Savannah mayor says additional COVID restrictions are ‘imminent’

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Mayor Van Johnson says more COVID-19 restrictions are “imminent” as the situation continues to worsen. Chatham County is reporting record highs in hospitalizations, daily cases and community transmission.

“We are worse now than we when we were closed,” Johnson said Tuesday.

The mayor said he will meet with his public health team this week to reassess the current COVID-19 situation.

The county is reporting 235 new daily cases, 224 current hospitalizations and a community transmission index of 998 — which counts new infections per 100,000 residents, according to the Coastal Health District.

Provided by the Coastal Health District.

Chatham County’s population is 43% vaccinated, and nearly half of residents have received at least one dose, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Johnson said he’s been told over 90% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

“COVID is growing out of control in our city and if things don’t change quickly, increased measures will be necessary to protect public health, safety and welfare,” Johnson said. He said he’s noticed mostly maskless people packed indoors at businesses.

Johnson said non-compliance to the city’s mask advisory within private businesses has led to the worsening of the COVID-19 situation. He said the city and its health advisory are reacting to inaction among residents.

Provided by the Coastal Health District.

Some restrictions include altering the mask mandate, canceling public events, limiting public space for community events and revoking permits.

Johnson said reinstating the mask mandate was meant to be a precautionary measure and encouraged more people to get vaccinated.

“We tried to do what we could with minimal disruption, but it appears not to be working. So additional action may be necessary and probably soon to come,” Johnson said. He said if his health team advises an aggressive approach to restrictions and mandates, then he will follow their lead.

Johnson said he hopes to get out to nightclubs and further the vaccine outreach program but said people have to be willing to help fight against the virus.

The mayor added more than half of city employees are unvaccinated and said a vaccine requirement for city employees is “on the table.”

“Some are in situations where they can’t avoid not coming in close contact or close proximity to people,” he said. “We care about them. We have a number of employees that have COVID that are out because of COVID.”

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Provided by the Coastal Health District.

“Savannah loses, we lose, but that’s the choice we made when we chose not to be vaccinated,” Johnson said.

“That’s the choice we made when we decided not to wear masks then we have to intervene, although we don’t want to, to be able to take measures to lessen our exposure to be able to decrease our spread by keeping people apart.”

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