SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Mayor Van Johnson held his weekly COVID-19 press conference Tuesday morning to provide an update on local response to the coronavirus.
Johnson opened the press conference by sending his condolences to the families of three prominent Savannahians: Savannah Fire Department Captain Matthew Kelly, who died Monday after a battle with pancreatic cancer, long-time Savannah sanitation employee Avalon Jenkins, and Phyllis Wilder Lewis, the sister of District 3 Alderman Linda Wilder-Bryant.
The mayor then addressed how Savannah is looking since Governor Brian Kemp’s shelter-at-home order was lifted for most Georgians. Johnson said this weekend, he saw lots of people out and about, including visitors from out of town.
“The weekend in many ways looked like a normal Savannah weekend,” Johnson said.
Johnson again asked the community to continue to practice social distancing if they go out, and to only go out if absolutely necessary. He encouraged Savannahians to wear a face mask in places where social distancing may be difficult, and praised businesses that are requiring a face mask upon entry.
“Remember we are under a public health emergency that expires June 12,” Johnson said.
The mayor then took a moment to remind people of a few things required under Kemp’s current order. They are listed below.
- Many people must continue to shelter in place through June 12. Those Georgians are:
- People 65 years of age or older
- People living in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- People with chronic lung disease
- People with moderate to severe asthma
- People with severe heart disease
- People who are immunocompromised
- People with Class III or severe obesity
- People with diabetes, liver disease, or chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
- Gatherings of ten or more people are still not allowed unless there is at least six feet between each person
- Bars nightclubs, amusement parks, live performance venues and public pools will remain closed through May 13
Johnson said that he has heard of businesses not yet permitted to open trying to open early, and made it clear that the City of Savannah will not tolerate that.
“You will be warned, and you will be shut down,” Johnson said.
Watch Tuesday’s full press conference:
The mayor said that waste management is working to pick up yard waste and asked that Savannahians be patient.
“You have not been forgotten, there’s just a whole lot of trash out there,” the mayor said.
The mayor also said that CAT will continue to run at a reduced schedule at 50% capacity for essential trips only.
The statewide judicial emergency has recently been extended through June 12, something Johnson said will have an impact on our local judicial system. He did not go into details.
Johnson also introduced a new initiative called Resilient Savannah that focuses on the “after this” of COVID-19 in Savannah. The initiative includes a document that lists the City’s efforts to fight the coronavirus since March 2.
As part of Resilient Savannah, the City is also releasing a Resilient Savannah Resource Guide to help citizens directly find helpful resources during the pandemic. It will be on the City’s website soon.
Johnson said that within the coming days, a detailed plan of “where we go from here” will be released. He said it will be based on science and what is best for Savannahians.
The mayor also recognized Teacher Appreciation Week and National Nurses Week and thanked local teachers and nurses for adjusting and working hard to take care of students and patients.
“We appreciate all that you do,” Johnson said, adding that many members of his family are teachers and nurses.
Johnson also encouraged citizens to fill out their absentee ballots and their census forms. He said that last week, Savannah hit the 50% mark of census completion.
“It only takes a few minutes, but the results last ten years,” Johnson said.
The mayor then invited Savannahians to participate in the National Day of Prayer with him on Thursday.
“If we ever needed to be united in prayer, now is the absolute time,” Johnson said.
He ended the press conference with a shout out to all the mothers in our community celebrating Mother’s Day on Sunday and reminded the community that hurricane season is approaching in just 27 days.
Johnson again urged Savannahians to remember that nothing is “normal” and the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over.
“We still need you to protect yourself, protect your family, and protect those you love,” the mayor said.