenbriar Mall, according to NBC producer Charlie Gile.

"Here's what it looked like as Jimmy Jazz's doors opened at Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta. Everyone I talked to was in line for a new Air Jordan 5 that sold out online," Gile tweeted on Saturday.

Atlantans took advantage of the warm weather to sunbathe in parks and at Lake Lanier's man-made beach north of Atlanta. Others gathered at Piedmont Park in midtown to watch the famous U.S. Air Force Thunder Birds and Navy's Blue Angels put on an air show overhead.

Few people in the crowd complied with the coronavirus social distancing guidelines.

Gov. Brian Kemp, who lifted the lockdown restrictions on Friday, urged the crowds to maintain a safe distance.

"Stay at least six feet from other people, do not gather in groups, stay out of crowded places, and avoid mass gatherings," a press statement from Kemp's office said.

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Governor Brian Kemp signed an Executive Order canceling his shelter-in-place order, effective at midnight tonight (April 30).

"Tonight at 11:59 p.m., the statewide shelter in place order for most Georgians will expire. However, moving forward, I am urging Georgians to continue to stay home whenever possible. I want to thank the people of our great state who heeded public health advice, afforded us time to bolster our healthcare infrastructure, and flattened the curve. We were successful in these efforts, but the fight is far from over."

Kemp urged businesses that decide to open to "operate with strict social distancing and sanitation rules to keep customers and employees safe through May 13, 2020."

Gov. Kemp also signed an order requiring the medically fragile and elderly to continue to shelter in place through June 12.

"Together, we will defeat this virus and emerge stronger. Thank you, and God Bless," he concluded.

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The line queued down the block outside one Atlanta barbershop on the first official day of Georgia's reopening.

Friday, April 24, was the first phase of Gov. Brian Kemp's plan to reopen Georgia. On Monday, Kemp announced that local establishments could reopen for business following a one month lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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Graphic: WSB-TV

Customers waited in line after 7 a.m. outside Peachtree Battle Barber Shop in Atlanta's upscale Buckhead neighborhood.

Matt Maddox was one of the customers waiting in line to get his hair cut amid the fear and uncertainty.

"I certainly don't want to spread it to anyone so I've got a mask, but I'm not really concerned," Maddox told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "If you're cutting hair or you're a waiter, you haven't been working, so it helps get the economy started again."

At Studio 151 in Dallas, Georgia, the first appointment was at 6:20 a.m., according to the salon's owner.

Stephen Richardson's salon in Dallas, Ga, started losing business the week of March 10, according to the AJC.com. By March 26, he was ordered to shut his doors because he wasn't an essential business.

"I went from 100% to zero," Richardson told the AJC. He said he had to comply with a 14-page list of safety guidelines issued by the state. He added some of his own to keep his customers safe.

"We have our very own concerns, but we need our clients," he said. His protocols include one client at a time and temperature checks at the door.

By noon Friday, Richardson and another stylist were seeing a steady stream of clients.

"People are pretty much getting in and out," Richardson said. "I give the clients credit. Every client that has shown up has had a mask."

Barber shops and hair salons were grateful to do brisk business after a month of no revenue. But Some businesses were so devastated by the coronavirus lockdown that they will never recover.

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Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is facing heavy criticism over his decision to reopen the state for business on Friday, April 24.

While many in the business community applauded the governor for his courage, others in the Black community expressed contempt toward Kemp for putting Black lives at risk.

Prominent Black business owners in Atlanta say they won't reopen their establishments until they get the green light from the CDC.

Rap producer and DJ Jermaine Dupri called Kemp's decision "reckless and unilateral".

And the city's mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, is also encouraging people to use "common sense" and continue to stay at home.

But rapper/entrepreneur 2 Chainz is appreciative of Gov. Kemp’s efforts to jumpstart the local economy.

The rapper and his business partner Mychel "Snoop" Dillard (pictured above) are reopening their Atlanta restaurants for sit-down service.

Both restaurants, Escobar and Tapas, are serving dine-in meals starting Monday, according to Snoop, who tells TMZ they're making public safety a top priority.

The co-owners are mindful of the fears expressed by many in the community, but they have a plan to keep folks safe from COVID-19.

In a recent interview, Snoop, who manages both restaurants, said the lack of business forced her to lay off 80% of her staff.

"I have seen a significant decrease in revenue by 80 percent and my income has been reduced to zero dollars," she told The Atlanta Voice magazine.

With dine-in service resumed, Snoop says they're planning to bring back 65% of restaurant staff -- 80 people -- and the hope is to have everyone back at work eventually.

According to TMZ, 2 Chainz and Snoop donated hundreds of meals to medical workers on the frontlines, and they plan to give more free meals to workers at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Piedmont Atlanta Hospital.

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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms angered residents who want the city reopened to stimulate the local economy.

The Mayor tweeted a text message from someone who called her a racial slur on Wednesday.

"With my daughter looking over my shoulder, I received this message on my phone."

The text message included the n-word and said, "just shut up and RE-OPEN ATLANTA."

The Mayor's supporters rushed to defend her. "I'm so sorry for this hatred and malevolence. But I'm grateful that your leadership is saving lives," one follower tweeted.

Bottoms defied Governor Brian Kemp who ordered some businesses in the state to reopen on Friday, April 24.

The governor's order will allow gyms, bowling alleys, hair salons and some other indoor facilities to resume operations by Friday if they comply with social distancing requirements.

Mayor Bottoms, who was caught off guard by Kemp's announcement, told MSNBC's "MTP Daily" on Tuesday that she is aware that her powers don't supersede Kemp's as governor.

"But I do have the power of my voice," the Democratic mayor said. "And 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."

Mayor Bottoms voiced her opposition to Gov. Kemp on numerous news programs including CNN, MSNBC, and radio shows.

During an interview with MSNBC's Chuck Todd, the Mayor criticized Kemp for reopening the state too soon.

Thanks to the Mayor's personal stylist, her hair was coiffed to perfection. But she had a message for less fortunate women who haven't seen the inside of a hair salon in over a month: "Stay home."

"We need to, as government leaders, step up and give people an incentive to stay home," Bottoms told Todd. "But there's nothing essential about going to a [hair salon] in the middle of a pandemic."

Kemp defended his decision to jumpstart the economy in Georgia and allow people to return to work.

"If people don't want to open the gym, they don't have to. But when you close somebody's business down and take their livelihoods ... I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt."
 

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Prominent Atlanta business owner Ryan Wilson slammed Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp for reopening the state on Friday, April 24.

The CEO and co-founder of Atlanta's thriving private membership club, The Gathering Spot, made a public PSA informing Gov. Kemp that the renown club will keep it's doors closed, despite Kemp's removal of the shelter-in-place order.

Like many other prominent business owners, mostly Democrats, Ryan expressed his "great concern" with the early opening of the state, saying regardless of what Kemp states, he will not put his staff or members in harm's way, while Georgia is still working to "flatten the Covid-19 curve."

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Wilson, pictured at right with entrepreneur Killer Mike, states, "This is a complete failure of leadership. I don't understand the decision. We're not opening despite the order. We could technically open on April 27, but we're not going to because it's not safe to do so. The worst thing that could happen is we open our space up and someone gets sick or dies as a result of coming into contact with someone here. We just simply are not at the point where the data suggests that it’s a responsible move to make."

Wilson is calling on other local businesses to join him, by remaining closed, as well as urging citizens to stay at home.

He is also asking patrons to continue to support their small local businesses the best way they can throughout this troubling time. In the past 4-weeks of Georgia's closure, The Gathering Spot has donated over $16,000 in grants for small local businesses. They will continue to raise funding with their "We All We Got" fund, to continue to provide resources to local businesses in need.
 

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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (right) defied Governor Brian Kemp by urging residents to stay home when the state is reopened on Friday, April 24.

The Republican Governor announced on Monday that the state would reopen for business after a month on lockdown to prevent the spread of the flu-like coronavirus.

The governor's order will allow gyms, bowling alleys, hair salons and some other indoor facilities to resume operations by Friday if they comply with social distancing requirements.

Mayor Bottoms, who was caught off guard by Kemp's announcement, told MSNBC's "MTP Daily" on Tuesday that she is aware that her powers don't supersede Kemp's as governor.

"But I do have the power of my voice," the Democratic mayor said. "And 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."

"Please stay home," Mayor Bottoms said. Her hair was laid and her makeup was flawless as she urged women to neglect their own hair and nails for the health and safety of others.

"Simply because we have hospital beds available, doesn't mean that we should work to fill them up," she said.

Failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said Kemp's decision to reopen the state didn't make sense in an interview with MSNBC's Morning Joe.

"These jobs that are reopening, these businesses that are reopening, are going to force frontline workers back to work without having been tested, without having access to a healthcare system to help them if they are in need," Abrams said.

Democratic governors and mayors have been resistant to reopen their states. But some caved to pressure after angry residents took to the streets to protest the forced home detainment.

Protesters blocked traffic near state capitol buildings in Michigan, Tennessee and South Carolina.

Texas has already reopened, and Georgia plans to reopen on Friday - with or without Mayor Bottoms' blessings.

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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms reacted to the news that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp planned to reopen some businesses by this Friday.

The governor's order will allow gyms, bowling alleys, hair salons and some other indoor facilities to resume operations by Friday if they comply with social distancing requirements.

Mayor Bottoms was caught off guard by Kemp's announcement on Monday. She created an advisory council to reopen the city next month (May). But in a statement to WSB-TV, Bottoms expressed doubt that some businesses can reopen by Friday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I didn't know it was coming and obviously the governor is the governor and he certainly has the prerogative to make orders that he deems appropriate. He did not consult with me."

The mayor's hair was laid and her face was beat when she spoke to WSB-TV anchor Jovita Moore on Monday. But other women in Georgia haven't been to a hair salon in over a month.

"You get your hair done, I get my hair done. I don’t know how you socially distance when someone is doing your hair or doing your nails, giving you a massage," Bottoms said. "These things are concerning to me. I do hope that I'm wrong and the governor is right. Because if he's wrong, more people can die."

Many Democratic governors and mayors are resistant to reopening their states and cities even though the death toll from the virus is far below the predicted estimates.
 

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Georgia Governor Brian Kemp refuses to order a statewide lockdown, while Democratic-controlled states go to extreme measures to control the spread of the flu-like Covid-19 virus.

According to the AJC.com, Kemp ordered a series of measures to control the spread of the virus. But he stopped short of infringing on the rights and civil liberties of millions of people who will not get sick.

On Monday, Kemp announced he is instituting a ban on public gatherings of more than 10 people and he ordered a shelter in place for "medically fragile" people for two weeks.

Ordering the medically fragile to stay indoors makes more sense than restricting the movements of healthy people, keeping restaurants closed, and destroying the state's economy.

The news comes as President Donald Trump indicated he will lift restrictions and allow businesses to reopen in many states by next Monday.

The AJC reports Kemp faced "increasing pressure" to impose stiffer restrictions on the residents of his state.

He said the ban on public gatherings of more than 10 people ensures the spacing of "at least six feet between people at all times" so that businesses such as grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, and home improvement stores can remain open.

"We are all part of the solution. If your friends, neighbors or local organizations are not complying, call them out. Or report them to us," Kemp said.

"The fight is far from over, but we are in this fight together," Kemp continued. "Look out for your fellow Georgians and pray for their continued safety, as well as the safety of our first responders, healthcare workers, the elderly and the medically fragile."

The novel coronavirus has infected over 100,000 people in the United States, although only 46,000 cases are confirmed. That puts the fatality rate far under 1% and closer to the influenza fatality rate of 0.1%.

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President Trump is currently touring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. He urged Americans to remain calm even as the news media overhypes the virus outbreak in the U.S.

Trump downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak that killed 11 people -- all middle aged or elderly -- on the West Coast.

"We have 240 cases -- most of those people are going to be fine," Trump told reporters at the CDC. "We've had 11 deaths and they've been largely old people who are susceptible to what's happening."

Trump, who wore his red campaign cap, compared the Coronavirus casualties to the common flu, noting that over 30,000 people have died from the flu this season -- but the media won't report that.

"The common flu kills people and old people... the interesting thing here -- it's very interesting... the young seem to be doing unbelievably well, actually better than they do with the flu."

Trump said he is not big on handshaking, but he said he shakes hands because he's a politician. "I feel very secure," he said.

The White House canceled Trump's planned visit to the CDC earlier today due to a report that a CDC employee tested positive for the virus. But Trump explained that the employe tested negative, so the trip was back on.

He said the Secret Service worked out the logistics so he could visit the CDC to thank scientists for their hard work on his way to Florida.

In response to a question about canceling his campaign rallies, Trump said he's not planning to cancel his rallies. "It doesn't bother me at all and it doesn't bother them," he said, referring to his supporters who pack arenas to attend his rallies.

Governor Brian Kemp, who accompanied Trump on his tour of the CDC, urged people to wash their hands and stay home if they feel sick.

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Georgia Governor Brian Kemp held a late night press conference on Monday to announce confirmation of the first Coronavirus in Atlanta.

Two people who live in the same household tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. The couple are the first in Georgia to test positive for the virus.

Kemp and state officials announced the news at a hastily arranged press conference, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The couple, who live in Fulton County, showed minor symptoms of the illness shortly after one of the people returned to Georgia from a business trip to Milan, Italy.

"I want to reassure you that they're at home, in home isolation with other household members, with minimal symptoms so they're not hospitalized," said Dr. Kathleen Toomey, head of the state's public health department.

Dr. Toomey said the person who traveled to Italy detected the symptoms immediately and contacted his doctor upon returning to Atlanta. He was advised to stay home and wash his hands frequently.

The news comes as Washington state reported 6 Coronavirus deaths -- all in the same nursing facility in Kirkland. The 6 elderly women were in their 70s and 80s.

President Donald Trump is set to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta on Friday. He has urged calm and said the risk to the American public remains low.

People who are at most risk are the elderly and those with weak immune systems. Most people who are 50 or younger who were infected with the Coronavirus have fully recovered.

Apple founder Steve Wozniak and his wife Janet say they may have been infected with the Covid-19 virus during a trip to China in January.

Wozniak tweeted on Monday that he and his wife had sore throats and coughs when they returned to the U.S. on Jan. 4.

Although they have fully recovered, Wozniak contacted the CDC but he received a form letter advising them to wash their hands.

The Coronavirus is not as deadly as the common flu virus which has killed 10,000 people this flu season. The CDC is expecting 40,000 deaths from the flu virus by the end of the flu season.