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Mayor Tecklenburg’s Coronavirus Press Conference Remarks on March 24

Today, at a 2:30 p.m. press conference, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg gave the following remarks regarding the city’s continued efforts to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19:

Good afternoon.

For the past several weeks, governments and residents across our state have been working to slow the onset of the coronavirus pandemic here in South Carolina.

Schools and city public buildings have been closed. Bars and restaurants have stopped serving onsite. Large gatherings have been banned, and citizens have been urged to stay home, stay distanced and stay smart.

But with yesterday's announcement that the Covid-19 pandemic has officially reached the acceleration phase in our our state, we must now take even more dramatic action, while there's still time to save thousands of lives right here in Charleston by flattening the curve.

That's why, in light of the large gatherings we've seen in public spaces both here and around the country, I've today ordered the temporary closure of all city parks and playgrounds.

And it's why I will tonight introduce a citywide stay at home ordinance for emergency action by our City Council.

Put simply, this ordinance would require the closure of non-essential businesses here in the city of Charleston, and direct our citizens to stay at home, except for necessary trips to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or for other essential services and activities. This action would last for a period of 14 days, and would be taken under the city's broad emergency authority to protect public health and safety during times of emergency.

But before we take that step, I believe we owe our citizens and business owners a clear explanation of the facts that make this emergency action necessary.

First, there's the fact that our state public health agency, DHEC, has now officially told us that the coronavirus pandemic is in the acceleration phase in our state. This means that there is significant community spread, and that we've entered the period of maximum danger for our citizens, with infection rates and deaths due to this disease set to rise exponentially.

Second, there's the simple fact of population density. Three of the four largest cities in our state sit side by side here in the Lowcountry, with a total population in the hundreds of thousands. We cannot and must not allow this deadly, highly contagious disease to spread uncontrolled among our residents.

And, finally, there are the numbers with regard to the disease itself. Modeling at both Columbia University and here locally shows that Charleston is facing thousands of deaths -- most of them unnecessary -- if we don't stop the spread of this virus and prevent our local hospital system from being overwhelmed right now. This moment -- with the pandemic still in the earliest part of the acceleration phase -- is our last, best chance to keep that tragedy from happening here in our city.

Fellow Charlestonians, yes, the days ahead may be long. They may call for a level of service to others that's uncommon in our age.

But if a lifetime in Charleston has taught me anything, it is this: There is no challenge that we cannot face together. There is no trial that can break our faith. There is no pathogen that can lessen our love for our families, our friends, or our fellow Charlestonians.

We can and will bend the curve on this disease in our community. And we will do it the way we do everything here in Charleston: We'll do it together.
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Mayor Tecklenburg's Coronavirus Press Conference Remarks on March 22:

Today, at a 4:00 p.m. press conference with representatives from Charleston County, the City of North Charleston and the Town of Mount Pleasant Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg gave the following remarks:

With the coronavirus now aggressively spreading across our state and region, we're here today with a simple message for our citizens -- stay home, stay distanced and stay smart.

Doctors tell us that the uncontrolled spread of Covid-19 would be nothing less than a death sentence for thousands of our friends and family members right here in the Lowcountry. And the only way to avoid that tragedy is for all of us to start following those three simple rules right now.

Number one, stay home -- and that means just what it says. If you don't have an essential reason to go out, don't go out. The life you save by avoiding that unnecessary trip could turn out to be yours or one of your loved ones. And as difficult as this is to say to our already suffering business owners, you as citizens have a critical role to play, too: If your business is not truly essential during this time, temporarily closing your doors or having your employees work from home now is a hard choice to make -- but it's infinitely better than the economic and social devastation that you and the rest of us will suffer if this virus gets out of control in our area.

Number two, stay distanced. Practicing good social distancing when we have to go out for essential trips to the grocery store or the pharmacy is the best medicine we have to protect ourselves and each other.

And finally, number three, stay smart. Wash your hands. Don't buy all the toilet paper at the grocery store. Don't believe every crazy Facebook rumor that's floating around. And whatever you do, don't go out if you have a cough and fever. That's when you have to self-quarantine immediately and go to MUSC's telehealth website at musc.care to get into the system for testing.

The choice facing our community today is simple.

If we follow these rules right now -- if we stay home, stay distanced and stay smart -- we can still avoid being a hotspot, like Italy or New York.

And if we don't follow these rules, we can spend the next few months watching funerals online -- literally, thousands of funerals -- because we won't be able to gather together even to say goodbye to our loved ones.

We're here today to ask our citizens to follow these rules and choose life.

The power is in all of our hands.
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