State Watch

Stacey Abrams: Kemp not doing enough to protect low-income workers in Georgia

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Former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams on Thursday slammed Gov. Brian Kemp (R) for his decisions to allow some businesses to reopen amid the coronavirus outbreak, saying that the decision would endanger low-wage workers.

“The more insidious part of what he’s doing is that he claims this is to support small-business owners,” Abrams said on “The Axe Files,” a podcast hosted by CNN political commentator David Axelrod. “And that may be true, but the front-line workers tend to be low-wage workers who, right now, because they are furloughed or cannot go to work, can collect unemployment and protect themselves.”

Abrams, who narrowly lost to Kemp in the state’s 2018 gubernatorial race, said that Kemp’s move could force many workers to return to their jobs and risk exposing themselves to the virus.

“Instead of fixing an unemployment system that is not processing people fast enough, his response is to send those people back to the front lines without the protective equipment that they need,” she added. “Without any assurances that the owners that they will work or will actually do what they’re supposed to.”

Kemp made the decision earlier this week to begin gradually opening some nonessential business, including gyms and hair and nail salons, which will be allowed to reopen by Friday. He’s said that restaurants and theaters will be allowed to reopen on April 27.

Businesses will be required to stagger shifts, keep workspaces six feet apart and screen workers for respiratory illnesses and fevers, Kemp said.

The move was met with immediate bipartisan pushback, as many expressed fears about the openings leading to a second wave of infections. 

President Trump on Wednesday said at a White House briefing that he disagrees “strongly” with Kemp’s decision, though he said that he wanted Kemp to “do what he thinks is right.”

“This is a terrible decision that does not speak well of the governor or of his concern for human life,” said Abrams, who is considered a potential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. 

Georgia’s health department has reported more than 21,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and roughly 850 deaths caused by it. 

The state’s shelter-in-place order is set to run until April 30, with at-risk populations, such as people with underlying health conditions, being encouraged to remain home until May 13. In addition to Georgia, some states have begun to reopen parks and beaches. 

Health officials insist that the U.S. must reach a higher testing capacity and have a comprehensive contact-tracing program in place in order to safely reopen. 

Tags Coronavirus David Axelrod Donald Trump Georgia Joe Biden low wage workers reopening economy stay at home

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