Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is suing Keisha Bottoms, the Democratic mayor of Atlanta, over the city's continued enforcement of a mask mandate that was banned Wednesday by Kemp's executive order, NBC News reported.
Kemp's executive order nullified mask requirements in Atlanta and 14 other localities. Kemp encourages people to wear masks in public, but opposes any measure by local authorities that is more restrictive than what the state has imposed.
"This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times," Kemp wrote on Twitter on Thursday. "These men and women are doing their very best to put food on the table for their families while local elected officials shutter businesses and undermine economic growth.
"Just like sending in the [Georgia National Guard] to protect those living in our capital city from crime and violence, I refuse to sit back and watch as disastrous policies threaten the lives and livelihoods of our citizens," Kemp continued. "We will fight to stop these reckless actions and put people over pandemic politics."
This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to surv… https://t.co/j0XX5zSapf— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@Governor Brian P. Kemp)1594936504.0
After Kemp issued the order, Bottoms made it clear that she did not intend for the city of Atlanta to comply. Even after the lawsuit, Bottoms remained steadfast on the issue. From NBC News:
Kemp issued his executive order, which banned more than a dozen local governments from mandating that masks be worn in public, on Wednesday. A spokesman for Atlanta's mayor had said that the mayor's order remained in effect, that the city would be guided by data and science, and that "masks save lives."
Bottoms was defiant after Kemp's lawsuit Thursday, noting that 3,014 Georgians have died and that she and her family are among those who have tested positive.
"A better use of taxpayer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing," she said. "If being sued by the State is what it takes to save lives in Atlanta, then we will see them in court."
Georgia, like a number of other states, has recorded record numbers of new COVID-19 cases in recent days, although none of these places has seen sort of fatality rate that was seen in New York City during the peak of the epidemic in the United States.
In response, an increasing number of state and local leaders, Republican and Democrat, are mandating masks in public in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.