Stacey Abrams says there’s “no legitimate reason” for Georgia governor to lift virus restrictions

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In this Nov. 15, 2019, photo, former Georgia House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams, speaks at the National Press Club in Washington. Growth and urbanization has made Georgia’s population younger, less native to the state and less white. That, combined with President Donald Trump’s struggles among previously GOP-leaning white college graduates, has put Georgia on the cusp of presidential battleground status. The question is how close. (AP Photo/Michael A. McCoy)

Former Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams called it “deeply problematic” that the state’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp would be lifting coronavirus lockdowns on some businesses as early as Friday. She joined “CBS This Morning” Tuesday to announce “Project 100,” an initiative aimed at helping low-income families who are struggling through the pandemic.

“There’s no legitimate reason for reopening the state except for politics, and I think it’s deeply disingenuous he would pretend otherwise,” she said of the governor’s decision.

Kemp announced that businesses such as hair salons and fitness centers could begin to reopen Friday, while some dine-in restaurants and movie theaters may open the following week. 

Georgia currently has over 19,000 confirmed cases of the virus. Abrams pointed to the high number of infections and slow testing rates as a reason the move would be problematic.

“We’re not ready to return to normal,” Abrams said. “We have people who are the most vulnerable and the least resilient being put on the front lines, contracting a disease that they cannot get treatment for.”

Abrams said it was particularly concerning that the businesses that would be reopening are “places where low-income workers will be compelled to go back to work in order to keep their jobs.” She claimed the state has a weak health infrastructure that could not handle the possibility of them getting sick.

“We have swaths of Georgia where we have no hospitals, no doctors and no relief,” she said. “And the governor’s refusal to expand Medicaid means we haven’t gotten the new infusions of cash to prepare us for the pandemic.” 

For her part, Abrams said she was working to help the nation’s most vulnerable population by launching Project 100, a joint venture with three organizations that work with low-income Americans: Propel, GiveDirectly and Stand for Children. 

The project aims to give $1,000 to 100,000 households. 

Abrams said that the money would go to recipients of the federal food assistance program SNAP, specifically users of Propel’s Fresh EBT app. The app is “designed to help low-income Americans better manage their SNAP benefits,” and currently has over 2 million users.

“The money is coming from some incredible donors, but also coming from everyday people who are willing to contribute at Project100.us,” she said.

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