Mayor of Cumming replaces social distance order after ‘emotional snap judgement'

The confusion upset many in the community.

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The mayor of Cumming, Georgia said he is reordering a stay-at-home directive hours after he dramatically announced he was rescinding the order on Facebook.

Around 2 a.m. Wednesday, Mayor Troy Brumbalow posted on the City of Cumming’s Facebook page that he was rescinding a social distancing order that was supposed to go into effect on on April 1. In that post he cited blowback from residents as reason to cancel the order.

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“Under the city charter, the mayor can appoint special policemen during times of emergency. I said in our press release that I would swear in up to 150 policemen. I was looking at a worst case scenario caused by the pandemic as our police department has 18 officers. I can see that I didn’t communicate our thoughts and intentions clearly enough. People reacted strongly on social media thinking we were becoming a police state. That was never the intent. While I didn’t write the press release, I approved it and take full responsibility,” Brumbalow wrote.

He also said it was “obvious that a large portion of our public doesn’t want government mandating the recommendations of public health officials.”

But in a new Facebook post this afternoon, Brumbalow said he has signed a new emergency order to replace the first one.

“There are no special policemen. There is no fine. In short, it says “keep 6′ from everybody else” and our uniformed officers will be reminding people of that,” Brumbalow wrote.

Brumbalow explained that his grandfather, who he had been caring for for months, had died this week and he had “an emotional snap judgement.”

“I’m grieving and crying over a man that I loved dearly and have to bury today. I say all of this not out of pity but as an explanation. I’m human and not perfect by any stretch,” Brumbalow wrote.

Health officials are encouraging people to practice social distancing, which means deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Staying at least six feet away from other people lessens your chances of catching COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins.

Channel 2′s Tom Regan talked to some residents who said that a week ago, it seemed like people were not worried about the outbreak.

“People are not social distancing,” Jackie Biggs said. “When I was out last week, there were tons of people in parks close together.”

On Tuesday, Pres. Trump and top health officials said death figures from coronavirus could range from 100,000 and 200,000, even if Americans do their best to avoid social interactions.

Regan also talked to City Administrator Phil Higgins about the revised order.

“Someone has got to take the lead at some point if people are not going to follow the guidelines,” Higgins said. “He totally had the right intentions here to do what he could to help out this community to promote social distancing that we heard from the governor and the president.”

Biggs said the revised order make more sense and is less threatening.

“I think people were a little taken aback by the special police and the $1,000 fine, which made it a little over-the-top,” Biggs said.

I want to clarify the past 24 hours. First by explaining my mindset. Over the past several weeks I have been caring for...

Posted by City of Cumming, GA - City Hall on Wednesday, April 1, 2020