Trump says he 'disagrees strongly' with decision to reopen Georgia, says 'it's too soon'
ATLANTA - President Donald Trump said he told Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp his opening of certain businesses was not part of phase one of the federal guidelines to reopen the state.
"I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities which are in violation of the phase one guidelines for the incredible people of Georgia," the president said during his nightly press conference on Wednesday. "But at the same time, he must do what he thinks is right, I want him to do what he thinks is right."
Those phase one plans include such benchmarks as seeing a 14-day decline in new infections as well as 14 days of declining covid-like syndromic cases and influenza-like illnesses, before moving forward on reopening.
The president went on to state that Kemp's move wasn't "totally egregious," and implied that he would take action if any governor took a clearly unreasonable step.
Later at the briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said he would "advise" Kemp not to "leapfrog" the White House's guidelines.
"I would advise him not to just turn the switch on and go," Fauci said. "Because there is a danger of a rebound."
The president was joined by bipartisan concerns the state is reopening too fast. Others voicing their concerns are former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, state coronavirus task force member and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
SEE ALSO: Kemp defended his decision earlier on FOX 5 News at 5 p.m.
"I think this measured path forward is the right step at the right time," Kemp told FOX 5 anchors Tom Haynes and Courtney Bryant during the live interview.
Monday, Kemp said that gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, beauty shops and salons, barbershops, body art studios, and more would be able to open Friday, April 24 as long as social distancing was being followed. The state has started issuing guidelines for those businesses.
"I think one of these things that has gotten out of control on the national level is people think we are throwing the keys back to these businesses and that's it's going to be business as usual and it's not," Kemp said Wednesday.
SEE ALSO: Know how the COVID-19 outbreak is impacting Georgia
The president said he believes those businesses do not belong in phase one of the federal plan and it was just "too soon" for those businesses to open.
"I love 'em but they can wait a little bit longer not much safety has to predominate," the president said.
Gov. Kemp, during his earlier interview on FOX 5 News, did not directly answer questions about what the two leaders discussed, but did praise how President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence has handled the coronavirus pandemic.
The president called Georgian "strong" and "resolute" during his remarks, referring to how the people have handled themselves during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Kemp later responded to the president's comments on Twitter. In three separate tweets, he wrote:
"Earlier today, I discussed Georgia's plan to reopen shuttered businesses for limited operations with @POTUS. I appreciate his bold leadership and insight during these difficult times and the framework provided by the White House to safely move states forward.
"Our next measured step is driven by data and guided by state public health officials. We will continue with this approach to protect the lives - and livelihoods - of all Georgians.
"Just like the thousands of businesses currently operating throughout Georgia, I am confident that business owners who decide to reopen will adhere to Minimum Basic Operations, which prioritize the health and well-being of employees and customers."
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Live map: Tracking coronavirus in Georgia
FOX News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.