The Jolt: The CDC to be eliminated as a first recipient of local coronavirus data

On Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp extended an emergency order allowing the continued deployment of up to 1,000 National Guard troops to protect state buildings in Atlanta -- ensuring continued tensions with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over public safety and public health.

But the White House is suggesting yet another role for the National Guard. From the Washington Post: 

The Trump administration is poised to ask governors to consider sending in the National Guard to hospitals to help improve data collection about novel coronavirus patients, supplies and capacity, according to draft letters, internal emails and officials familiar with the plans…

[E]ven the possibility of National Guard involvement has infuriated hospital industry leaders, who say any data collection problems lie primarily with the Department of Health and Human Services and repeatedly changing federal instructions.

At issue is the timely collection and collation of coronavirus statistics, essential to identifying current and future hot spots. Which makes this paragraph deep in the Post article even more disturbing:

HHS officials on Monday finalized a new data reporting protocol for hospitals, which will eliminate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a data recipient, leaving health-care institutions to report information about covid-19 to a federal contractor or to their state, which would coordinate the federal reporting. Covid-19 is the disease caused by the virus.

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On Friday, Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis -- like several Georgia mayors before him -- signed an executive order requiring the use of face masks and close public settings.

In a press release that arrived this morning, Davis criticized Gov. Brian Kemp’s policy of promoting the use of face coverings, but not requiring them. "The governor’s encouragement is not sufficient to save lives and ensure that the current surge in COVID cases and deaths does not overload our healthcare systems,” the Augusta mayor said.

But today's Augusta Chronicle explains the difficulty of enforcement:

Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton said deputies won't be ticketing violators of Mayor Hardie Davis' executive order, which went into effect Friday night and will continue until Aug. 8…

He said officers will respond to a call from a business or private property owner about people not wearing masks and make sure those people leave the property if the owner desires it. He said the department doesn't plan to respond to random calls about people not wearing masks on public streets.

He said the sheriff's office doesn't have the resources to make sure people are complying with the mayor's order.

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For the next several weeks, the most sensitive topic in Georgia politics will be how and when to open the state's public school classrooms. State officials have endorsed President Donald Trump's emphasis on Sooner rather than later. From our AJC colleague Ty Tagami:

New guidance issued Monday for Georgia's K-12 schools eliminates the coronavirus infection rate in a community as the key consideration when deciding whether or not to bring kids into classrooms.

Now, a revised flow chart that guides superintendents and school boards is premised on schools being open. Shifting the focus from when to open, it advises school leaders instead on when to close.

The initial 10-page guidance document, released June 1 by the Georgia Department of Education, focused on how to react to the local danger level, or "community spread," when making their decisions. The revised document, now 12 pages, focuses more on how to respond to coronavirus cases within school buildings.

The Brunswick News caught up with state School Superintendent Richard Woods, who spoke Monday to the Golden Isles Republican Women's Club:

"We've got to be thinking about how do we overcome and master this and not let this virus master us," [Woods] said. "It does work best when our kids are in school. I'll be honest, that's where they need to be so that we can teach."

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The campaign of Democratic presidential presumptive Joe Biden has launched the first general election TV ads in the state of Texas. The same ad buy, reported by CNN, reserved airtime for customized spots in Arizona, Florida and North Carolina. Not on the list: Georgia.

It’s a reminder that for all the talk about battleground Georgia, and the pleas from Stacey Abrams and other leading Democrats for investment, the Biden campaign still hasn’t made the state a top-tier target.

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Several GOP members of Georgia's congressional delegation tell us that they plan to attend the Republican National Convention next month, although they haven't yet specified if that means trips to Charlotte, Jacksonville or both.

The lawmakers who said they plan to attend in person include U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson and U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter. U.S. Rep. Tom Graves plans to participate virtually, at the least. Seven other GOP lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. David Perdue and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, didn't respond to our inquiry. (Click here to see a full list of RNC delegates from Georgia.)

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports a host of high-level Republicans are planning to skip the party's convention, including U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Pat Roberts of Kansas, along with U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Francis Rooney of Florida. Another famed Floridian, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, has not yet decided -- even though the convention is in his home state.

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We have been harping more than a bit on the outsized role that absentee ballots will likely play In Georgia and the rest of the country on Nov. 3. The following is a Twitter message sent out by GOP pollster Glen Bolger on Monday:

"Yikes -- just finished a statewide survey in a swing state. The quarter of the voters who plan to vote by mail or absentee break 15% Trump/75% Biden on the Pres. ballot. Republicans are skeptical about voting by mail, and that's a problem up and down ballot."

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The New York Times this morning has a look at conspiracy-minded Q Anon candidates who are turning up in Republican contests. Yes, Marjorie Taylor Greene, the leading candidate in a GOP runoff for the 14th District congressional seat, receives a mention.

But so does this Republican candidate running against U.S. Rep John Lewis, D-Atlanta:

A month earlier, the Republican National Committee gave $2,200 to Angela Stanton-King, a House candidate in Georgia who has repeatedly posted QAnon content and obscure hashtags, such as "#trusttheplan." The Georgia Republican Party gave an additional $2,800 to Ms. Stanton-King, who was pardoned this year by Mr. Trump for her role in a car-theft ring. She is expected to be roundly defeated in her heavily Democratic district.

Ms. Stanton-King has since denied believing in any QAnon conspiracies. Yet in recent days she was again tweeting about "global elite pedophiles," as well as a new conspiracy theory involving a purported child-trafficking ring run by an online furniture retailer.

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Our AJC colleague Johnny Edwards posted the following on his Facebook feed last night

As a public service, Dr. Amber Schmidtke, a microbiology professor at Mercer University School of Medicine, has been analyzing Georgia's coronavirus data on a near-daily basis and explaining the numbers in layman's terms in posts on her Facebook page, which has more than 10,000 followers. I quoted her in a story last month and she's recently been interviewed by other media outlets.

Now people across the state who have shared her daily reports are having their posts ripped down by Facebook, which says they violate the company's community standards on spam. Some users are reporting error messages when they try to DM Dr. Schmidtke's material, saying "it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive."

At best, an algorithm glitch. At worst, a coordinated attack on science. 

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Four activists plan to file a federal lawsuit today challenging the way that Georgia selects members of the state Public Service Commission, the Georgia NAACP announced.

The plaintiffs said the current at-large process makes it difficult for Black candidates to be elected to the utlity commission. Although the state is divided into five PSC commission districts In which candidates for that seat must reside, elections are statewide.

“Since its inception, the Georgia PSC has almost exclusively been composed of white men,” the NAACP said in its media advisory. “In the commission’s 141-year history, only one of its sixty-four commissioners has been Black. His name was David Burgess and he was initially appointed by Governor Roy Barnes in 1999. He was subsequently defeated in a statewide election in 2006 after serving only one full term.”

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In endorsement news: 

-- The Tea Party Express has endorsed state Rep. Matt Gurtler in the GOP runoff for Georgia's Ninth Congressional District.

-- The Rev. Raphael Warnock, running in November's U.S. Senate special election, now has the backing of 25 Democratic U.S. senators.