Thurmond has said he’s praying the governor’s actions are the right ones — but preparing as if they’re not.
He said the county began stockpiling masks and other supplies weeks before Kemp issued his initial state of emergency declaration in March. Joseph Cox, leader of the DeKalb Emergency Management Agency, made the suggestion when outbreaks of the coronavirus started surfacing on the West Coast, Thurmond said.
DeKalb County has seen the second-highest total of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state. Zip code-level data provided by the local health department suggests the county reflects larger nationwide trends, with areas with higher levels of poverty and larger black populations feeling the brunt of the virus.
“I ride through communities in DeKalb County where less than 25% of the people are wearing masks,” Thurmond said. “They're not socially distancing and they're not wearing masks. It's a ticking time bomb.”
Thurmond, a former state legislator and labor commissioner, has publicly grappled with the economic fallout of the pandemic. But he has also criticized the governor’s approach.
Thurmond last week issued an order urging reopening businesses like hair and nail salons to take preventative measures beyond those recommended by Kemp.
He said Thursday that lifting the shelter-in-place order “makes the challenge at the local level exponentially more difficult than what it was."
"I sure do miss those Republicans who really loved local control," said Thurmond, a Democrat. "I really miss that Republican Party."