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Political standoff emerges over state, city COVID rules

Bottoms says city order "enforceable," Kemp says it isn't.

ATLANTA — Governor Brian Kemp plans to brief the public on COVID-19 Friday after skipping an opportunity to do it Thursday at a health care event in Marietta. The event came one day after Kemp issued an order that says it overturns orders in cities like Atlanta and Athens requiring masks and other new restrictions.  

Gov. Kemp seemed to take direct aim at Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms with a statewide order issued Wednesday night that the governor said, overturns Atlanta’s order.

Kemp wore a mask during much of a health care event he attended Thursday – while putting him in the middle of an uncomfortable political power struggle with Bottoms and other Georgia mayors. 

It has emerged as the rate of COVID 19 cases has increased across the state. Kemp ignored questions about it as he and his security team left a health care event at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital.

"The fact that he would disallow any city trying to protect its citizens is not only irresponsible and reckless, but dangerous," said Armando Celentano – a co-owner of a restaurant in East Atlanta Village called Argosy.  

Most of the restaurant's 50 employees are furloughed as Argosy opened for takeout and for a few weeks, then opened a patio for table service -- but abruptly closed it again last weekend.  

Bottoms said Thursday that the politics of the pandemic isn’t helping. 

"What’s getting lost is the science and the reality of where we are with COVID-19. There is so much death and sickness around us that many people become desensitized to that unfortunately," said Bottoms, who said her husband Derek Bottoms lost 20 pounds in one week while battling the illness.

Meanwhile, Kemp announced he was filing a lawsuit against the City of Atlanta over its mandate requiring masks in public spaces. 

He is expected to give an update about the pandemic in a news conference Friday at 8 a.m.

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