ATLANTA (WSAV) – With some non-essential businesses and restaurants opening back up, Gov. Brian Kemp remains steadfast that he’s doing what’s best for “the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”
The state has been in the national spotlight in recent days with Kemp receiving criticism for his decision to open businesses like salons and bowling alleys.
President Donald Trump was among those to say the governor was making some changes too soon, adding that he was in violation of the White House’s guidelines.
During a press conference Monday, Kemp said again that his decision was based on data and recommendations from his team. He seemed to get a bit riled up when pressed on the question of what data he was referring to.
“Well I know it may be hard for NBC News to understand this but all of the data is publicly available on the public health department’s website,” Kemp said to reporter Blayne Alexander. “As I said before, I made those decisions in conjunction with Dr. Toomey and many, many other people following data — and there’s a lot of data we’re following.”
The governor didn’t refer to any specific data and gave the floor to Toomey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH).
“We didn’t meet the full gating criteria,” Toomey said. “We met several of them and we were approaching a plateauing which made us feel that it would be safe to move forward.”
She added that adequate hospital and testing capacity were contributing factors.
When asked again about Trump’s criticism, Kemp said he simply appreciates what the president and his administration is doing.
“You know, he said it best today the media wants to continue to divide us during this period,” the governor said. “But let me assure you there will be no dividing.”
He later said many organizations report “the truth” and seemed to take pause when a reporter asked if he should call out specific outlets rather than refer to the media in general.
What’s next for Georgia?
Kemp’s shelter-in-place order is set to expire on Thursday along with a ban on short-term rentals.
The governor said he’ll provide further direction on the state’s next “measured step forward” in a few days based on guidelines from the White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The governor said Monday that his focus is largely on protecting those who are most at risk of infection — the elderly and medically fragile.
He asked those individuals to shelter at home at least through Wednesday, May 13, which is when Georgia’s public health emergency declaration expires.
Both Kemp and Toomey also urged Georgians to utilize telehealth services.
The governor reminded residents about free screening through Augusta University Health online or at 706-721-1852.