Mayor Bottoms in no rush to reopen city hall, addresses funding allocation and street racing in weekly update

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she won’t be rushed into reopening city hall “just because everyone else is opening” during her weekly COVID-19 briefing with the Atlanta City Council this morning.

“I will do what is in the best interest of the public and those who work at city hall,” Bottoms said. “I am mindful of those employees with underlying health issues or who live with someone who does.”

She said the city hall staff has been successful in transitioning to working remotely, and discussions are ongoing about getting city boards and commissions back to regular virtual meetings.

It’s been two months since Bottoms closed city hall and issued a stay-at-home order, which has now been mostly superseded by Gov. Brian Kemp’s orders that the state begin reopening businesses and restaurants.

Bottoms said the number of COVID-19 cases was still increasing. As of May 13, the part of Atlanta within Fulton County had 1,677 COVID-19 diagnoses, up from 1,510 on May 8.

Just after the mayor’s update, the Georgia Department of Health released new statistics showing the number of new statewide cases is now at 35,858 and the death toll at1,527. There have been 16 more deaths statewide in the last 24 hours.

“I remain concerned that pulling back from our aggressive action to shelter-in-place and keep businesses closed will send us in the wrong direction,” Bottoms said.

Bottoms said her advisory committee on reopening the city had its final meeting on May 13 and recommendations would be forthcoming.

In other COVID-19 related updates, Bottoms said the city had received $88.4 million from the federal CARES Act, while Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport had received a separate $338 million grant. Bottoms said residents, businesses, nonprofits and public organizations would be prioritized in the allocating of funds. She said one consideration is helping residents struggling to pay rent. She encouraged residents to visit ATLSTRONG.org if they need financial assistance.

Bottoms noted that overall crime in the city is down 26 percent, but the complaints and concerns about street racing continue. She said in her conversation with other mayors, this phenomenon is happening around the country and some are considering designating a space for street racing. She encouraged residents to call 911 and said the Atlanta Police Department was taking steps to insure the streets are safe.

Bottoms said usage of the Atlanta BeltLine had decreased 6 percent last week, which comes after a three week increase. The mayor said she also intends to reissue an executive order that allows restaurants to sell alcohol to go on May 18.

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