The state of New York will help set up COVID-19 testing sites and contact tracing in Savannah, officials announced Monday.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson presents New York Governor Andrew Cuomo with a painting by local artist Panhandle Slim, featuring Cuomo's picture and a quote.
Caption
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson presents New York Governor Andrew Cuomo with a painting by local artist Panhandle Slim, featuring Cuomo's picture and a quote.
Credit: Emily Jones/GPB News

The state of New York will help set up COVID-19 testing sites and contact tracing in Savannah, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Savannah Mayor Van Johnson announced Monday. New York has also delivered thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment to Savannah.

Cuomo traveled to the coastal Georgia city for a roundtable discussion with city, religious and medical leaders, after which the governor and mayor spoke to the press.

Cuomo said now that New York’s case numbers are falling, the state needs to help others.

“We all have to come together. New York can’t do it on its own,” he said. “Because if the virus is thriving anywhere, it will thrive everywhere.”

Johnson thanked Cuomo for his expertise and help.

“Just your presence gives us hope,” he told the governor and other visiting experts from New York. “Because we want to be able to talk about COVID-19 in our rearview mirror, too.”

After grappling with some of the country’s worst virus numbers in March, New York has substantially reined in the virus. Cuomo announced Monday that 716 people in New York were hospitalized, the lowest number since March 18.

In Savannah, meanwhile, as in much of Georgia, cases are spiking. The number of cases in Chatham County has doubled since early July, increasing from 1,505 on July 2 to 3,483 on Monday.

Cuomo sharply criticized the federal response to the virus on Monday, saying it could be under control nationwide with a more comprehensive federal response.

And Johnson has criticized Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s response to the virus, most recently saying his mask mandate for the city remains in force despite the governor’s order suspending such local rules.

Cuomo praised Johnson’s action to fight the virus.

“Mayor Johnson rose to the occasion,” he said. “If I didn’t think he did, I wouldn’t be here today. Because I want to be helpful, but I know that I can only be as helpful as the quality of the city’s administration.”

Johnson, in turn, thanked Cuomo for the support. He said New York offered to help, and Savannah accepted.

The state of New York has delivered 124,000 masks, 7,500 test kits, 7,500 gowns, 7,500 N-95 masks, 7,500 face shields and 1,200 gallons of hand sanitizer to Savannah.

New York and the city of Savannah also plan to set up test sites at the Temple of Glory and the Kingdom Life Christian Fellowship Church, which Cuomo said will serve as model sites for further testing operations.

The state of New York will also share its contact tracing training program and software with Savannah, Cuomo said.