ONLY ON 3: Mayor Johnson gets personal about leading Savannah through pandemic

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – For Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, life has become a cycle of weekly press conferences, city council meetings, and visits to local hospitals during the age of the coronavirus pandemic.

“You’re responsible for over 146,000 people,” said Mayor Johnson. “You’re responsible for their lives and for their welfare. That’s an enormous weight to carry, yet I’m blessed to be able to carry it.”

The New York native says it’s also been difficult being so far away from his family in the Empire State while they live in the epicenter of the crisis.

“They obviously understandably are scared. We’ve lost several family friends, some that have been dead for weeks that still have not been buried because there’s just so many bodies there,” said Johnson.

The mayor says the experience in New York has given him perspective on how to better protect Savannah.

“If we don’t get it together, if we don’t practice social distancing then we can be like New York. And I’m just hoping that we would not be that,” said Johnson.

He admits sometimes it gets very difficult and there have been many sleepless nights. 

Still, the mayor says his faith pushes him forward.

“I believe that I’m built for this time,” said Johnson. “I trust that the Lord is going to bring me through it. If he got me here, he’ll get me through it. And that’s all I can do.”

“I go through nights where I can’t sleep”

Johnson tells News 3 how he’s been able to manages the pressures of leading the city through this pandemic and how he manages to stay positive.

“Consider the cost of dying”

With the help of City Council, his staff and the guidance of previous mayors, Johnson says he’s been able to stay positive and optimistic during this trying time.

Still, as Georgia prepares to reopen, Johnson asks people in Savannah to make informed decisions before venturing to public places.

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