Sometimes people in high authority positions make stupid decisions. It doesn’t matter the party when it comes to people’s safety. Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp has made a decision that has him in the hot seat at this time. He decided he was going to open up the beaches in Georgia as long as people maintain the social distancing rule. In a perfect world, it would be nice, but seeing how people have acted during this time by not following the rules, it is not such a good idea.
Tybee Island is a tourist-dependent location where the island depends on cash flow from tourists. Since March 20, the island has been shut off to everyone due to the majority of the people who reside there are elderly, and they did not want outsiders bringing in the coronavirus.
There are no nearby hospitals and no way to care for anyone who would contract the virus. All that connects the island to the mainland is a two-lane highway and would make it almost impossible to move patients if the main road was clogged with traffic.
Other communities in Georgia followed in the island’s footsteps as they closed down all rentals for short-term and all of the hotels and motels in the areas. At the time, all was well with the communities and keeping the elderly safe.
At the end of last week, Governor Kemp reopened all of the state’s beaches. Local leaders were furious, and they are still enraged.
Mayor Shirley Sessions, the Tybee Island mayor, wrote an angry letter which stated, “As the Pentagon ordered 100,000 body bags to store the corpses of Americans killed by the Coronavirus, Governor Brian Kemp dictated that Georgia beaches must reopen, and declared any decision-makers who refused to follow these orders would face prison and/or fines. The health of our residents, staff, and visitors are being put at risk, and we will pursue legal avenues to overturn his reckless mandate.”
Governor Kemp went along with the stay at home to keep nonessential workers home and off the streets and businesses. The governor elaborated, people are still allowed to make necessary trips to pharmacies, medical appointments, and grocery stores.
He also stated if people can go out and exercise, then they should be able to go to the beach. There will be officers patrolling the beaches from Georgia’s Department of Public Safety and Department of Natural Resources to make sure people are complying with the social distancing rules.
As the announcement was made by Governor Kemp, local officials were caught off guard. The county commissioner of Glynn County, Georgia, Allen Booker, called the governor’s announcement “stupid and crazy at the same time.”
Sessions begged the public to defy the governor’s orders making it okay to visit the beaches. She stated there is no one there to take down the barricades.
Sessions remained with a nonpartisan stance on the situation. She was only concerned about the safety of the people. Sessions said, “We are now in a position where we are pleading with the public and with our residents to adhere to the beach closing.”
Sessions continued to explain that there are not enough resources to maintain the beaches. There are 25 officers for the smallest beach in the state of Georgia. Five officers have self-quarantined due to possible exposure, and one officer tested positive for the virus.
The argument continued since the beach is so small, there is no way to keep people at a safe distance from one another. Sessions told reporters, “We don’t have lifeguards on our beaches yet, and if people decide to go into the ocean and there’s an accident, something really tragic, Tybee is going to be in a very bad position.”
Governor Kemp made no comments to respond to Sessions. He put out a post on Twitter, showing “no issues and very few visitors.”
The issue is controversial and could be looked at through a better angle, one of common sense. Savannah, Georgia’s Mayor Van Johnson, told reporters, “We are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, and while we are closing schools, we are reopening beaches. In my mind, that does not compute.”
Georgia currently has 6,742 cases and 219 deaths. The wisest decision would be to remain in the stay at home order until all of this mess is over and done. With the rising numbers, it is a foolish decision to have people out and about in these times.