As it is now July, and the novel coronavirus has been found within our borders for at least seven months, it seems odd that some political leaders would just now be issuing personal protection gear mandates and executive orders on how to conduct yourselves in public. However, that is precisely what the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, has just done.
On Wednesday, the Democratic leader and potential running mate of presidential nominee Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring masks by nearly everyone within her jurisdiction.
According to Fox 5 in Atlanta, “The order requires anyone within city limits and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, to wear a mask or a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth, except those with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a face mask or are under the age of 10.”
The mayor told the press, “We will continue to take active measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 infections in Atlanta. Public health experts overwhelmingly agree that wearing a face-covering helps slow the spread of this sometimes deadly virus.”
The question immediately asked by everyone was, why now? Why wait seven months after the infection has infiltrated our country to make such a mandate? After all, most of the nation is in full recovery mode, slowly opening back up their economies and businesses to the public.
Well, the answer to that is quite simple and a rather selfish one if you ask me.
You see, Mayor Bottoms was recently diagnosed with COVID-19, as was her husband. And while the pair are, as of now at least, asymptomatic, the reality of the fast-spreading disease has obviously just now hit her, forcing her to be on the defense. It’s a shame that she couldn’t realize the potential threat long before now.
Who knows, it could have saved some lives. Then again, it might not have.
But the not so good look of utter self-preservation and pettiness isn’t the only one Mayor Bottoms has to worry about right now.
In fact, she potentially has a much bigger problem to worry about and one that involves a head to head war with the governor.
If you’ve paid any attention to state governors and executive orders due to COVID-19, you will likely remember that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued one that prohibits local governments, including city mayors, from implementing their own health policies and orders.
Many believe this was a way to keep his local governments in check, making sure that they, unlike some in other states, aren’t able to abuse their power during this one of a kind crisis. The governor has also stated that he trusts his citizens to make wise and safe public and health practices as productive adults.
However, during this second wave of infections, city officials in larger cities such as Savannah and now Atlanta are giving this idea a second thought, as their number of confirmed cases has now passed 100,000.
Last week, Savannah became the first to issue a similar mandate as Atlanta. And the jurisdictions of East Point and Athens-Clarke County soon followed.
But the decisions pose a problem for the state, placing executive branches at the state level directly opposite those of the municipal level. Furthermore, it puts the people of cities like Atlanta and Savannah in a tough position.
Which order will Atlanta’s residents follow?
If they choose not to wear a mask, according to Lance Bottoms’ orders, they could be given consequences, even being fined or jailed. But will the governor come to their defense when they are placed in that position? And can his orders override that of Bottoms?
However, what does that mean for the state as a whole and others who seemingly defy President Trump’s orders? Logic would say that if the governor has precedence over mayors, then so does the president have power over governors.
It would also say that Trump could come in whenever he chooses and take matters into his own hands, which won’t sit well with devoutly blue states, even if they do claim to want bigger government.
In any case, Georgia finds herself in trying times, to say the least.