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Pastors, business owners, and local leaders in a small Georgia city have joined forces to keep the city closed even as the state reopens

Pastors, business owners, and local leaders in a small Georgia city have joined forces to keep the city closed even as the state reopens
Patrons walk around Arbor Place Mall on May 04, 2020 in Douglasville, Georgia. Arbor Place reopened for business on May 1.
Businesses in a small city in Georgia remain closed and people continue to stay at home even after Gov. Brian Kemp rescinded the state's stay-at-home order for most residents and allowed some non-essential businesses to reopen statewide.
According to USA Today, local leaders, business owners, and religious leaders in Albany, Georgia have banded together to keep businesses closed even as the state relaxes its stay-at-home order. 
The city, which has a population of just about 75,000 people, is located in Dougherty County, which the report noted has experienced one of the state's worst outbreaks of COVID-19. According to the official state totals as of May 5, at least 126 people in the county have died from COVID-19 and 1,547 cases have been confirmed.
"We are not going to listen to the federal and state people," Glenn Singfield Sr., who owns two restaurants in the city, told USA Today. "We are going to listen to our local health community because that's where our trust is."
At the end of last month, the Albany City Commission signed a resolution that encouraged citizens to continue to follow the state's expired shelter in place order.
According to the report, Singfield about a dozen other restaurant owners in the city met and decided they would not attempt to re-open their businesses until local experts agreed it was safe, and not before the city saw a two-week decline in the number of new COVID-19 infections.
A consortium of more than two-dozen church pastors in the city released a joint statement that said none of them would be resuming in-person church services, even though they're now permitted statewide under Kemp's direction, according to the report.
Dougherty County has reported about 1721 cases per 100,000 people. There have only been more deaths — three more — in Fulton County, which has a population of more than 1 million.
More than 73% of Albany residents are black, and approximately 32% of them live below the poverty level, according to the Census Bureau. Those demographic factors, combined with high rates of pre-existing health conditions like cancer, obesity, and high blood pressure, according to USA Today, are associated with the most severe outcomes of the novel coronavirus.
Data has shown that African American communities across the US have been disproportionately impacted by the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month found that 83% of people hospitalized in Georgia who had COVID-19 were African American.
"We were a perfect storm for this to happen in," state Rep. Winfred Dukes told USA Today.
Most states around the nation this week began to rollback stay-at-home orders that required businesses to close, even as deaths continue to rise. On May 1, the same day it rescinded its stay-at-home order, Georgia reported 1,000 new cases of the virus statewide.
As states to varying degrees end stay-at-home mandates, a poll published on April 5 by the Washington Post and the University of Maryland found Americans still overwhelmingly oppose most businesses returning to normal operations.
On Monday, the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which has been cited by the White House, increased its estimate for the number of Americans expected to die of COVID-19 through the summer. It now projects 134,000 people will die as a result of the virus — an increase it attributes to the premature relaxation of social distancing protocols.

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