‘Deja vu’: Savannah mayor weighs restrictions amid record COVID hospitalizations


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – “Have we not figured out this is real?” a masked Savannah Mayor Van Johnson asked Tuesday.

COVID-19 statistics are again spiking in Chatham County, with a record number of patients hospitalized with the virus across the county’s three hospitals.

Monday, the Coastal Health District (CHD) reported 196 COVID-19 hospitalizations across Chatham County’s three hospitals.

The previous high was 170 earlier this year on Jan. 7.

Chatham County COVID-19 hospitalizations (Coastal Health District)

“Our COVID-19 numbers are trending in the wrong direction, and simply put, until most of us or more of us are vaccinated, we’re going to have to continue to wear a mask, wash hands and socially distance when we’re around people who are not in our household,” the mayor said in his weekly media update.

“I’m certainly very concerned for our health care professionals who are now being overburdened again by people who put their lives in danger,” he added.

Four hospital leaders in the CHD gathered Monday to paint a picture of the current COVID-19 fight. Between the spread of the delta variant, relaxed public health measures and low vaccination rates, they said this is perhaps the most challenging period of the pandemic yet.

Hear more from the mayor:

“This is literally a plea from your health care providers to get vaccinated,” CHD Director Dr. Lawton Davis said.

Johnson has reinstituted a mask mandate for city buildings, schools and tours but has held off on some of the stricter restrictions he’s issued in the past.

Though as he’s said before, nothing is off the table. Capacity limits on events could return.

As for his own employees, the mayor said he’s concerned, as vaccination rates seem to be about 50/50.

“Most of our employees are probably not vaccinated,” Johnson said, adding that he has no plans at this time to require vaccinations.

But the mayor did echo the message hospital leaders amplified Monday: get vaccinated.

“It’s like deja vu all over again,” Johnson said. “People are saying they want to be out of this, they want to move on, but yet they don’t want to do the things that’s going to help us move on.”

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