9 people test positive for coronavirus at Georgia school where viral photos showed packed hallways
Savannah mayor hits Kemp for overriding local mask mandates: He 'does not give a damn about us'
The mayor of Savannah, Ga., lashed out at Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) after the governor issued an order overriding mandates in local municipalities that required residents to wear masks in public amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It is officially official. Governor Kemp does not give a damn about us. Every man and woman for himself/herself. Ignore the science and survive the best you can," Savannah Mayor Van Johnson (D) tweeted Wednesday evening.
"In #Savannah, we will continue to keep the faith and follow the science. Masks will continue to be available!" he added.
Johnson's city was one of the first in Georgia to require residents to wear masks in public in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus as the state had begun to see an uptick in cases after easing restrictions.
His comments on Wednesday came shortly after Kemp issued an executive order that made void local mandates requiring people to wear face coverings in public places. Instead, the order "strongly" encourages all residents and visitors to wear face coverings in public.
The order states that "any state, county, or municipal law, order, ordinance, rule or regulation that requires persons to wear face coverings, masks, face shields, or any other Personal Protective Equipment while in places of public accommodation or on public property are suspended to the extent that they are more restrictive than this executive order."
In a follow-up statement on Twitter late Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Kemp, Candice Broce, also stressed that while the governor "continues to strongly encourage Georgians to wear masks in public," local mask mandates "are unenforceable."
"Previous executive orders - and now this order - state no local action can be more or less restrictive than ours," she stated.
According to The Associated Press, the order will affect mask mandates in at least 15 local governments in the state.
Georgia has seen 127,000 confirmed cases of the disease in recent months and more than 3,000 related deaths, according to state health data.