Updated after the press conference by Lauren Wolverton at our sister station WSAV in Savannah.
New York Governor 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. The donation is broken down, below.
- 124,000 face masks
- 7,500 testing kits
- 7,500 gowns
- 7,500 N-95 masks
- 1,200 gallons of hand sanitizer
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 and at Kingdom Life Christian Fellowship Church.
Cuomo said contact tracing is the final thing New York is bringing to Savannah. 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.
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.
SAVANNAH, Ga (WETM) – Governor Andrew Cuomo is currently in Georgia to visit the Mayor of the City of Savannah, Van Johnson. Governor Cuomo confirmed in his morning briefing this morning form JFK Airport that he was visiting Savannah to meet with the Mayor and other medical experts.
Cuomo says that he and the mayor will discuss what has been done in New York to handle COVID-19 and will also discuss plans to help with local testing and contract tracing programs. Cuomo also said that his team is bringing PPE to Savannah.
This is New York’s way of giving back for all the help that the state received earlier this year, Cuomo says. He says he hopes to also help out in Atlanta, Florida and Houston in some way.
You can watch the press conference live this afternoon.