Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 14, 2020


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 14, 2020

The first American society advocating for abolition of slavery was founded on April 14, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin would later serve as President of the organization.

On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln as the President attended a showing of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater, seven blocks from the White House; Lincoln survived nine hours before dying the next day.

RMS Titanic hit an iceberg just before midnight on April 14, 1912. Among those losing their lives was Major Archibald Butt of Augusta, Georgia, who had served as a military aide to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

“Captain Smith and Major Archibald Butt, military aide to the President of the United States, were among the coolest men on board. A number of steerage passengers were yelling and screaming and fighting to get to the boats. Officers drew guns and told them that if they moved towards the boats they would be shot dead. Major Butt had a gun in his hand and covered the men who tried to get to the boats. The following story of his bravery was told by Mrs. Henry B. Harris, wife of the theatrical manager: ‘The world should rise in praise of Major Butt. That man’s conduct will remain in my memory forever. The American army is honored by him and the way he taught some of the other men how to behave when women and children were suffering that awful mental fear of death. Major Butt was near me and I noticed everything that he did.”

“When the order to man the boats came, the captain whispered something to Major Butt. The two of them had become friends. The major immediately became as one in supreme command. You would have thought he was at a White House reception. A dozen or more women became hysterical all at once, as something connected with a life-boat went wrong. Major Butt stepped over to them and said: ‘Really, you must not act like that; we are all going to see you through this thing.’”

“He helped the sailors rearrange the rope or chain that had gone wrong and lifted some of the women in with a touch of gallantry. Not only was there a complete lack of any fear in his manner, but there was the action of an aristocrat. ‘When the time came he was a man to be feared. In one of the earlier boats fifty women, it seemed, were about to be lowered, when a man, suddenly panic-stricken, ran to the stern of it. Major Butt shot one arm out, caught him by the back of the neck and jerked him backward like a pillow. His head cracked against a rail and he was stunned. ‘Sorry,’ said Major Butt, ‘women will be attended to first or I’ll break every damned bone in your body.’”

“The boats were lowered one by one, and as I stood by, my husband said to me, ‘Thank God, for Archie Butt.’ Perhaps Major Butt heard it, for he turned his face towards us for a second and smiled.”

Kennesaw Junior College became a senior college on April 14, 1976 by vote of the Georgia Board of Regents.

By this time, enrollment had tripled from an initial student count of 1,014 in the fall of 1966 to 3,098 in the fall of 1975. Numerous local leaders were involved in the fight for four-year status, but the two politicians playing the most pivotal roles were state Representatives Joe Mack Wilson and Al Burruss of Marietta. In time the memories of both would be honored by having buildings named for them on the Kennesaw campus

A U.S. Postage stamp bearing Georgia’s state bird and state flower was issued as part of a series including all 50 states on April 14, 1982, with first day ceremonies held in Washington and each state.

On April 14, 2010, a signature by Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence sold at auction for $722,500 at an auction by Sotheby’s. About 50 examples of his signature are known to exist and six have been auctioned since 1974.

Happy birthday to former Atlanta Braves David Justice and Greg Maddux, who were both born on this date in 1966.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order, declaring that OCGA §16-11-38(b)(4), which prohibits wearing masks or hoods, does not apply to people wearing masks, hoods, or facial coverings in order to comply with healthcare agency guidance or to prevent spread of Covid 19.

From Fox5Atlanta:

The law states that it is a misdemeanor to wear “a mask, hood, or device by which any portion of the face is so hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer and is upon any public way or public property or upon the private property of another without the written permission of the owner or occupier of the property to do so.”

The law has some exceptions – including for theatrical productions, physical safety and gas masks for drills and emergencies – and was put in place to combat the Ku Klux Klan.

This was a law that was put in place to combat the KKK, but [State Senator Nikema] Williams says the law could have some different consequences now, especially on the African American community.

“People are using whatever they have at home, bandannas, scarves, to put across their faces. I don’t want that to be misconstrued,” state Sen. Nikema Williams said. “I don’t want anyone to put their health and safety on the line from wearing a mask because they don’t want to be profiled in a grocery store or they’re picking up medicine at a pharmacy.”

Kemp agreed, saying at a press conference he signed the order so people could follow the guidelines “without fear of prosecution.”

Governor Kemp also issued Executive Order, which declares a state of emergency related to recent storm damage.

From 13 WMAZ:

According to a release from his office, the state of emergency covers all of Georgia’s 159 counties and is because of severe storm damage across the state over the last 24 hours.

“We are praying for those who lost loved ones overnight and the families dealing with severe storm damage. In coordination with private-sector partners, multiple state agencies – including the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, Department of Public Safety, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Transportation, and Georgia Forestry Commission – are working hard to restore power, clear debris, and provide necessary assistance to families across the state,” said Governor Kemp. “This morning, I also spoke with FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor, and I greatly appreciate his offer of federal assistance as we work to rebuild and recover from these storms.”

In addition to 200 beds at the Georgia World Congress, a temporary medical unit will be built-out at Navicent in Macon, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced a “temporary medical unit” at a Macon hospital will treat COVID-19 patients beginning early next month.

The unit, along with others in Rome and Gainesville, will share some 125 staffers. It’s expected to be operational by May 5.

“Although this temporary medical unit is not necessary for patient care at this time, this precautionary measure is being taken in the event that extra capacity is needed during Georgia’s anticipated patient peak in COVID-19 activity,” Navicent officials said in a news release. “This peak is expected later this month. As a tertiary teaching hospital, The Medical Center Navicent Health must stand ready to take all patients, regardless of their ability to pay, from over 55 counties in central and south Georgia.”

Georgia has hired Jackson Healthcare to add 570 “healthcare professionals” to several hospitals around the state. Kemp said in the release that more than 20 employees had been sent to Central State Hospital in Milledgeville. The hospital reported 24 staff and 12 patients have tested positive for COVID-19, and two staff members have died.

From AccessWDUN:

During Gov. Brian Kemp’s coronavirus update Monday at the State Capitol in Atlanta, the governor said the state will set up four temporary medical units across the state, one of them in Gainesville.

“As I’ve mentioned previously, the state purchased four temporary medical units to expand bed capacity and strategically deploy based on need,” Kemp said. “In Rome, we will have one unit operational by April 21, and in Albany, we will have a second unit operational on April 28. We will also have one unit in Gainesville and one unit in Macon, both set to become operational on May 5.”

The latest prediction for the peak of coronavirus cases in Georgia is April 26.

Gov. Kemp announced changes in the criteria for eligibility for Covid 19 testing, according to The Brunswick News.

Testing criteria now includes workers in critical infrastructure and asymptomatic people who have had direct contact with coronavirus patients, Kemp said during a briefing in Atlanta.

Testing will also continue to be prioritized for people showing symptoms, first responders, health care workers, law enforcement, and long-term care facility residents and staff regardless of symptoms, Kemp said.

From GPB News:

The governor called Georgia’s lag in testing numbers unacceptable.

“Despite our partnerships and undeniable progress, our testing numbers in Georgia continue to lag,” he said. “We need to be firing on all cylinders to prepare for the days and weeks ahead.”

As of noon Monday, only 58,000 or so COVID-19 tests had been processed in a state of about 10 million people.

But Kemp said across the state, the hospital infrastructure is not yet full, and over the weekend his office announced a 200-bed surge capacity hospital is being constructed at the Georgia World Congress Center.

“As of today, we have 2,617 emergency room beds, 929 critical care beds, and nearly 6,000 general inpatient beds available statewide,” he said. “By the end of this week, we hope to provide this bed capacity update daily to the public.”

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission will meet via teleconference today at 2 PM, according to their website.

The public may attend via teleconference by dialing +1 (631) 992-3221 (Access Code: 808-142-911). Public input will be taken but those wishing to speak should register with the agency as quickly as possible by sending your name and email address to Katie Easterwood, Legal Administrative Assistant at

Copies of the planned agenda as well as the Advisory Opinions are available to download and view on the right.

Click here for the meeting agenda.

Click here for proposed Advisory Opinion No. 2020-01.

Click here for proposed Advisory Opinion No. 2020-02.

Gov. Kemp swore in Carla Wong McMillian as a Justice on the Georgia Supreme Court, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

In a private ceremony Friday because of the coronavirus ban on public gatherings, Gov. Brian Kemp swore in McMillian. She is the first Asian Pacific American to serve on the court, and the first to serve on any state supreme court in the Southeast, according to a news release by the Georgia Supreme Court.

McMillian served seven years on the Court of Appeals of Georgia before Kemp selected her to fill the seat left vacant by the retirement of Justice Robert Benham.

Qualifying is open for the Special Election to fill the vacancy in the 4th State Senate District created by the death of Sen. Jack Hill, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Qualifying continues in Atlanta only on Tuesday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Wednesday, April 15, beginning at 9 a.m. but ending that day at 1 p.m.,

Hill, from Reidsville, represented District 4 in the state Senate for almost 30 years before his sudden passing April 6 at age 75. He would have appeared as the only candidate for his seat in what was originally to have been the May 19 Republican primary. He would have faced no Democratic opposition, either.

Three candidates had qualified, all as Republicans, by Monday afternoon. They are Dr. Scott Bohlke, a Brooklet physician, Billy Hickman, a Statesboro certified public accountant, and Kathy Palmer, a Swainsboro attorney.

State Rep. Vernon Jones (D-DeKalb) has endorsed the reelection of President Donald Trump, according to the AJC.

[T]he DeKalb County legislator told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he was not switching parties but that he views Trump as a transformative figure who has helped African American voters, military veterans and farmers with his policies.

“It’s very simple to me. President Trump’s handling of the economy, his support for historically black colleges and his criminal justice initiatives drew me to endorse his campaign,” Jones said.

“This is not about switching parties. There are a lot of African Americans who clearly see and appreciate he’s doing something that’s never been done before,” Jones added. “When you look at the unemployment rates among black Americans before the pandemic, they were at historic lows. That’s just a fact.”

Jones carried nearly three-quarters of his heavily Democratic district in 2016, the last time he faced a Republican opponent. He drew a challenge this year from Democrat Rhonda Taylor, and he is the target of a complaint alleging he doesn’t live in the district. Jones called the accusation “baseless.”

“A philosopher once said, ‘One courageous man in the crowd is a majority.’ I’ve got the courage to express my convictions,” Jones said. “I believe that Donald Trump is the best person to lead this country going forward.”

Augusta University Medical Center is preparing for a peak in Covid cases, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

With its 20 negative pressure rooms, including five much larger and specially equipped critical care rooms, it might be the only unit of its size in the country, said [Dr. Richard] Schwartz, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Augusta University.

“There’s almost no way infection can spread from one room to another,” he said. “We’ve really tried to make this as safe of an environment as it could be for the staff, for other patients as they come in because we are trying at every point to separate the respiratory patients from the non-respiratory patients.”

That begins before patients even set foot in the department in a triage tent outside, where patients with respiratory symptoms can be evaluated.

“We get vital signs on them and we actually do a telemedicine visit with the patients initially,” Schwartz said. “If they have good vital signs and they really just qualify for testing, we’ll get a COVID test on them. A significant portion of them don’t even need to come into the hospital. They’ll just get tested and go home.”

That conserves resources for those with more serious illness and also helps to mitigate risk, he said.

“It’s to preserve the beds for the sickest (patients), but we also want to make sure the appropriate patients are coming in and getting care,” Schwartz said.

Four Rome-area colleges received CARES Act funding from the federal government, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The four colleges in Floyd County received over $10 million from the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, the CARES Act.

At least half of it, according to the U.S. Department of Education, should go directly to students in emergency aid.

“Colleges and universities are required to utilize the $6.28 billion made available … to provide cash grants to students for expenses related to disruptions to their educations due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” said a statement from the Department of Education, “including things like course materials and technology as well as food, housing, health care, and childcare.”

The Georgia Republican Party is in discussions with the RNC about how to cancel the rest of this year’s conventions while still being eligible to send delegates to the National Convention, according to the AJC.

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