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WABE’s Week in Review: More Insurrection Fallout In Georgia As COVID Deaths Spike Across The State

Pro-Trump supporters breeched security and stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. An investigation underway will determine if any off-duty officers were involved in the attack.
Pro-Trump supporters breeched security and stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. An investigation underway will determine if any off-duty officers were involved in the attack.
Credit Roberto Schmidt / AFP via Getty Images

The fallout continues from the insurrection by an angry mob spurred on by President Trump at the Capitol last week. Trump, of course, was impeached – again. He’s the only President to get impeached twice.

In Georgia, the list of residents who allegedly participated in the violent attack continues to grow as more get identified.

Christopher Georgia, a 53-year-old bank manager from Alpharetta, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound last weekend. He’d been charged with unlawful entry and curfew violation in D.C. He was one of three Georgia residents arrested for offenses, including threatening House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and carrying a handgun without a license.

A 34-year-old woman from Kennesaw died after reportedly being trampled by the mob. She was one of five people whose lives ended in the riot.

One man photographed carrying zip-tie restraints who’s been arrested also grew up in North Georgia.

At least three other Georgians who documented themselves at the riot but avoided arrest have since lost their jobs or are facing scrutiny.

Georgia Lawmaker Calls Out State’s Election Fraud Hearings… 

The legislative session in Georgia began this week, but before the business of the state could really get underway, some wanted to hold Georgia lawmakers accountable for the multiple hearings here on election fraud allegations. The hearings featured a number of speakers, including President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who continued to make baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in Georgia and were allowed to make unchallenged conspiracy theory claims.

One Democratic state senator took the Senate floor on Tuesday to call out her colleagues for their participation in those hearings and accused them of incitement.

John Lewis Still Bridging The Divide…

Obama and Rep. John Lewis walk across across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to mark the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches in Selma, Ala.
Obama and Rep. John Lewis walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to mark the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches in Selma, Ala.

A bipartisan effort among Georgia lawmakers involves the late, longtime Georgia congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis.

The National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington D.C. hosts two statues from each state. Lawmakers from the states select which statues go into the Hall. One of Georgia’s statues is of Alexander Stephens, the former vice president of the Confederacy—who was also governor of Georgia.

There’s been a push to remove Stephens before, as even some of his descendants want it removed. But it is up to state legislatures to do it. There is precedence for that as Virginia lawmakers recently removed a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

“I stand to introduce a resolution, to place a statue of him [Lewis] in Statuary Hall in the United States Congress,” said State Rep. Al Williams, who said he marched with Lewis across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965.

The march in 1965 would become known as Bloody Sunday when police brutally beat civil rights demonstrators as they protested for justice. It was just one of many events that are part of the incredible life of John Lewis, who, even in passing in July, drew bipartisan mourning for a man who helped shape the nation.

The measure to replace Stephens’ statue with that of Lewis pushed by Williams, a Democrat, was co-signed by Republican Speaker of the House David Ralston. Gov. Brian Kemp and other top state officials from both parties have previously endorsed the idea of replacing Stephens. 

The other statue representing the state in the Hall is of Crawford Long, a Georgia doctor credited with the discovery of anesthesia.

A “Battered, Not Broken” State… 

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp deliveries his State of the State address as Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, left, and House Speaker David Ralston look on in the House Chambers Thursday in Atlanta.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp deliveries his State of the State address as Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, left, and House Speaker David Ralston look on in the House Chambers Thursday in Atlanta. (John Bazemore/Associated Press)

In his second state of the state address as Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp reflected on the bruising past year, which featured a deadly pandemic that continues to rage in Georgia and a high-profile political battle with President Donald Trump.

As the state continues to see rising coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths, he vowed Georgia would “win this fight against COVID-19” and asserted the state “while battered, is not broken.”

Read and hear more from the WABE team on Kemp’s State of the State address. 

As COVID Rages, Medicaid Becomes Even More Important… 

The slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine is just one public health challenge facing Georgia right now.  Kemp is installing his alternative to expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. His goal is to get health insurance to more low-income Georgians while finally drawing some matching federal money, which the state had missed because it refused to expand Medicaid for years.

Hear the Political Breakfast team discuss just how much good they think this will do and why it has taken so long to do it. 

Georgia’s Largest Hospital is Full… 

 

Grady Memorial Hospital—the states largest hospital—is currently at capacity due to a mix of COVID-19 patients and others. (Al Such/WABE)

The head of Grady Memorial hospital—the largest in the state of Georgia—said his facility had run out of space because of an influx of COVID-19 patients.

The facility is full of a mix of COVID-19 patients and those suffering from “seasonal illnesses” that usually strain capacity, according to a statement from Grady Memorial Hospital’s John Haupert.

If the trajectory of patients remains the same, the hospital is going to have to make “tough choices on providing care,” continues Haupert’s statement.

Health experts are continuing to worry about the increasing number of cases as a new, more infectious variant of the disease is spreading in the U.S.

Meantime, Georgia is also seeing a spike in deaths across the state. For the first time, Georgia has seen four-straight days this week of triple-digit death totals from the disease (145, 136, 141, 157), including the one-day record on Friday.

Vaccine Frustration…

Georgia has struggled with its vaccine rollout. Residents are struggling to find the COVID vaccine in the state. (John Bazemore/Associated Press)

On Friday, Publix announced it would have COVID-19 vaccines available statewide. Soon after the announcement, appointments were full, and no more doses were available. That is a trend here in Georgia, which has struggled with its vaccine rollout. Residents are struggling to find the COVID vaccine in the state.

“Basically, it’s almost hopeless to find any vaccine here in Georgia,” said Daniel Vaughn, who said he’s looked in four counties for available doses.

“Fannin County Health Department says there are 47 calls ahead of you, but if you’re calling in regard to COVID, call the 888 number, which doesn’t answer,” said Vaughn, who also said his doctor at Emory was unable to help as well.

“This is no doubt frustrating,” said Gov. Brian Kemp when asked about the poor vaccine rollout by the state.

Kemp blamed part of the frustration on miscommunication. When the state approved vaccinations for those over 65 years old, it was done because some healthcare workers in rural Georgia declined the vaccine, and officials did not want those doses to go unused. Now too many Georgians over 65 want the vaccine.

“We have much more demand than supply,” said Kemp. “I can’t control the supply.”

The federal government allots the supply.

“It seems like we’ve been focusing more on the first step: Getting it [the vaccine] to states and a little bit less on the second one: Getting it into arms,” said Nikolay Osadchiy, who teaches logistics and supply chain management at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. “And that seems to be playing out right now.”