As the South takes stock of the coronavirus pandemic, a number of Republican governors are backtracking and beginning to show signs of heeding the advice of public health experts. There is a consensus that masks are effective in stopping the spread of coronavirus; Republican governors in states like Alabama and Arkansas have now mandated their use, following the lead — weeks later — of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.
But Governor of Georgia Brian Kemp has stood firm in resisting a mask mandate. Governor Kemp went as far as filing a lawsuit against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, seeking to overturn her mask mandate for the city. He accused her of playing “pandemic politics” even as her policies would have conformed with CDC recommendations on slowing the spread of the virus.
Forest knows a thing or two about politically motivated lawsuits, which North Carolinians have blasted in letters to the editor across the state. He flouts the scientific consensus on masks and their ability to slow the spread of coronavirus, suggesting they are ineffective, which PolitiFact rated false. He even continues holding in-person fundraisers with supporters packed tightly together and with few if any wearing face masks.
Polling shows a bipartisan majority of voters strongly support mask mandates, according to Politico. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest in recent weeks claimed that there was no evidence that masks helped to curb the spread, citing a medical journal article taken out of context. The authors left no room for doubt: “In truth, the intent of our article was to push for more masking, not less.”
Consistently, Dan Forest has advocated unpopular policies that are out of step with North Carolinians. Polling indicates that Governor Cooper enjoys support for his handling of the crisis, while Forest offers policies that are more in line with the increasingly unpopular Brian Kemp. The Forest approach to governing is happening in real time in Georgia and the results are not promising.
Read more about the mask debates in Georgia from Politico.