New York Gov. Cuomo, Mayor Van Johnson announce partnership to fight COVID-19 spread in Savannah

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited Savannah on Monday to discuss a new partnership between the city and the state of New York in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cuomo and Mayor Van Johnson held a press conference, where they gave more details on the partnership. Cuomo said there are three major components: PPE, testing, and contact tracing.

The state of New York donated thousands of PPE to the City of Savannah to help healthcare workers fight the coronavirus, including:

  • 124,000 face masks
  • 7,500 testing kits
  • 7,500 gowns
  • 7,500 N-95 masks
  • 1,200 gallons of hand sanitizer
  • 2.5 pallets of styrofoam coolers
  • 7,500 face shields

New York is also working with Savannah to set up two new testing sites. Cuomo stressed the importance of testing in low-income communities and said New York is offering Savannah a testing site template for the new facilities.

The new testing sites will be at Temple of Glory Community Church and at Kingdom Life Christian Fellowship Church.

Cuomo said New York can help enhance contact tracing in Savannah. He said the state has developed a training program for local health workers to get a contact tracing program up and running as soon as possible.

This is New York’s way of giving back for all the help that the state received earlier this year, Cuomo said earlier Monday morning in a press conference. He said he hopes to also help out in Atlanta, Florida and Houston in some way.

“When New York State fought what was, at the time, the nation’s worst COVID-19 spike, states throughout the country generously provided badly-needed supplies, resources and personnel, and we promised that as the virus continued to spread, we’d return the favor,” Cuomo said.

More from the mayor:

Cuomo will also continue giving Johnson advice based on New York’s struggles as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Chatham County. He said he supports Johnson’s mandatory mask order that was shot down by Governor Brian Kemp last week.

New York was the first state to pass a mandatory mask executive order, and Cuomo said it’s the smartest thing he did during the entire pandemic. He said he doesn’t understand why some are so opposed to wearing a face covering, and doesn’t know why it has become a political statement.

“How can you have a political difference on a virus?” Cuomo said, adding that he believes the United States is divided and in a state of denial.

Cuomo said that he believes when a person dies due to being exposed by someone not wearing a mask, they die due to arrogance.

When asked by WSAV if it is difficult to enforce a mask mandate, Cuomo said it is just like enforcing something like non-smoking areas or open container laws. He said it is not difficult because the greatest enforcement comes from the people.

He noted that the most difficult group to get to comply with the mask order seems to be young people, especially when they are drinking or partying.

Cuomo and Johnson also discussed the economy and tourism, as both New York City and Savannah are popular tourist destinations.

Cuomo said opening the economy is a must, calling the current economic state “unsustainable.” However, he said it must be done while following the science and data, something Johnson has also stressed.

Johnson said tourism in Savannah never really stopped, so now we must focus on slowing down the continuing surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. He said Savannah needs to focus on its people, not on the profit.

Cuomo said it has been “an honor” to watch Johnson lead amid the coronavirus pandemic and presented him with a customized box as a symbol of unity and solidarity.

Johnson and the City of Savannah gifted Cuomo with a custom Panhandle Slim painting and a key to the city.

Full press conference with Cuomo, Johnson:

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