The organizations, several of which have strong ties to 2018 gubernatorial contender Stacey Abrams, highlighted “mixed messages” over the disease, which tests indicate has sickened at least 22 in Georgia.
Shortly after Ralston announced steps to limit crowds at the Statehouse, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, the president of the state Senate, said the chamber would “be open for the people’s business.” And Kemp, who has repeatedly called for vigilance, has also said broadly that it’s too early to restrict public gatherings.
“Georgia legislators should not hide behind an internet stream and dissuade citizens from participating in the legislative process, as Speaker Ralston has done, send mixed messages to the public, as Lt. Governor Duncan has done, or say nothing at all, as the governor has done,” read the statement.
The spread of the illness has cast a pall on Georgia politics and triggered changes in behavior under the Gold Dome and on the campaign trail.
Concern about a possible exposure has also led U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a Senate candidate, to "self-quarantine" himself after he interacted with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.
“Statehouse leaders should wait until public health concerns over COVID-19 subside before holding these quintessential votes,” the groups said. “Governor Kemp, along with House and Senate leadership, should do the right thing and close the Capitol until such time that citizens are able and encouraged to participate.”
Kemp, for his part, recommended that Georgians remain calm and follow federal health guidelines.
“Ignore their divisive tactics,” he said of the groups. “We’re in this fight together.”