CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie held a joint press conference on Friday to provide an update on COVID-19.
Mayor Tecklenburg began by saying that the stay at home ordinance is still basically in effect, although some new businesses have been allowed to reopen. He noted that opening the businesses should not encourage people to stop social distancing.
The businesses that will reopen should practice rigorous health and safety procedures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
When asked about businesses such as spas and salons opening up in neighboring Georgia, Mayor Tecklenburg said that he thinks the decision is premature.
In regard to testing, Mayor Tecklenburg said that they are working closely with MUSC to increase capacity, and that antibody testing is expected to begin on first responders next week. The city is also working with the Department of Health and Environmental Control to improve the City’s contact tracing ability.
Mayor Tecklenburg also discussed the City’s financial situation. He said that the City of Charleston’s budget operates on a calendar year as opposed to a fiscal year, and they are currently projecting a $41 million deficit by December. Reduced revenues in the tourism sector have had a particularly significant impact on the City’s budget.
Mayor Haynie emphasized the need for a cohesive plan, and thanked Mayor Tecklenburg for the immense collaboration between the municipalities.
There will be an emergency Town Council meeting on Monday night to discuss measures for opening businesses. Mayor Haynie said that he wants citizens to know that our area is safe; sanitation and hygiene measures at stores in Charleston should be equally rigorous in Mount Pleasant stores.
They will also discuss a phased reopening plan for all of Mount Pleasant. According to Mayor Haynie, the curve seems to be flattening in Mount Pleasant, but he noted that it will take more time to become clear.
The budget for the next fiscal year will be a topic at the Town Council meeting as well. The Town of Mount Pleasant’s budget is projected to break-even at the end of this fiscal year, and Mayor Haynie said that he does not expect a deficit. A budget for next year will not be proposed at Monday’s meeting, but certain elements will be discussed.
As a few more activities, like the Essential Goods Market and some recreation areas open up, Mayor Haynie said that respecting social distancing guidelines is paramount. If COVID-19 cases begin to spike, those activities will have to shut down again.