Vice President Mike Pence on Friday praised Georgia’s decision to quickly reopen businesses during the coronavirus outbreak during a visit to the state that included lunch with the governor at an Atlanta café that had resumed dine-in service.
“We just went out to lunch and had a great meal, and we were able to do that because of what the people of Georgia have done,” Pence said at a discussion later in the day with restaurant owners and Gov. Brian Kemp.
He said Georgia was “leading the way” in reopening and called Kemp’s leadership “clear and courageous and principled.”
Kemp returned Pence's praise Friday, thanking him and Trump for the “level of communication” they've had with governors about the virus. Kemp walked into the meeting with restaurant owners without a mask, and many people in the crowd were not wearing them. The meeting was held at the headquarters of Waffle House.
Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer said Kemp had the “courage” to lead the state out of the lockdown.
Georgia has had more than 41,480 confirmed cases of the virus, which has claimed more than 1,800 lives in the state, according to the state Department of Public Health. Bartow County has reported 427 cases, 133 hospitalizations and 36 deaths.
Ehmer said Waffle House has rehired 2,000 workers, and its revenues have substantially recovered since resuming dine-in service.
“We appreciate the opportunity to begin to find a path forward,” he said.