ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Georgia) greeted Georgians waiting to get the COVID-19 vaccine at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on March 29, 2021. During an onsite press conference, he discussed the federal COVID Relief Bill, also known as ‘America’s Rescue Plan,’ urging everyone to get vaccinated. “It is safe and it’s necessary to continue this fight against COVID-19,” he said.
Ossoff joined local and federal officials, announcing the mass vaccination site at the stadium is open to all counties and provides free MARTA access and parking. Staff members will administer the Pfizer vaccine for six weeks and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for the remaining two weeks. “We have 15 total days we’re gonna be here in nighttime operations. We’re trying to remove barriers,” said Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency Director Matthew Kallmyer, indicating there will be a night shift for those who can’t get vaccinated during business hours. They recommended logging into the Fulton County website for more information.READ MORE: Brookhaven's Call To Action: Officials Seeking Public Input On City Centre Master Plan
Officials also addressed concerns about the increasing number of COVID variants. “Thus far, the vaccines remain highly effective against the identified variants in circulation in the United States,” Ossoff said, indicating the CDC and other agencies are monitoring how the vaccines impact the variants. “When we reduce the amount of replication of this virus in the community, we reduce the number of variants that emerge.”
The topic shifted to HB 202, Georgia’s recently-passed voting legislation that adds more ID requirements for mail-in-votes, limits the number of drop boxes and allows state officials to takeover local elections. Republican lawmakers say it’s streamlining the elections process, but Democrats say it’s a thinly-veiled attempt to suppress votes. “There is a legislative effort in Congress to pass federal voting rights protections that will ensure that every single Georgia voter, every single American voter, can access the ballot,” said Ossoff.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Is Another Relief Payment Coming Soon?
In addition, the legislation makes it illegal to give drinks to people who are waiting in voting lines. “I think that, when you have a state legislature passing a law that makes it a crime to offer someone water when they’re standing in line to vote, that makes an extraordinarily powerful case for federal voting rights protections,” Ossoff said.
He also commented on state police arresting State Representative Park Cannon for knocking on Governor Brian Kemp’s door as he signed the bill behind closed doors. “This is an effort by politicians to use force of law to disenfranchise people and win elections,” he said. Cannon returned to the Capitol on Monday, surrounded by supporters including Martin Luther King III and her attorney, Gerald Griggs.MORE NEWS: Child Tax Credit: October Payments Hitting Parents' Bank Accounts
Several voter rights groups have filed a lawsuit challenging the new law. They’re also hoping the proposed federal bills, HR 1 and 4, will prevail.