News

Coronavirus Updates: Kemp Offers Georgia As GOP Convention Host Amid Pandemic

Gov. Brian Kemp sent an open plea to Trump on Tuesday to consider his state as an alternate site for the quadrennial convention, which is set to gather more than 2,500 delegates and thousands more guests, press and security officials.
Gov. Brian Kemp sent an open plea to Trump on Tuesday to consider his state as an alternate site for the quadrennial convention, which is set to gather more than 2,500 delegates and thousands more guests, press and security officials.
Credit Brynn Anderson / Associated Press
'Add to My List' icon 'Added to My List' icon Add to My List In My List

Gov. Brian Kemp is offering Georgia and its “world-class facilities” as host of the Republican National Convention — a day after President Donald Trump threatened to pull the convention out of North Carolina if that state’s Democratic governor didn’t assure Trump that the August gathering can go forward despite coronavirus fears.

Kemp, a Republican, sent an open plea to Trump on Tuesday to consider his state as an alternate site for the quadrennial convention, which is set to gather more than 2,500 delegates and thousands more guests, press and security officials. Plans have been underway for more than a year to hold the convention in Charlotte, but Trump and national Republican officials have expressed concerns that local officials may not allow gatherings of that size during the pandemic.

“With world-class facilities, restaurants, hotels, and workforce, Georgia would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention,” Kemp tweeted Tuesday. “We hope you will consider the Peach State, ⁦‪@realDonaldTrump⁩!”

This comes as the Georgia Department of Health confirmed 43,983 cases of COVID-19 in the state and 1,895 deaths as of Monday evening.

Over the weekend, Trump complained  that North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper was “unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance in the arena.”

He added that Republicans “must be immediately given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied. If not, we will be reluctantly forced to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site.”

GOP officials say a determination is needed in the coming weeks in order to begin final preparations for the convention.

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said the president “is right to ask for assurances from North Carolina” about the convention.

“We want to have it in North Carolina, the president wants to have it in North Carolina,” she told Fox News on Tuesday morning. “It’s just the governor. He has to work with us. Every state we talk to says we want to nominate the president here, but this governor is up for reelection and hasn’t given us the reassurances we need. We need to be able to move forward in a concrete way. We are going to have those discussions.”

The Democratic mayor of Atlanta, Georgia’s capital and by far its largest city, said in a statement Tuesday that its reopening plan doesn’t mesh with Kemp’s offer to hold the convention in Georgia.

“Like North Carolina, the City of Atlanta is following a phased, data-driven approach to reopening. That plan does not contemplate hosting a large gathering event in August,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said. “In fact, several long-standing City-supported and sponsored events have already been canceled in order to comply with CDC guidelines.”

David Shafer, chairman of Georgia’s state Republican Party, said in a text message that he spoke to Kemp on Tuesday morning. “We have reached out to Republican National Committee Chairman Ronna Romney to let her know that, if North Carolina falls through, Georgia is ready to help,” Shafer told The Associated Press.

Kemp spokeswoman Candice Broce declined to answer questions about the hasty bid and instead referred questions to Shafer.

Teacher Raises Could Be Eliminated Due To Cutbacks

The three-thousand dollar teacher raises proposed by Gov. Brian Kemp could be eliminated because of the coronavirus pandemic.

During an end-of-the-year town hall Tuesday, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said her district can’t afford them:

“Let me be clear: the whole proposal about raises and things of that sort–that’s off the table,” she said.

Carstarphen said APS is facing a $50 million deficit because of the pandemic.

Meantime, Carstarphen said the district is considering several new safety measures for the upcoming year, including serving meals in classrooms, reducing busloads, and staggering teachers’ schedules.

A note of disclosure: The Atlanta Board of Education holds WABE’s broadcast license.

State’s Tolls Lose Millions, Official Says

Georgia’s tolls have suffered millions in lost revenue because of the pandemic.

The State Road and Tollway Authority says volume is down by about 70 percent… meaning there is less of a need for drivers to use their Peach Pass.

“The authority has estimated total revenues to decline by approximately $12.3 million, or 28%, …beginning the second week of March,” Chris Tomlinson, head of the Authority, said.

Tomlinson says revenue will probably still be down over the summer … and the state may have to cut back on some highway and bridge projects.