Mayor Van Johnson talks decreasing case count and community spread, vaccine hesitancy


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Mayor Van Johnson spoke on decreasing case count, community transmission and called on those fully vaccinated to share their experience with unvaccinated folks.

Chatham County has seen a decrease in both cases and community transmission but Johnson remains anchored in his position on upholding a mask mandate. Johnson said he’d rather act methodically than remove mandates and restrictions quickly.

“We know that spikes and drops ebb and flow and so I think it’s important for us to able to look at historical data when we look at where we are,” Johnson said. He added that it would be more difficult to remove the mask mandate and reinstate it if infections started to rise.

“We’re not wedded to that 100 number,” Johnson said of the community transmission index which details the number of cases per 100,000 residents. Even if the number dips into the 90s a mask mandate might remain, he added.

Latest data shows 23 hospitalizations across Chatham County, as low as it was in June 2020, before the first surge in hospitalizations.

Johnson’s also asked visitors to care about the health and safety of Savannahians during and after they leave.

“Welcome to Savannah, wear a mask in our city, eat, drink, spend a lot of money,” Johnson said. Nearly 15 million people visited Savannah in 2019.

The seven-day rolling average of cases in Chatham County is 16.9, mirroring numbers seen in mid-June 2020.

Johnson also called on those who are fully vaccinated to share their experience with others who are not, to encourage inoculation. He also encouraged those fully vaccinated to continue wearing masks in an attempt to show others the importance of being safe. Johnson added that he will also continue to wear masks to show that Savannah isn’t back to pre-pandemic normals.

Nearly 181,000 doses of vaccines have been administered in Chatham County with 29% of residents fully vaccinated. Nearly a quarter of residents have received at least one dose of vaccine.

He said his father was recently infected despite being fully vaccinated but was asymptomatic. “It works,” Johnson said of the vaccine.

While he said Savannah doesn’t have a corporate partner to incentivize vaccines, it’s something he’d be interested in speaking to retailers about.

Johnson said he hopes the city is in a different state by July 4.

Georgia reported 370 new confirmed cases of the novel virus and 1 new death.

Savannah has three mass vaccination sites, the Gulfstream Campus and the Savannah Civic Center and the Armstrong Center at Georgia Southern University. For local vaccine information click here.

• The Gulfstream campus on 2 Innovation Dr. will close May 21 and is only administering the one dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and second doses of Pfizer.

• The Savannah Civic Center on 301 W Oglethorpe Ave. operates Thursdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

• The Armstrong Center at Georgia Southern University (GSU) on 13040 Abercorn St. operates Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Savannah Civic Center and the Armstrong Center at Georgia Southern University are distributing the Moderna vaccine only. Appointments are required at Georgia Southern University but only encouraged at the other two sites.

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