Peach State Politics (Sep. 10, 2021)

Kemp threatens to challenge new WH COVID guidelines, Grady pauses elective surgeries, Trump to rally in Perry, This Week in Washington, and more

Welcome back to Peach State Politics! I hope all of you had wonderful and relaxing Labor Day Weekend. With summer now in the rearview mirror, it’s time to gear up for what will be quite a busy fall. And I’m here to walk you through all of it!

This week, Gov. Brian Kemp threatened to fight President Joe Biden’s new COVID-19 restrictions in court. We will take a look at some of the guidelines and why the governor opposes them. Plus, Georgia’s largest hospital is taking a huge step to make room for the influx of COVID-19 patients, and former President Donald Trump will be holding a rally in Georgia later this month. And as always, we’ve got the latest from our nation’s capital.

Also, we’ll take a look at a list of memorial services and ceremonies taking place in our area on Saturday to mark the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.


Kemp threatens to fight new Biden COVID guidelines

On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced a new measures aimed at combating the surge of COVID-19 cases. The new guidelines were met with fierce opposition from Republican governors, including Gov. Brian Kemp.

The Republican tweeted on Thursday that he will pursue every legal option available to stop what he calls a “blatantly unlawful overreach” by the Biden administration. Though his office has not provided any details or specifics on which options he may pursue.

President Biden’s new guidelines are his most aggressive to date. Among other things, they will require private businesses with more than 100 workers to require their employees be fully vaccinated or submit to regular COVID-19 testing. He is also requiring all federal employees be fully vaccinated with no exceptions, including negative tests.

Kemp and other Republican governors have been opposed to mask and vaccine mandates, arguing that people should be able to make these decisions without government intervention. They also believe that these mandates will impact economic recovery, as businesses could be forced to turn away customers who don’t abide by these guidelines.


Major GA hospital pauses elective surgeries as ICUs near capacity

Staying on the topic of COVID-19, one of Georgia’s largest hospitals announced this week that they will be halting all non-essential surgeries as ICU beds across the state reach a breaking point.

Grady Memorial Hospital did not provide a date for when these procedures can resume, but CEO John M. Haupert said that the decision was made following a hectic Labor Day Weekend.

"We are working through this as best we can, all while watching closely for a potential post-holiday COVID-19 surge. We realize this is a decision that will inconvenience our patients but is necessary under these extraordinary circumstances to keep our patients and staff safe."

The announcement comes as the state reaches a grim milestone in terms of ICU capacity: all 14 of the state’s hospital regions are now using more than 90% of their ICU beds at the same time, a milestone that has never been achieved since the start of the pandemic.


Trump to rally in Perry

Former President Donald Trump will return to Georgia for a campaign rally on September 25.

The former President is set to hold a rally at the Georgia State Fairgrounds in Perry, a town in Southwest Georgia. Expect to see a slew of statewide Republican candidates at the rally, including U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker.

The selection of Perry as the site of the rally is noteworthy, because it’s the same town where Gov. Brian Kemp kicked off his re-election campaign in July. The two have had quite a rocky relationship after the governor refused to overturn Joe Biden’s victory. But Trump has yet to endorse a primary challenger to his one-time ally.


This Week in Washington

The last several weeks have been very challenging for President Biden: a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, a disappointing August jobs report and an ongoing rise in COVID-19 cases. How are these crises impacting his popularity? Plus, the Justice Department is challenging a new restrictive abortion ban in Texas, and national Democrats are aiming to block a Republican-backed recall effort in California.


ATL City Council approves new public safety training facility

On Wednesday, Atlanta City Councilmembers overwhelmingly approved the construction of a new police and fire training center. The new facility will be built on 85 acres of forested land in DeKalb County.

The vote was scheduled to take place on Tuesday but was delayed to Wednesday as councilmembers heard over 17 hours of public comments about the new facility. Many were opposed to the new project, while others say that the new facility will help stop the increase in violent crime. The project was ultimately approved by a vote of 10-4. Here is how each councilmember voted:

YES

  • Michael Julian Bond

  • Andrea Boone

  • Andre Dickens

  • Dustin Hillis

  • J.P. Matzigkeit

  • Marci Collier Overstreet

  • Joyce Sheperd

  • Howard Shook

  • Matt Westmoreland

  • Cleta Winslow

NO

  • Natalyn Archibong

  • Antonio Brown

  • Jennifer Ide

  • Carla Smith


Cobb board of health recommends masks in schools

The Cobb County Board of Health voted this week to recommend mask requirements in all public, private and charter schools in the county.

The board encouraged schools to follow guidelines set by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), which encourage schools to mandate masks. Cobb County Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale, a member of the board of health, abstained from the vote.

Though the district has reported over 3,600 cumulative cases of COVID-19 since the start of the school year, the superintendent argued that the current measures in place throughout Cobb Schools are enough: “What is happening is working in our schools,” he says.

But the resolution is only a recommendation, not an official vote. Any school mask mandate(s) would have to be implemented by the Cobb County School Board. And if Ragsdale’s stance is any indication, that seems highly unlikely.


Georgia Remembers: 9/11 anniversary events in metro Atlanta

On Saturday, America will pause to mark the 20th anniversary of September 11th terrorist attacks. President Biden is scheduled to visit all three of the crash sites, and several former Presidents also plan to pay their respects. But how will Georgians be commemorating the somber anniversary? Click here for a list of events taking place in the metro Atlanta area. With no rain in the forecast Saturday, those who plan to attend outdoor ceremonies will not have to worry about packing umbrellas or raincoats.

I send my deepest condolences to every Georgian — and every American — who is still dealing with the aftermath of these devastating attacks. And may God continue to bless the nearly 3,000 patriots who lost their lives that day.