Georgia reported 3,413 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 148,988. The state set a daily record for confirmed cases on Saturday with 4,689. It has posted weekly growth in coronavirus cases for seven straight weeks and in nine out of the past 10 weeks, after bottoming out in late May.
The legal case is being closely monitored by government officials and legal experts since it could establish a legal precedent for local control. The municipal association’s filing asserted the governor is violating his authority by seeking to block cities from imposing restrictions such as mask requirements.
The African American Mayors Association — which includes Bottoms and hundreds of other Black mayors nationwide — also announced Tuesday that it is calling on governors to repeal orders or rules that bar local governments from enforcing mask requirements.
Kemp, who has encouraged the use of masks but opposes a legal requirement, had sidestepped a potential courtroom confrontation after Savannah and about a dozen other cities adopted mandates for face coverings. But he singled out Atlanta in a lawsuit last week amid a growing feud with Bottoms, a potential vice presidential nominee.
He targeted Bottoms after the city went a step beyond other local governments by announcing a return to “phase one” pandemic guidelines that urge restaurants to stop in-person dining and encourage residents to stay home for all but essential reasons. And he signed a new order that explicitly outlaws mask mandates.
Saying Bottoms has sown confusion among Georgians, Kemp’s lawsuit urges a judge to suspend the mayor’s executive orders and prevent her from “issuing press releases, or making statements to the press, that she has the authority to impose more or less restrictive measures” than him.
Bottoms is not backing down. The Democrat has accused the Republican governor of playing politics amid the outbreak and mocked his attempt to restrict her statements to the public and the media.
“Far more have sacrificed too much for me to be silent,” Bottoms tweeted Sunday.
Tuesday on Fox News, Kemp countered by accusing Bottoms of playing “pandemic politics.”
“When we have local mayors that start going either above or beyond the executive orders that I have in place,” Kemp said, “and try to pull back on our economy and start shutting our economy and shutting our businesses down, with really a knee-jerk reaction, I can’t allow that.”
Staff writer J. Scott Trubey contributed to this article.