Black mayors in some of the nation’s largest cities have called on governors to repeal any orders prohibiting them from enacting strategies that reduce the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Mayors Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C., and Sylvester Turner of Houston are among those who signed on to the resolution from the African American Mayors Association.
Mayor McKinley Price, DDS of Newport News, Va., and president of the Association, says mayors should be able to protect its citizens without interference.
“COVID-19 is surging across the country — threatening all Americans, and particularly people of color,” Price said. Face masks — along with other social distancing practices — are proven ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Yet many governors are preventing mayors from enforcing these strategies.”
“It shouldn’t be this way. Health experts are clear that wearing masks slows down the spread of the virus. We all need to take this powerful step to protect our communities.”
McKinley said as Black mayors they have a heightened awareness on the need to mitigate COVID-19 transmission especially among communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted.
“In passing this resolution, Black mayors — from cities of all sizes — are sending a clear message to governors: mayors must have the ability to implement public health strategies that keep their constituents safe.”
The resolution comes on the heels of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp filing a lawsuit against Bottoms and the Atlanta City Council two weeks ago for requiring face masks in the state’s largest city after a surge of new COVID-19 cases.
According to NPR, the suit asserts that Kemp alone “leads the State of Georgia in its fight against the worldwide novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic” and adds he has the power “to suspend municipal orders that are contradictory to any state law or to his executive orders.”
“As the Mayor of the City of Atlanta, Mayor Bottoms does not have the legal authority to modify, change or ignore Governor Kemp’s executive orders.”
The lawsuit against Bottoms came after Kemp released an order forbidding local jurisdictions to require face masks for residents in public places.
Kemp took to Twitter to saying the lawsuit is on behalf of “the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times.”
Bottoms responded to Kemp via Twitter stating “3104 Georgians have died and I and my family are amongst the 106k who have tested positive for COVID-19.”
“Meanwhile, I have been sued by @GovKemp for a mask mandate. A better use of tax payer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing.”
On Monday, the Associated Press reported that Kemp had withdrawn a request for an emergency hearing in the lawsuit against Bottoms. A spokesman for Kemp said the Republican wanted “to continue productive, good faith negotiations” with the mayor and the City Council.
In the District, Bowser issued a mandatory face mask order last week. She also extended the state of emergency and public health emergency for the District through Oct. 9.