Mask mandate reinstated in Savannah as COVID-19 cases rise again

Bridge over Savannah city waterfront at night, Georgia, United States

Photo: Getty Images

ByWTOC Staff

Published:Jul. 26, 2021 at 9:13 AM EDT

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - At a news conference on Monday, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson announced that he is reinstating a mask mandate in the city.

The mandate is effective immediately, according to the mayor. The mayor said he’s being advised there are likely several factors behind the rising numbers of COVID cases: the prevalence of the Delta variant, a low vaccination rate locally, large gatherings and people letting their guard down.

The mayor said based on Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicators and threshold, the community transmission in Savannah and the Chatham County area is considered high. As of last Friday, the Community Transmission Index in Chatham County was 230. *Graphs from the Coastal Health District are at the bottom of this article.

Savannah’s mandate requires everyone, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, to wear a mask indoors when not with your immediate family. The mask mandate is in effect in city government facilities, early childhood facilities, hospitals, and transportation – including guided tours.

Mayor Johnson said he will be asking businesses to follow the mandate and encouraging religious institutions to recommend masks.

“We’re asking for our local business community, we’re asking for our faith community, again, to do the things that got us to the point of where we were. Savannah was able to open faster and at a better rate than most of our neighbors because we had taken the necessary steps up front,” Mayor Johnson said.

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He also said he is asking the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) and private schools to consider requiring masks for the upcoming school year.

The following statement was provided by SCCPSS:

“As the transmission of the COVID-19 virus spikes in our region again, it will be imperative that families avail themselves of every resource to stay safe. SCCPSS is committed to providing a multi-layered mitigation strategy for the reduction of transmission of the virus. At the current time, we plan to return to school with masks optional. Our schools cover a 426 square mile area over the entire county; to revise our standards for some schools and not for others would not be equitable. Masks ARE required on school buses and we encourage anyone who is unvaccinated, who has compromised immune system, or who lives with someone who is unvaccinated, to wear a mask if they desire.

SCCPSS remains committed to the health and safety of our staff and students. We continue to monitor the community transmission index, seek guidance from community health professionals, and consider other data pertinent to the spread of the virus. If conditions change, we may revise our position on mask wearing; however, at this time, masks remain optional for the return to school. If there are changes to the requirements, parents will be notified through our parent notification system, as well as through normal media channels, including our website and social media.”

This mandate expires on Aug. 26 at midnight unless extended.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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