Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is encouraging city residents to continue to stay at home despite Gov. Brian Kemp’s controversial order to begin reopening businesses on Friday as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

During an April 23 phone conference with the Atlanta City Council, Bottoms said she had publicly expressed her concerns about the reopening order and would continue to do so. “I feel we are not in a position to begin opening up businesses in our city,” the mayor said.  “I’ve asked our law department to look at the governor’s order to see what we are empowered to do as a city. I encourage residents to stay home.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Bottoms said City Hall and city facilities would not be opening next week, and that she would be taking recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and her health advisors about when it might be safe to do so. She said Atlanta has been fortunate that the number of COVID-19 cases hadn’t been higher since steps were taken early to close down the city.

Bottoms said she would be meeting regularly with her new advisory council on reopening the city. The mayor noted that two new COVID-19 testing sites at Georgia State Stadium and Greenbriar Mall were open and she had joined other mayors in signing a letter to President Trump encouraging the collection of race and ethnicity data by ZIP code to track coronavirus hot spots.

Bottoms said received a racial slur via anonymous text message on April 22, which was seen by her children. The message, which Bottoms posted on her Twitter feed, told her to reopen the city while calling her the slur. Bottoms said she had a long conversation with her children and that “white supremacy is a sickness.” She said she would not be deterred in her message. “Cowards don’t run for office,” she said. “I will continue to use my voice to speak for this community.

In other city updates, Bottoms said the city was serving meals to those in need at 19 recreation centers. There’s also a food program for senior citizens. Sign-up and information about both are at the ATLSTRONG.org website.

She said approximately 2,000 homeless people had been tested in shelters and on the streets with 28 testing positive for COVID-19. She said an isolation hotel for the homeless in Downtown had been operational for two weeks and a second hotel partner was being sought. The city set aside $1.5 million to help the homeless and Bottoms said philanthropic partners had matched that sum.

Bottoms also discussed a “Strength in Beauty” relief fund for independent cosmetology workers being administered through Invest Atlanta and funded by philanthropic grants. “My mother owned a hair salon, so this is near and dear to my heart,” Bottoms said, adding that she had made a $10,000 donation to the fund and encouraged the hair industry and public to make donations via ATLSTRONG.org.

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