JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Speaking from his home while quarantined after being around someone who later tested positive for coronavirus, Mayor Lenny Curry said he will continue to guide the city through a middle ground -- somewhere between people wanting businesses closed down again and those who want the city to return to normal as if the virus was not a threat.
Acknowledging that the number of cases of COVID-19 in the city is rising fast -- 744 more on Friday -- and hospitalizations are increasing, Curry urged people to protect themselves with social distancing, wearing masks and other precautions while carrying on their lives.
“We’ve got to learn to live with this virus. Continual lockdowns are not sustainable. They’re not healthy on many fronts -- economically and in personal health. And, frankly, people won’t stand for it at this point,” Curry said. “On the other hand ... community spread is real and this virus has severely impacted the lives of many people in our country. Two weeks ago I could only name a couple of people that I have heard of that had COVID-19. Today I could name many.”
Curry took questions about plans to hold the Republican National Convention planned for the VyStar Veteran’s Memorial Arena the last week of August when there’s no assurance the spread of the virus will moderate by that time.
“We are monitoring the situation, so these daily questions about what’s going to happen -- the answer remains the same: we’re monitoring the situation and we’re going to act in the best interests of public health,” Curry said.
Curry and his chief of staff said they were in the process of answering the questions Council President Tommy Hazouri asked in a letter raising concerns about the RNC coming to Jacksonville. Because the questions involved several issues, departments and private entities, the city was still preparing its response.
That answer did not sit well with Hazouri, who wonders if all of this is going to be dumped on the council without much notice.
Hazouri, who is worried what the RNC could do to Jacksonville’s reputation, said he wants answers now.
“We are one of the three hotspots in the country now. If it’s the same as it is today, then shame on us for not respecting our citizens enough to protect their health safety and welfare,” Hazouri said.
The mayor also said Friday that the city is reviewing the lawsuit filed by a state lawmaker challenging the city’s mask mandate as well as a number of other suits.
“There are people associated with a number of these things that I know personally. Not a single one of them is yet to pick up the phone (and) have a conversation. It’s communicating via paper,” Curry said.