‘We want action now:’ Macon-Bibb Commissioners upset with mayor’s response

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Macon-Bibb mayor Robert Reichert (File Photo)
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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Macon-Bibb commissioners are pushing the mayor for an executive order to close down non-essential businesses to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Commissioners say it’s taking the mayor too long to announce a local state of emergency.

“When people see other municipalities take charge and say they’ve gone through these drastic measures, then people look at Macon Bibb County, as a large community, and ask ‘Why haven’t y’all been the leaders and taken charge?” Mayor Pro Tem Al Tillman said Sunday.

Commissioners say they were under the impression Mayor Robert Reichert was going to announce a local state of emergency during Thursday’s news conference.

“I thought that he was going to put a lot of these precautions that other cities in Georgia have into effect,” Commissioner Larry Schlesinger said Sunday. “That didn’t happen.”

“Commissioners as well as the public at large were very surprised of the optimism that was displayed at that point and concerned,” Commissioner Virgil Watkins said Sunday. “So you’ve seen us scramble using the avenues we can to enforce a state of emergency.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced guidelines to minimize the spreading of COVID-19, including not being in crowds larger than ten people. Governor Brian Kemp has left it to local municipalities to close down businesses and other entities.

“This weekend alone, there were live bars downtown, there were people at the mall, there were people out and about,” commission candidate Seth Clark said Sunday. “That is the main cause of exponential growth of this virus.”

Clark says he’s is upset about how long it’s taking the county to act.

“Waiting a week after the CDC guidelines was an abject failure of this commission and this mayor and our county government,” Clark added.

Watkins says Reichert’s optimism contradicts what the CDC says.

“We are all not that optimistic,” he said. “We are very concerned about the health and livelihood of our community and we want action now.”

The mayor will hold a news conference Monday at 11 a.m. to announce the closure of certain businesses.