Many of the governors leading states with the highest rising numbers had refused to mandate masks in public or prevented local officials doing so. While a number of them have reversed course — including Arkansas’ Republican governor — and at least 25 states now have mask rules, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp banned cities and counties from requiring face coverings and then sued Atlanta to prevent the city from defying his order.
Georgia’s capital and 14 other cities had ordered masks be worn, but the Republican governor has maintained that no local directive can be more or less restrictive than his statewide mandates.
“How can we take care of our local needs when our state ties our hands behind our back and then says, ‘Ignore the advice of experts?’” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson told reporters. He later added: “If you don’t want to protect us, then allow us the opportunity to protect ourselves.”
Arizona, meanwhile, has been so hard hit by the virus, the medical examiner’s office in metro Phoenix has gotten portable storage coolers and ordered more to handle an influx of bodies — reminiscent of New York City at the height of the pandemic there earlier this year.