In late February of this year, I made the decision to give up my part-time gig in the city. I put in my resignation just in time to start quarantining at home from early March — before we even got our first confirmed COVID-19 case in America.
On April 27th, I also made the tough decision to cancel my move to Nevada and California. I had been planning this move since February 2019. As Georgia continues to descend into a grand sh!t storm, however, I find myself wishing I had made it out west before the virus came to visit and overstayed its welcome.
Of course, wishing is useless. I can’t change the past or singlehandedly make a virus go away. I can only make tentative plans based on the changing information that pours in every day. With that goal in mind, I decided to trade in my city car for a true desert rat.
The process of purchasing a 10-year-old vehicle and then getting some repairs done further exposed me to the ignorant underbelly of Georgia in the middle of a pandemic. Here are the highlights of my experience in this ridiculous redneck of a state so far.
It’s hard to believe the CDC is based in Atlanta.
This idiot is governor of the state where the CDC is headquartered.
He “didn’t know” about asymptomatic spread until 2 months after the rest of us.
Now he’s prohibiting mandating of CDC & Surgeon General mask guidelines?
& he CHEATED his way to governor.
— PeskyFact (@PeskyFact) July 16, 2020
When I first suspected that I might be stranded in Atlanta during the pandemic, the silver lining I found was that at least I was in the same city as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. In fact, Atlanta’s connections with both the CDC and Emory has made it one of the most trusted centers for handling infectious diseases for years.
Remember when we had that Ebola outbreak in 2014? Where do you think they sent the patients for treatment? Atlanta received four Ebola patients. Not only did all four live, but Emory and the CDC successfully contained the disease. To add to this, even after five years of no cases, Emory kept the Team Ebola task force alive, just in case.
This is fairly common knowledge for any Atlanta resident who bothers to read or watch something other than Fox News, so I strongly believed Atlanta would handle COVID-19 like a champ. Boy, was I wrong!
Black people in Atlanta aren’t wearing masks either.
On social media, we see a lot of videos of Karens and Kens getting very upset when someone asks them to wear a mask. Not only do they get loud, but some become physically combative. Here are two of the most memorable incidents I’ve seen so far:
My brother asked someone who wasn't wearing a mask to maintain 6 ft. behind him in a checkout line.
The guy reached out and grabbed my brother's mask, so my brother knocked him out.
If you live in Oak Cliff and see a guy who resembles me, maintain 6 ft. 😂
— Jason Rogers (@Rogers4Texas) June 28, 2020
Florida man at Fort Myers Costco in "Running the World Since 1776" shirt flips out on elderly woman who asked him to wear a mask and man who defended her #BecauseFlorida (via profjaffar) pic.twitter.com/eB0BBpSIk1 05#DontDie
— Tomthunkit™ (@TomthunkitsMind) July 18, 2020
In Atlanta, however, I can tell you firsthand that a lot of Black people aren’t wearing masks either. When I was buying Samson, the FJ Cruiser, I had to make two trips to the dealership in a primarily Black area of Decatur.
The first time, aside from one Black gentleman, my parents and I were the only ones wearing masks and we got mean looks from passersby the entire time — almost all of whom were Black. The second time around, we saw two other people with masks on, and they didn’t keep them on. Neither of these two mask-wearing individuals were Black.
When I bought Samson, I knew I had one big repair to get out of the way, so that meant two trips to the mechanic in the past week. While there, maybe half the Black people and a negligible fraction of Whites wore masks. No one who worked at the establishment wore one — not even the one Black guy.
Because of this, I gave up the air-conditioned waiting room and sat outside in the sun on a bench. I knew I had a long wait, so I brought my Kindle, earphones, and a bottle of hand sanitizer. Several people asked me why I didn’t go inside. None of them had masks on. I told them, “I would rather be hot than infected.”
The last persons who asked me were a Black couple. When I gave my standard response, the guy was already halfway through the door. He stepped back, closed it and directed his partner to sit with him outside on another bench. “You make an excellent point, young lady,” he told me. They stayed outside until the repairs on their cars were done.
There’s a big difference once you get outside the city limits.
I think a lot of people overestimate how liberal Atlanta is because of our large LGBTQ community and the fact that we are predominantly Black. If I’m going to be honest, though, I think a lot of Blacks would vote Conservative if the party of the Good Ole’ South wasn’t so historically and continually racist, because the rest of their values are so often the same.
I live outside the city limits of Atlanta in one of the liberal suburbs that make up “Metro Atlanta”. You see an immediate difference out here. Unlike the mask-defiant people we encounter in Decatur and the rest of the inner city limits, almost everyone wears masks in my POC-middle-class suburbs.
There are a lot of Asians in my community and I have never seen them out in public without masks. Whites are maybe 50/50 on the mask compliance and old White men are more likely not to wear one. I would say maybe 90% of Blacks wear masks and that young, Black men are usually the ones not wearing any.
When you adjust for Whites as a minority and POC as the majority races on my side of town, I would guess that 85% of us wear masks regularly. In fact, we wear our masks even out in the wide open on hiking and biking trails. As a result, I do my best to stay in my own area.
The cities and counties are doing the best they can, but Kemp ties their hands.
While Georgia itself is a sh!t show under Brian Kemp, there have been several attempts by local governments to step up and make good pandemic policies. For instance, local city governments and county governments had policies in place long before Kemp bothered to create any.
We felt safe under those guidelines in March, but then on April 2nd, Kemp issued his own Shelter in Place order that overrode all the others. The issue was that his also set a time limit on how long we should shelter in place. He even reopened the beaches in Savannah against the advice of the mayor.
When the order expired and nothing sensible replaced it, local governments once again struggled to see what they could do to protect their residents. In that interim, I received emergency alerts from several different counties.
These alerts came out almost immediately after Kemp refused to issue mask mandates for the state. Local governments then followed up with their own mask mandates. Kemp killed these attempts the same way he did before, by issuing an executive order that overrode everyone else’s in the state, while doing nothing at all.
The last effort the individual counties made was to offer virtual learning opportunities for schools that have now been forced open by the federal government. Some counties made virtual learning mandatory, while others gave students a choice. No one knows for sure if Kemp will continue to keep his mouth shut on this, but we’re crossing our fingers.
Private businesses are stepping up to do what they can on their own properties.
In May 2020, Planet Fitness made the news for excellent reasons at the same time that LA Fitness was getting dragged on social media. When Kemp decided gyms could finally reopen in Georgia, both gyms sent out very different letters to their members.
I received an email from Planet Fitness saying that despite the opportunity to re-open, they had weighed the pros and cons and intended to remain closed for a while longer. LA Fitness, on the other hand, immediately jumped at the opportunity to let everyone know they would reopen as soon as possible.
I can also confirm that all throughout the pandemic, my local Kroger has stopped playing music. Instead, it has what sounds like the WHO and CDC guidelines on repeat. It also kept essentials on sale, including scarce items like hand soap and toilet paper. At one point, they were selling bottles of 70% alcohol for 99 cents!
Kroger and several other businesses have now responded to the lack of adequate mask mandates across America by issuing their own. If you live in a state governed by an imbecile and populated by redneck ignoramuses, like I do, I strongly recommend trying to do business with companies that have mask mandates in place.
Below is the most recent list I’ve come across. I’m sure several other businesses — including some of your local mom-and-pop shops — are doing the same.
— ⭐️Chiefs Coach Steve 🏆 (@ChiefsSteve) July 16, 2020
Kemp sued Mayor Bottoms for defying his useless executive order.
Atlanta decided it would not lose its protections to Kemp’s mismanagement for a second time. As I mentioned before, compared to the surrounding liberal suburbs outside of the perimeter, city-dwellers are not complying with the CDC’s current guidelines to wear face coverings. That makes a mask mandate more necessary for them than the rest of us.
So, while other mayors and city councils complained and lashed out, Mayor Bottoms decided to keep her mask mandate in place. Kemp then filed a lawsuit against her. So, believe it or not, our governor is now suing the capital city’s mayor over the right to ask people inside the Atlanta city limits to wear masks.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is suing Atlanta Mayor Bottoms for requiring masks in the state’s most populous city, which the governor says violates his executive order pic.twitter.com/16YWuStrR7
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) July 18, 2020
3104 Georgians have died and I and my family are amongst the 106k who have tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, I have been sued by @GovKemp for a mask mandate. A better use of tax payer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing. #ATLStrong pic.twitter.com/z4hpTrCS1B
— Keisha Lance Bottoms (@KeishaBottoms) July 16, 2020
Governor Cuomo, all the way in NEW YORK (!!!) is doing more for Georgia than Kemp.
When New York hit the first level of rock bottom with the COVID-19 cases, Atlanta sent tens of thousands of health care professionals to help. Andrew Cuomo was overwhelmed with gratitude at the time and promised he would pay it forward once he got New York out of dark waters.
Ironically, on the same day that New York City recorded no deaths for the first time, Florida set a new U.S. state record for the most cases in a single day. On July 12th, our fellow redneck neighbour, who has an equally useless governor, reported a whopping 15,299 cases in just 24 hours.
For the first time since March 11, New York City officials reported zero coronavirus deaths today.
— Lauren Wolfe (@Wolfe321) July 12, 2020
Florida reports a staggering 15,300 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.
This is the highest single-day increase any state has ever reported since the pandemic began.
— Jesse Rodriguez (@JesseRodriguez) July 12, 2020
As a result, Florida is now hailed as the new “Ground Zero” of the coronavirus pandemic in America. They have been more officially called the “Red Zone.” When Florida coughs, Georgia sneezes, so we got lumped in right beside it.
Well, who do you think came to our rescue while Kemp has been twiddling his thumbs?
— Keisha Lance Bottoms (@KeishaBottoms) July 15, 2020
Cuomo is far from a perfect presidential candidate, but after seeing the way he handled the coronavirus in New York, and the way he stood up to Trump even after pulling out of the race, I am impressed. Him then stepping in to help Georgia fills me with regret that he hadn’t kept up his bid for the White House. On that note, I sincerely hope Mayor Bottoms runs for Governor of Georgia in 2022!
I can’t WAIT to get out of here! 😭
There isn’t a single soul on the planet as happy for Miss Rona’s unplanned visit as my mother is. The reason? It was the only thing that could and did keep me in Atlanta. Yet, even she is finally understanding why I want to leave this place so badly. I hate living in Atlanta and I dislike the people most of all.
I will never understand why so many self-proclaimed liberals in the so-called Blue Mecca of Atlanta aren’t following the guidelines issued right from their backyard. The worst part is that masks don’t protect the wearer; they protect the neighbours. Regular masks and face coverings cannot filter out small viral particles for the wearer, though they can filter out larger ones before they disintegrate.
So, what is the point of wearing a mask? They reduce how far infected droplets travel when we speak, laugh, sneeze or sing karaoke in the car. This is especially helpful with reducing asymptomatic spreads. Consequently, when I wear a mask, maybe 10% of the benefits are for me and 90% of the benefits are for you.
I really wish more people would get with the program, so we can put this pandemic behind us. Until then, I’ll keep making plans to get to a state where politicians make sensible decisions based on science. Unfortunately, I still have to drive through half a dozen red states to get there… 🤦♀️
What does the pandemic look like in your neck of the woods? Are people wearing masks and following other guidelines? I’d love to hear how the rest of you are faring. If you are as frustrated as I am, feel free to sound off in the comments below. You’re not alone!