Mayor Johnson urges Savannahians to complete census, gives city manager update

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Mayor Van Johnson held his weekly press conference Tuesday morning to give updates on city business and COVID-19.

Johnson began the press conference expressing his condolences on the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and wishing Savannah’s Jewish community a happy new year.

The mayor then discussed the three city manager finalists, who visited Savannah this weekend. Johnson said all three candidates toured the entire city and were interviewed by the city council on Friday.

They also attended a panel discussion, where they answered questions from 85 community members including city employees, neighborhood presidents, business representatives, and more local voices.

“This was a herculean task, it was a very delicate ballet of moving people, processes around in the middle of a socially distanced environment,” said Johnson.

The three finalists, Caluha Barnes, Odie Donald II, and John Pombier, will introduce themselves to Savannahians in pre-recorded videos that are set to be released Tuesday night at 7 p.m. on the City of Savannah’s social media pages.

“This is so important that I want to make sure we get it right,” said Johnson, “because we need somebody’s who’s going to be here and be here for awhile I do not want to subject this organization to anymore issues of instability .”

Watch Johnson’s full Tuesday press conference:

The mayor then switched gears to discuss the local COVID-19 status.

It has now been two weeks since large crowds hit Savannah for Labor Day. Johnson reported that Chatham County’s case rate per 100,000 people and the community transmission index have come down slightly.

“This is good news, but we are not celebrating,” Johnson said.

The mayor thanked everyone for wearing masks, practicing social distancing and washing their hands during the holiday weekend to prevent a spike in local case rates. He also asked that young people, particularly those in the 20-29 age range continue to be safe, as that age group has the highest case rate nationwide.

Johnson then reminded the public that there is only one week and one day left to complete their 2020 Census.

“It is now the fourth quarter,” Johnson said, stressing the important financial impact the Census has on the city.

To complete the Census, visit or call 844-330-2020.

“The census needs to be done,” he said.

Finally, the mayor reminded the community to apply for CARES funding. He said an updated report will be coming next week about recent funding distribution.

“I will tell you, people who did not have help, have been helped,” he said.

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