the coronavirus crisis
President Trump reiterated on Thursday that he is "not happy" about Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's (R) decision to start reopening nonessential businesses like barber shops and nail salons on Friday, saying he doesn't want COVID-19 "to flare up because you're deciding to do something that's not in the guidelines."
Trump told reporters at Wednesday's coronavirus briefing that he'd let Kemp know he "disagreed strongly" with what he was doing because it was "just too soon." He was singing a different tune on Tuesday, people with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times, as Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both let Kemp know during separate phone calls that they supported what he was doing.
These mixed messages are confusing Kemp, the Times reports, especially because he has been a vocal supporter of the president. Trump does have a reason to be irritated with Kemp, officials said: Last year, Kemp did not appoint Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) to a vacant Senate seat. Collins is a staunch Trump supporter who defended him throughout the House impeachment inquiry.
As of Thursday evening, Georgia has more than 21,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state and 872 deaths. Health experts say it's too soon to open businesses, as there isn't nearly enough COVID-19 testing happening, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and other local leaders say they were not consulted on the matter. Trump has pivoted over the last week, saying states need to follow a phased system to reopen businesses while at the same time encouraging protesters to "liberate" Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia — states with Democratic governors and strict social distancing guidelines.