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News outlet suggests Georgia Gov. repealing mask ban will lead to KKK activity

The station's Twitter account has been suspended

(Tim Boyle/Newsmakers)

A Georgia news outlet found itself on the receiving end of some bad press on Wednesday, after suggesting Gov. Brian Kemp's (R) move to allow masks in public amid the coronavirus pandemic might make it "okay for Klan members to wear hoods to prevent spreading the virus."

What are the details?

WGXA-TV, based in Macon, asked its social media followers to "sound off" on the matter via Twitter and Facebook, writing, "Gov. Kemp signed an Executive Order waiving a 1951 law that banned wearing KKK hoods amid the spread of COVID-19. Is it okay for Klan members to wear hoods to prevent spreading the virus?"

Gov. Kemp responded, "I signed an order to allow Georgians to wear masks in public to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 — in accordance with CDC guidance — without fear of prosecution. This post is a classless, disgusting ploy for social media engagement." He added, "WXGAnews refused to delete this post."

The posts by the station sparked outrage on both social media platforms, leading WGXA to eventually delete the Twitter post and reportedly edit its Facebook post. The station's Twitter account was also suspended.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that the governor was urged to temporarily "suspend a little-known state law adopted nearly 70 years ago to combat the Ku Klux Klan to clear the way for more Georgians to wear protective masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus."

Ahead of making changes to the law, a Kemp spokeswoman told the outlet, "According to the CDC, wearing a mask in public may mitigate the spread of coronavirus. We are reviewing state law to ensure there are no unnecessary obstacles to following this guideline."

Gov. Kemp's order legalizes "wearing 'a mask, hood, or device by which any portion of the face is so hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer' if that person is wearing such device for the purpose of complying with the guidance of any healthcare agency or to prevent the spread of COVID-19."

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