Campaign check: Ossoff says Perdue, Loeffler ignore COVID-19 protocols

Senator David Perdue holds a rally at Peachtree DeKalb Airport on  Nov 2, 2020.  (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Senator David Perdue holds a rally at Peachtree DeKalb Airport on Nov 2, 2020. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

The statement:

“Reverend Warnock and I are holding outdoor events with urged social distancing and strong mask requirements. And as a matter of public health, Senators Perdue and Loeffler need to follow suit — they need to lead by example; they need to comply with CDC public health guidelines.” -Jon Ossoff told CNN, Nov. 23

What we found:

U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler frequently host campaign events in restaurants and other indoor meeting spaces where social distancing is not possible. And while the senators typically wear masks, many of the people attending their events do not.

On Nov. 11, for example, hundreds of supporters, many not wearing masks, crowded into the cramped Cobb County GOP headquarters outside Marietta to see Loeffler campaign with fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. That same week, Perdue and Loeffler held a rally in a Cumming restaurant where most in the crowd of more than 300 did not wear masks, Yahoo News reported.

AJC Senate Watch: Checking candidates’ claims, answering readers’ questions
AJC Senate Watch: Checking candidates’ claims, answering readers’ questions

Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia is grappling with a surge in COVID-19 cases. On Sunday, the seven-day rolling average of confirmed cases topped 4,600 per day, and Georgia’s confirmed death toll from COVID-19 topped 9,200, according to state Department of Public Health data.

The CDC recommends people wear masks and stay at least six feet apart at events.

Loeffler and Perdue’s campaigns did not respond to a request for comments.

But Perdue told Fox News in June that he supports wearing masks.


Sen. David Perdue poses for photographs at an event at the Republican Party Headquarters in Marietta on Oct.10, 2020. (STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC )
Sen. David Perdue poses for photographs at an event at the Republican Party Headquarters in Marietta on Oct.10, 2020. (STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC )

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

“We wear them here in the Senate,” he said. “We wash our hands. We [use] masks. And if we follow that, the infection rate can be managed, I believe.”

Loeffler told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in October that she wants protect people’s health and “freedoms.”

“I don’t think we can mandate masks,” she said. “I encourage people to follow the guidelines. But we have to protect the freedoms that we have in this country as well.”

Later in October, two of Loeffler’s staffers tested positive for COVID-19. The following month, Loeffler self-isolated after testing positive for the disease. She later tested negative and returned to the campaign trail.

Spokesmen for Ossoff and fellow Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock said their campaigns are holding events outside, enforcing social distancing at them and requiring attendees to wear masks at all times. In July, Ossoff said he had gone into self-quarantine after his wife Alisha Kramer, an Emory University physician, contracted the coronavirus.

Georgia Senate Democrat candidate Jon Ossoff speaks with Kennesaw State University student leaders following a rally in the parking lot of Grace Community Christian Church in Kennesaw on Dec. 3, 2020.  (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
Georgia Senate Democrat candidate Jon Ossoff speaks with Kennesaw State University student leaders following a rally in the parking lot of Grace Community Christian Church in Kennesaw on Dec. 3, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

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