Editorial Roundup: Georgia

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

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Aug. 11

The Daily Citizen-News on Gov. Brian Kemp's stance on local control:

Imagine our surprise when we learned that Gov. Brian Kemp said on Monday that it is up to local school districts and superintendents to decide whether to require students to wear masks during in-person instruction because of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We’ve given the responsibility to the schools and to the local superintendent,” Kemp said during a press conference with U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams at the launch of a new COVID-19 testing site at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “Like most things in education, I’m a firm believer that the local governments know their school better than the state government does. We’ve been handling things that way for a long time.”

But Kemp, a Republican, does not extend that same logic, that local officials know better how to run their communities than the state does — a hallmark of Republican candidates for years and years — to the cities in the state.

This is hypocrisy at its best, or worst.

In an executive order in July, Kemp suspended “any local laws or rules that are more restrictive than his order, including local rules or ordinances requiring people to wear masks, even on public property or in public buildings,” according to The Associated Press.

He also brought a lawsuit that sought to block Atlanta’s mayor from ordering people to wear masks in public. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says because of COVID-19 that “Everyone should wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain,” with some few exceptions.

“You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick,” the CDC notes. “The mask is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.”

If Kemp truly believes that local education officials know their school better than the state government does, then he is being untrue to himself in fighting local municipal officials who surely know their communities better than he does. Or is he merely playing a political game where he achieves his desired objective — no mask mandates — however he can achieve it.

Local control here, state action — bullying — there.

The citizens of this state are not that gullible. They know a double standard when they see it. It is on display here.

Governor, you can and must do better.

Online: https://www.dailycitizen.news

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Aug. 11

The Brunswick News on being cautious of scams during the pandemic:

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of things about our daily lives, but there are some things that never change. While the majority of us are doing what we can to adapt to the changing situation, there are others who are out to prey upon the vulnerable for a quick buck.

The pandemic hasn’t stopped the lowlifes who try to scam senior citizens. As vulnerable as the elderly are to the coronavirus, they have been encouraged to shelter in place for the majority of the pandemic. Unfortunately, that vulnerability also makes them prime targets for scammers.

According to the inspector general’s office for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, scammers are offering COVID-19 tests to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information. The services they are offering, though, are not legitimate.

The department’s website says scammers are reaching their targets in a variety of ways, from telemarketing calls and text messaging to social media and just plain knocking on doors.

What can these scammers do with the information they collect? It can be used to commit medical identity theft and fraudulently bill federal health care programs.

The department urges people to be careful about what information they give out to strangers. Be suspicious of unsolicited requests for Medicare or Medicaid numbers and any unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies. Don’t open any links or respond to text messages about COVID-19 sent from people you do not know.

Scammers try to pass themselves off as legitimate. Be on the lookout for people claiming to offer grants from Health and Human Services and fake contract tracers. A legitimate contract tracer will not ask for Medicare numbers or any financial information.

It may be too late for those who have already been defrauded, though some help could be available. Attorney generals from 44 states, including Georgia’s Chris Carr, are urging Congress to make elderly victims of fraud eligible for federal assistance, according to Capitol Beat News Service. The group wants the provision to be included in the next relief package that Congress is working on to assist citizens hit hard by the pandemic.

Considering how politicized everything is in our world today, the fact that this initiative has bipartisan support from almost every attorney general in the country would suggest this ought to be a no-brainer for Congress. Hopefully, they will take up the mantle and help those who have been hurt by swindlers using the fear of a global pandemic to line their pockets.

Online: https://www.thebrunswicknews.com

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Aug. 7

Valdosta Daily Times on church services and the spread of COVID-19:

Church services are potential COVID-19 super spreaders.

The virus has been spread at church services throughout the country with the latest example being almost 100 people being infected after a man attended a worship service in Ohio.

No one here wants that to happen at their congregation.

The state of Georgia urges caution.

There are steps the state’s department of public health says church leaders can take to help keep congregants a little more safe.

Here are the recommendations:

— Attendees, staff and volunteers should wear a mask, and masks should be supplied for anyone who does not have one.

— Elderly and medically fragile people should stay home (the state of Georgia and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously defined “elderly” as 65 or older).

— Online meeting options should continue to be offered.

— Social distancing of at least six feet should be maintained.

— If necessary to maintain social distancing, multiple services should be offered.

— Floors should be marked as a cue for social distancing.

— Post signs about non-contact greetings (no handshakes, hugs, etc.)

— Deep clean the entire building.

— Increase cleaning and disinfection after each service.

— Do not hand out bulletins or flyers.

— Limit bathroom use.

— Do not provide nursery, childcare or Sunday school at this time.

— Provide hand sanitizer throughout the building.

— Attendees, staff and volunteers should stay home if they have any (even one) of these symptoms: coughing, sneezing, fever or shortness of breath.

The state of Georgia recommends churches follow all of the guidelines, not some or even most of them.

While we know all these steps are not convenient and that some people may object, we think all of these things are warranted, reasonable and urge every place of worship in our community to follow the recommendations.

To those of you who don’t want to be told to wear a mask or socially distance, please remember it is not about you, it is about others, your brothers and sisters, the most vulnerable among us and the community as a whole. After all, isn’t putting others first one of the most basic tenets of faith?

Previously, most churches in our community either offered online services or drive-in services.

It was the responsible and right thing to do and church leaders were highly commended for helping keep members safe and healthy.

COVID-19 has surged since that time and the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths is much, much higher than it was during that time.

We hope sharing this information is helpful for local churches that have resumed in-person services.

Online: https://www.valdostadailytimes.com