Georgia’s Cities Urged to Declare Public Health Emergencies
Wednesday, March 25th, 2020
The Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) is urging municipal leaders in all of Georgia’s 538 cities to declare public health emergencies with guidance from the model ordinance created by the association. These public health emergencies will slow the rise of novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Georgia and establish a uniform measure aimed at controlling the spread of the disease.
“Swift action by local governments in the state is needed to prevent Georgia from going past the point of no return,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, Executive Associate Dean for Emory at Grady Health system. “If left unchecked, the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to a crippling of Georgia’s healthcare system, and thus immediate measures are needed at the local level to stem the spread of the virus before the healthcare system is overwhelmed.”
Dr. del Rio, who is also a distinguished professor of medicine and global health at Emory University School of Medicine and the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, shared this message and in depth COVID-19 insight during a virtual presentation with Georgia’s mayors, city managers, county commission chairs and county managers held Monday morning.
“Both cities and counties have inherent police powers to take emergency actions in the state of Georgia. Additionally, the United States Supreme Court has held that a local government utilizing its police powers in a reasonable manner ‘to prevent the spread of contagious diseases’ does not violate the Constitution,” said GMA Executive Director Larry Hanson, while referencing the model ordinance GMA drafted for cities to use.
“Local leaders recognize that the potential harm to our state’s economy, our healthcare workers and first responders, and to our most vulnerable is far greater if stringent measures aren’t put in place across the state to slow the spread of this virus,” said GMA President and Dublin Mayor Phil Best. “Using guidance from GMA on how to conduct an emergency teleconference meeting, I urge you to adopt the model ordinance to save lives.”