Mayor Johnson media conference – April 14, 2020
Talking points for: Mayor Van R. Johnson, II
- Good morning. Thank you for joining us on our continuing journey of COVID-19 and our continuing mission to keep Savannah safe in the midst of this horrific viral storm that continues to hover over our nation, our state and our beautiful City.
- As of this moment, we have 154 confirmed cases of and five deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Chatham County - the most in the Coastal Health District.
- We believe there are more deaths out there, so we expect those numbers to rise. At this point, we are still working to and have had some moderate success preventing an outright outbreak that would ultimately overwhelm our current medical capabilities.
- We also understand from the data that more testing brings more positive cases.
- My most recent challenge is to convince the state to release the confirmed data by zip code. This information will provide us with a much better idea of the number of confirmed cases in Savannah and any concentration of these confirmed cases. We can then provide better information and education to people in these areas.
- Governor Kemp’s shelter-in-place order is still in effect, requiring that everyone stays home to lower the risk of Coronavirus for everyone unless going to work, shopping for essential items or exercising at a safe distance from others.
- Last week, I asked Savannahians to wear face coverings when going out of their homes. I have been very pleased to see many people doing this. Many of our citizens have utilized their creative skills, and this creativity is evident in some of the face coverings. Many other citizens have graciously sewn or provided face coverings or masks for those who did not have them.
- In accordance with the Governor’s Order, City staff has been working with other agencies to monitor and enforce compliance with the order. As many of you are aware, the Savannah Police Department is using its drone fleet to enforce social distancing measures with pre-recorded messages. The recording reminds people to stay at least six feet from others.
- Officers will fly the drones in specific areas where there is an issue and in accordance with federal law. Our operators are trained professionals, with FAA pilot licenses. This weekend, our mounted horse unit and foot patrol officers continue to remind our citizens to observe social distancing.
- It is during these difficult times that we see the professionalism and dedication of our City employees. Our city employees are our most valuable asset. We are grateful for their dedication now more than ever, and we are now compensating them for this extraordinary effort during this extraordinary time.
- The City’s leadership and budget team have worked quickly and diligently to ensure we’re maintaining a balanced City budget, financially supporting our people now and avoiding future layoffs or furloughs.
- This is due to the City’s decades-long practice of conservative budgeting and maintaining healthy fund balances and reserves.
- Our City Manager signed an administrative order to implement hazard pay for most City employees from April 12 through May 29.
- Our sanitation department is not currently collecting residential yard waste, but we are working on a plan to pick it up.
- The City has contacted the waste hauler we use to collect hurricane debris to help alleviate some of the yard trash that’s piling up. We are looking at pricing for one or two collections while City pickup is suspended.
- Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Candler Hospital and Memorial Health to personally thank the health care professionals and those professionals that support them for the extraordinary work they are doing to manage during these extraordinary times. From what I have observed, they are prepared and ready to meet the challenges of the days ahead - as long as they are not overwhelmed by a deluge of positive cases.
- Last week, I also visited Hunter Army Airfield to view their mobile testing operation. They are testing their active-duty soldiers, dependents and retirees. They have taken extraordinary measures to protect our soldiers and their families, many of which are in active deployment.
- These are our modern-day heroes: the health care professional, the soldier, the truck or bus driver, the bus driver, the police officer, the fire fighter, the sanitation worker, the City employee, the child care provider, members of the media, and we continue to thank them.
- The more we stay apart now, the sooner we will be back together.
- City Council will soon resume it’s regular work by holding workshops via Zoom.
- We will continue to keep the faith, but we will continue to follow the science.
- May God bless you and may continue to bless Savannah.