Georgia NAACP leaders call on governor to keep shelter-in-place order

Some nonessential businesses are set to reopen Friday.

With Georgia set to reopen nonessential businesses starting this Friday, NAACP branches across the state are calling on Gov. Brian Kemp to maintain its shelter-in-place order.

In a statement signed by 11 presidents of Georgia branches, the leaders demanded a withdrawal of the governor's executive order, which would allow gyms, hair salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors in the state to reopen Friday while adhering to social distancing and hygiene requirements. Movie theaters and restaurants would follow suit by Monday.

The NAACP presidents called on the leaders of Georgia's cities and counties to continue to follow their own shelter-in-place measures.

"Local measures have likely saved lives and infectious disease experts warn that returning to pre-COVID-19 practices too soon could lead to a widening of the pandemic," the statement said.

The statement also called for more free testing, protective personal equipment and tracking "so that we can see a clear path to recovery."

Georgia has 21,512 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 872 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and Medicine's Coronavirus Resource Center. The death rate of black patients from COVID-19 in Georgia is 9%, higher than the state's overall death rate of 4%, according to the NAACP statement.

"We call upon our local political leaders to continue to work on behalf of all Georgia citizens, and especially its most vulnerable citizens who need and deserve reparative outreach and service," said the statement.

The White House guidelines to reopening states call for 14 days of declining COVID-19 cases. The NAACP alleges the state has not met the guidelines to reopen.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he "disagreed strongly" with the governor's decision to reopen the state's economy and reiterated that again on Thursday.

"I wasn't happy with Brian Kemp. I wasn't at all happy," Trump said at Thursday's task force briefing. "And I could have done something about it if I wanted to, but I am saying let the governors do it. But I wasn't happy with Brian Kemp. Spas, beauty parlors, tattoo parlors, no. And by the way, I want them to all -- I want them to open, and I want them to open as soon as possible and I want the state to open. But I wasn't happy with Brian Kemp."

On Twitter Wednesday, Kemp said the reopening is "driven by data and guided by state public health officials."

"We will continue with this approach to protect the lives -- and livelihoods -- of all Georgians," he said.