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‘This is the notice’: Mayor Johnson not ruling out new mask mandate as COVID-19 cases rise in Chatham Co.

Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 4:36 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said Friday COVID-19 case numbers in Savannah are trending in the wrong direction.

Now the question becomes, will the mask mandate be reinstated?

Mayor Van Johnson said the numbers are disturbing to see and while he is disappointed, he’s not surprised.

He says reinstating some guidance, like a mask mandate, is a possibility. When WTOC asked what kind of notice he would give, this is what he had to say.

“This is the notice. I mean, I think I was very clear when we lifted the mask mandate that if the numbers kept on a downward trend we would release those, but at the point at which they started getting back in the dangerous range which we are now that some of these restrictions would come back,” said Mayor Johnson.

The mayor says conversations with medical professionals are happening as he seeks their guidance. In the last two weeks our Community Transmission Index more than doubled and in just the last 24 hours it’s gone up 10 percent. For Mayor Johnson, seeing us above this benchmark might mean masking and capacity limits, but it’s not a popular decision.

“We don’t get into this job to do what’s popular. We get into this job to do what’s right. And so for us, the reason why our city has been able to recover so quickly is because we did what was right and not what was popular and we reaped the benefits of that.”

As for the county, Commission Chairman Chester Ellis says they don’t have plans to change anything now.

“We’re not going back to unless it comes from the medical profession and it comes from the scientists we’re not going back to the mask regulations now,” said Chairman Chester Ellis, Chatham County Commission.

But one thing both leaders agree on is the importance of vaccinations right now. With Chatham County sitting at 41 percent fully vaccinated, they want to see more get their shot.

“We’re just hoping that we can push folks to get vaccinated so that all of us can not go back to wearing masks because it irritates some people and then you know about others, but we do stress the fact that you need to protect yourself,” said Ellis.

Mayor Johnson echoed that sentiment and says we need to change our ways.

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