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WABE’s Week in Review: A Presidential Visit, A Justice Remembered And Issues At The CDC

The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, seen in February, was honored this week.
The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, seen in February, was honored this week.
Credit Patrick Semansky / AP

President Donald Trump made his 10th visit to Georgia as commander-in-chief on Friday. He spoke at the Cobb Galleria to present his plan for Black economic empowerment. And Trump said his administration is winning over Black voters.

“Over the last 50 years Black Americans have mostly voted Democrat, but every day more Black Americans are deciding the old way is not working,” said Trump. “Five decades of evidence have proved that Democrat politicians do not care about the Black community.”

President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign event at the Cobb Galleria Centre Friday in metro Atlanta.
President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign event at the Cobb Galleria Centre Friday in metro Atlanta. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Meantime, former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams says Trump’s visit will not bring the success he is looking for with Black voters in November.

“We know that his failure in leadership, his failure on COVID-19, his failure on racial justice, his failure on the economy mean that he will not be adding votes to his column here in the state of Georgia,” said Abrams.

Abrams said a significant number of the 800,000 new Georgia voters who have registered since the 2018 election are under 30 and are people of color.

Several recent polls have the former vice president Joe Biden and President Trump neck-and-neck in Georgia.

She paved the way… 

Former Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, Leah Ward-Sears, spoke on WABE’s Closer Look this week about Ginsberg’s legacy. She begins the conversation with Rose Scott reflecting on what Ginsburg meant to her career.

Drama at the CDC… 

A former CDC official criticizes the agency over its latest reversal, this time in guidance on how the coronavirus is transmitted.
A former CDC official criticizes the agency over its latest reversal, this time in guidance on how the coronavirus is transmitted.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta made a declaration that shocked many in the public health world. It said people who’d been exposed to someone with the coronavirus didn’t need to get tested if they didn’t show symptoms. Reporting from Apoorva Mandavilli of the New York Times found that guidance was published despite the objections of CDC scientists. On an episode of “Did You Wash Your Hands?,” our podcast about the coronavirus, she talks with health reporter Sam Whitehead about her reporting and how that guidance change was eventually reversed.

Another impact of COVID-19… 

Covenant House Georgia is a shelter for young people ages 18 to 24 in Atlanta. It also provides counseling and education services to youths as young as 16. (Courtesy of Covenant House Georgia)

When schools shut down last spring due to the coronavirus, some students couldn’t get services they depended on, including counseling. As Martha Dalton reported the pandemic has made it harder for counselors and those who need help to find each other.

Reports of child abuse dropped nationwide. The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) reported a 50% drop in reports of neglect and abuse in April after schools shifted to online learning. Experts say that’s probably because teachers weren’t seeing students in person and, therefore, weren’t reporting suspected abuse as frequently.

Battling the CDC in court… 

A Georgia woman is one of several property owners suing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over its recent moratorium on evictions. Stephannie Stokes told the story of Sonya Jones, runs a farm in Odum, a town in Southeast Georgia. She produces eggs from more than 70,000 chickens. As she’s earned money over the last 22 years, she’s bought rental homes.

“When you work by yourself, you don’t really have retirement,” Jones said. “So that’s what I’m trying to do–just build that up so that you know, when I retire, I will have something.”

But recently, she’s felt like that something doesn’t belong to her.

One of her tenants fell behind on rent—she and her tenant disagree about the exact amount. When Jones tried to evict the tenant in court, the judge told Jones the CDC is prohibiting most evictions for nonpayment of rent until the end of the year. After Jones left the courthouse, she learned about a lawsuit arguing the CDC does not have that right.  It’s from the National Civil Liberties Alliance, a group that says it protects constitutional freedom. The lawsuit claims the moratorium is government overreach. Jones joined the suit.

Concerns for the safety of inmates… 

Several state lawmakers are calling for an investigation into Georgia’s prisons over safety concerns during the pandemic.  As Christopher Alston reported they sent a letter to the Commissioner for the Georgia Department of Corrections  Timothy Ward questioning whether the state prison system is cruel and unusual punishment, essentially violating the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

“The Constitution doesn’t care how much money the General Assembly sees fit to budget,” said Sandy Springs Representative Josh McLaurin, who sent the letter, co-signed by his fellow first-term Democrats. “The Constitution asks the question is there an unacceptable risk of violence.”

McLaurin’s letter cites evidence gathered by the Southern Center for Human Rights. The advocacy organization called for the Department of Justice to investigate after finding homicide and suicide rates in Georgia prisons have reached unprecedented levels. They also found that riots have broken out at multiple facilities and that 30% of department positions were unfilled as of June.

The Georgia Department of Corrections did not respond to requests for comment.