Nine Georgia House of Representatives democrats penned a letter to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and State School Superintendent Richard Woods urging them to “come off the sidelines” with regard to masks and the coronavirus vaccine.
Kemp has been an outspoken supporter of both wearing masks and the COVID-19 vaccine, but has pushed back on all efforts to mandate either. House democrats are asking him to both mandate masks and stop pushing back against vaccine verification.
“The most powerful step the governor can take to prevent illness and deaths is to start being active rather than passive,” said these members of the Georgia House Democratic Caucus in a joint statement. “We urge the governor and the state school superintendent to mandate masks and fund statewide incentive programs. Stop pushing back against vaccine verification and start invalidating anti-vaccine rhetoric. Take the active steps and come off the sidelines. Public health requires investment from the whole system, not just the grassroots advocacy. In one word, lead.”
“This virus has been turned into a political issue by elected Republicans, and now our children and other individuals are dying,” said Rep. Donna McLeod, a democrat who represents Lawrenceville. “The fact that we all take an oath to serve and protect means this is a sacred responsibility. This failure by elected Republicans is bordering on criminal negligence.”
The lawmakers are urging state leaders to use science-based mitigation strategies that may help reduce transmission in schools, which includes mask requirements, social distancing and ventilation upgrades where possible. These lawmakers say they are concerned that positive COVID-19 tests in Georgia children will continue to increase and that more Georgia children will lose their lives to the virus.
The group of lawmakers are calling on the governor and state school superintendent to help prevent transmission among children by requiring masks in and out of schools.
In a series of tweets Monday after news broke that the FDA has approved the Pfizer vaccine, Kemp said he urged the FDA early this month to approve the vaccine in the hopes “more Georgians will become comfortable getting vaccinated once the safe, effective vaccines have full federal approval.” With the vaccine receiving full approval, Kemp said he continues to urge all unvaccinated Georgians to “talk with a medical professional about getting their shot.”
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