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The original item was published from 3/24/2020 1:23:39 PM to 3/25/2020 10:21:14 AM.

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City of Savannah Marketing and Communications

Posted on: March 24, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Talking Points for Mayor Johnson media conference – March 24, 2020


Mayor Johnson media conference – March 24, 2020


Talking points for: Mayor Van R. Johnson, II


  • Good morning.  Today’s media availability is entirely devoted to the City’s response to COVID-19.
  • Last evening, Gov. Brian Kemp announced a series of statewide measures to try to curb the spread of coronavirus, instituting a ban on most gatherings of more than 10 people and ordering that “medically fragile” individuals shelter in place for two weeks.
  • Our local emergency order has been in place since Saturday morning, and we are grateful to those citizens, businesses and members of the faith community who have complied by modifying their lives and processes in order to keep themselves, their customers and their parishioners safe.
  • We have been careful and deliberate in our actions, not reacting to apathy or paranoia, making decisions based upon the best information available from medical experts, to include the Coastal Health District, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our local medical community.
  • We have tried to balance the safety of our community with the need to maintain a local economy that is able to meet the varied needs of our citizens.
  • Our early estimates indicate that the City of Savannah is experiencing financial losses of approximately $150,000 a day – almost $4.5 million a month, as this crisis persists.
  • It is clear to me, as confirmed by the subject matter experts, that things will get worse before they get better and in Savannah, GA and for Savannah, GA, that risk is too much bear.
  • Therefore, it is now necessary and prudent to enhance and escalate our action plan to minimize the exposure of Savannahians to this virus which has proven deadly around the world.  

  • I submit to you that it’s time to show the same love, but from a greater distance and to put the good of the whole community over personal agendas.
  • I am convinced that we can beat this, but it can only be done together – by remaining apart.
  • I know that none of this is easy, it is disruptive, it is inconvenient, it is restrictive, it is limiting.
  • But for better or worse, this is our reality.
  • For the next couple of weeks, the only way we can stem the threat of COVID-19 is to each remain home as much as possible.
  • If you have to go to the grocery store or get some exercise, you can certainly do so, but it is imperative that you maintain as much distance as possible from others.
  • The City has restricted access to most of our facilities in order to protect our employees and the community.
  • However, we remain operational and committed to delivering the services you count on and pay for each day.
  • Beginning this week, a good portion of our workforce will fulfill their duties from home.
  • We are practicing what we’re preaching.
  • While Gov. Kemp’s executive action announced yesterday addressed some critical needs in our state, I do not feel that it goes far enough in ensuring the health and safety of our citizens.
  • Because of this, I will be sending Governor Kemp a letter today requesting greater State oversight and consistency in rules across the state and actions that address the operation of businesses that may be located in the City but are not regulated by the City.
  • In addition, the Council and I remain concerned about legal actions like evictions which will further exacerbate the issues that so many families currently face and will face in the uncertain days ahead.  
  • In addition to the emergency declaration of March 21, 2020, I am announcing additional measures that are needed in our City to protect all of you.
  • These measures include a shelter at home order for all residents with exemptions for essential activities, government functions and essential businesses as defined by my order.
  • In other words and to put it succinctly and clearly, if you are not working or shopping for groceries, STAY HOME.
  • Businesses not defined as essential must cease all activities as of the effective date of this order.
  • Public and private gatherings outside a single household are prohibited except for the limited purposes outlined in the order.
  • Travel, except essential travel and essential activities, is prohibited.
  • The categories of essential businesses, essential travel and essential activities are listed in the documents you’ve been provided.
  • The City of Savannah, its officers and agents are fully prepared and authorized to enforce this amended emergency declaration.
  • Please don’t become the example of this enforcement.
  • I don’t take these actions lightly. I take them to protect our community.
  • Please heed the concerns of your City Council, your City staff and our public health officials who want nothing more than to protect you and those you love.
  • Remember that the only way we will get through this – is if we get though it together.
  • I am reminded of God’s assurance as reported by the prophet Isaiah, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
  • May God bless you, and may God continue to bless Savannah.


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