Savannah City Council to vote on new COVID restrictions, vaccine incentive program for employees

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 10:47 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah City Council will vote on two big COVID related items Thursday. It will be the first meeting after Savannah Mayor Van Johnson announced the cancellation of large events until September 30th.

Council will vote on changes to the mayor’s emergency order and whether or not to greenlight a vaccine incentive resolution for city and county employees.

Mayor Van Johnson says he met with Chatham County Commission Chairman Chester Ellis, Savannah- Chatham County Public School System Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett, and Chatham Area Transit Interim CEO Valerie Ragland to talk about how to improve vaccination rates in Chatham County.

They are looking to pay employees in cold, hard cash to get vaccinated. If it is approved, the mayor says they plan to give cash to employees who were already vaccinated too.

“The goal is to try something new and different,” said Savannah Mayor Van Johnson.

It is important to note that the county, CAT and the school district would also need to approve a measure similar to the city’s in order for them to offer the incentive to their employees.

“If we are below 50 percent and we can get significantly above 50 percent and the county does the same and CAT does the same and particularly the school board, if they are able to get above that, we are looking in much better shape,” said Mayor Johnson.

During their discussion, Mayor Johnson says they decided that the county and city would use money from the American Rescue Plan to pay employees.

“The welfare of our cities depends on the health and welfare of our citizens, and so it is cumulative, and therefore we have to work together,” said Mayor Johnson. “We have to get people vaccinated as quickly as we can. We have to wear a mask. We have to ensure that we are doing this together, because COVID does not care who it affects.”

Council will also vote on whether to approve a raise for eligible city employees. Mayor Johnson says a majority of that will be paid for from money the city saved by keeping the same millage rate.

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