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'Still time to make a difference' in SC, flatten coronavirus curve, Tecklenburg says

Coronavirus

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg urges residents to stay home this weekend and be with their families due to the coronavirus pandemic. Brad Nettles/Staff

As the Charleston area hits an acceleration phase in identifying the number of positive coronavirus cases, Mayor John Tecklenburg on Friday called for residents to help flatten the curve this weekend by practicing safe social distancing.

He also reinforced the city's perspective on a new opinion released by the S.C. Attorney General's Office about Charleston's stay-at-home policy, which he said will remain in effect. 

"We feel like we're in concert with the governor's wishes," Tecklenburg said. "We really have the same interests at heart."

If the governor were to order that the stay-at-home ordinance be lifted, Tecklenburg said he would abide by that. City Council members would have to vote to rescind the ordinance. 

"We do not want to be a hot spot," Tecklenburg said. "There is still time for us to make a difference, there is still time for our citizens to be engaged in social distancing."

During a news conference outside City Hall, Tecklenburg pointed to a series of charts illustrating the dramatic increase in positive cases in the state and county and how social distancing measures will prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with patients.

He acknowledged that what he and other local leaders are calling for goes against the Charlestonian spirit but that it is critical for city residents to adhere to the new policies in place. He urged residents to consider ordering groceries online for delivery. 

Coronavirus

Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds asks residents to stay home this weekend and not to congregate in crowds due to the coronavirus pandemic. Brad Nettles/Staff

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Police Chief Luther Reynolds told reporters that, as of Friday, no businesses or individuals were cited for violating the city's new ordinance. Over the weekend, residents should expect to see Charleston police out on the waterways to ensure that people aren't tying up boats and having parties on beaches. 

He reiterated points he made to The Post and Courier on Thursday about crime in the city: "Currently, right now our call volume has decreased." 

In a City Council teleconference daily briefing, members voted unanimously to delay collection of city hospitality taxes due for February and March  The new collection date is May 13  

Emergency Operations Director Shannon Scaff told Council members that police responded to two calls in the last 24-hours about large gatherings. 

Scaff said both the police and fire departments are reporting “no significant change in stock” of personal protection equipment, and aren’t lacking.

Not counting police and fire departments employees, Scaff said 42 percent of City employees are working in City offices, 15 percent are working from home, 20 percent are working in the field. The remaining employees are on either paid, annual or sick leave. 

Tecklenburg said city staff has provided guidance to big box stores on the best practices for social distancing.

City officials also said they are not ticketing for expired parking meters, but that vehicles parked next to a fire hydrant, prohibited zones or blocking safe travel for drivers will continue to be ticketed. 

Reach Mikaela Porter at 843-937-5906. Follow her on Twitter @mikaelaporterPC. 

Mikaela Porter joined The Post and Courier in April 2019 and writes about the city of Charleston. Previously, Mikaela reported on breaking news, local government, school issues and community happenings for The Hartford Courant in Hartford, Conn.

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