City of Tucker slammed for saying it is not bound by DeKalb’s shelter-in-place order
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Tucker, GA – The city of Tucker has ignited an online flaming after it announced that DeKalb County’s shelter-in-place order meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 doesn’t apply to its residents.
In a March 28 email, the city said, “Tonight at 9 o’clock, much of DeKalb County goes under a ‘shelter-in-place’ order. This order does NOT apply to those in the City of Tucker. City leadership is working on new policies and procedures to be announced in the coming days. For now, please continue to practice social distancing and stay home, if at all possible.”
Tucker has provided mixed signals in response to the pandemic.
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The city imposed a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. but has allowed restaurants to remain open when many cities have ordered them to close their dining rooms. Mayor Frank Auman said police have the power to disperse large groups in the city. Tucker uses DeKalb County Police services.
The move was widely panned online. It’s also the latest example of the different approaches cities are taking in their responses to COVID-19 in the absence of a statewide shelter-in-place order. Locally, Atlanta, Avondale Estates and Decatur have implemented some version of a stay-at-home order.
Emory University epidemiologist Carlos del Rio on Monday told reporters that if one city orders residents to stay at home and another does not, it limits the effectiveness of those orders.
“I applaud the mayor of Atlanta for ordering a shelter at home, but if surrounding cities and counties don’t do the same, it doesn’t benefit,” he said.
He said the state has done some good things in its response, though he wished it had been done earlier.
Following its initial email and post to residents about DeKalb County’s shelter-in-place order, the city of Tucker updated its statement in a Facebook post.
“The purpose of this communication is not to encourage derision, but to let Tucker residents and those who work in Tucker know that the DeKalb County shelter-in-place order does not apply in the city,” the message said. “That information can have a very real impact on the livelihood of many and many had asked the question, so it was important to point out. Know that the Mayor and City Council have worked out a new, very targeted, very specific set of guidelines (rules) for getting through this outbreak. The City Attorney is working on the language of the updated ordinance and it will take effect this week.”
Commenters were mostly unimpressed.
“A curfew is not enough! Your update is smug, pretentious and flies in the face of recommendations from health officials,” one commenter said. “Every last one of you needs to be voted out of office. Businesses are not more important than people’s lives.”
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Another commenter said, “We need to be uniform across the County. This is creating confusion and making an already stressful situation more stressful. This is NOT the time to beat on our chest just to prove we are independent of the county.”
Matthew Lee, the executive director of the Tucker-Northlake Community Improvement District, defended the city.
“The CEO of DeKalb County does not have the authority to issue an order that is binding on any city,” Lee said. “The order he released late on Friday acknowledged this and ‘reaffirms, recognizes, and reinforces the various orders and resolutions’ that cities in DeKalb have enacted. He then invited all cities within DeKalb County to adopt the same plan. Due to news media not understanding the document, and many in the general public not understanding the order, the natural conclusion was that Tucker is in DeKalb so it’s covered.”
He was one of the few voices sticking up for city leaders.
Mayor Frank Auman chimed in to stick up for himself.
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“Y’all, seriously,” Auman said. “This post might should have been better worded, but the city of Tucker is not without a response to the coronavirus, and our response is not ‘everyone do your own thing.’ We have had emergency orders in place long before DeKalb issued its first one. We have amended it twice, and will do so again tomorrow. It is and will remain smarter, more focused and more effective at fighting the combined threats of the virus and economic calamity than most of what’s been done around us. ”
It didn’t do much to tamp down the criticism.
“Not the voice of leadership that we need right now,” a commenter said, responding to Auman. “Tell us what you plan to do and figure out the legal wording later. Think your posts through like lives depend on it. They do. We are taking this seriously. That is why we are reading your posts and responding to them.”
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