Mayor Bottoms Addresses Crime and COVID-19 Crises
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms spoke in a press conference Tuesday morning about how COVID-19 is causing a spike in crime which the city hasn’t seen in decades, including a recent stabbing murder of a woman and her dog in Atlanta's Piedmont Park.
Bottoms emphasized the importance of limiting misinformation around crime and COVID-19.
Rumors circulated online last week that FBI involvement in the Piedmont murder case suggested it involved a serial killer. But Bottoms said there is no evidence to support that claim or claims the murder was a hate crime.
She said addressing dangerous misinformation online takes police time away from investigating.
Reports show the majority of violent crimes in the city are between people who know each other, which is why the recent homicide in Piedmont Park is considered so unique, Bottoms said.
Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said the unusual nature of the murder is why he called upon the FBI to provide additional resources for the investigation.
The Atlanta Police Department began working with the FBI last summer to reduce violent crime with ‘Operation Phoenix’ and they have seen some success, Bryant said.
Bryant said crime rates are increasing in the city, especially around property crime, but overall crime is still down 11% compared to 2019.
“We attribute this to our summer plan which allowed to expand our personnel into more targeted locations where we were seeing historical incidents of crime,” Bryant said. “Additionally, this is done with the partnership of our federal partners, our state praters, and our local partners.”
Atlanta’s Chief Operating Officer Jon Keen confirmed the city plans to update infrastructure with additional security cameras as part of Bottoms' $70 million crime reduction plan proposed in July.
Bottoms said city officials are also keeping a close eye on COVID-19 data as cases continue to rise. Last week, Bottoms signed an executive order mandating masks again to limit transmission during the surge.
“We were at Phase 4, but with the surge in the delta variant, we have gone backwards,” Bottoms said. “We’ve always said we would follow the data. We are very close to going back to Phase 2.”
Dr. Carlos del Rio, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine, said the delta variant is much more contagious than previous variants of the coronavirus.
“The difference in the past variant is that if one person was infected, that person led to about two and-a-half to three people getting infected — and those people, then, two and-a-half and three, and so on and on and on," del Rio said. "With the new variant, it’s about one person infects six to eight people."
that among the 4.1 million people fully vaccinated in the state, about 4,908 have tested positive for COVID-19 — known as breakthrough cases — and only 24 have died. Del Rio said vaccination is still the best way to stop the spread even if you have a breakthrough case.
“Your risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID is about 0.002%," he said of those fully vaccinated. "It’s about the risk you’d have of walking outside and getting hit by lightning. It’s pretty low."
Bottoms said there are no lockdown plans on the horizon but city officials continue to monitor the data and listen to public health officials and community leaders.