In Pembroke during the COVID-19 pandemic, every day is live update day.
At 12:30 p.m., regular as clockwork.
On Facebook, on the city’s Downtown Development Authority page. That’s where either City Administrator Alex Floyd, Public Safety Director Bill Collins or DDA Director Renee Hernandez uses the magic of social media to tell residents what’s happening in the city.
Floyd, who did one such update with his 2-year-old son Ellis helping out, said the updates are a two-way street, serving as a way to keep residents informed as well as letting them provide feedback to city officials.
The active social media presence is nothing new in Pembroke, and other communities are doing much the same. But in Pembroke the effort really took flight during Hurricane Matthew in 2016 when Floyd began using the DDA page to communicate with residents. The page now has more than 2,500 likes – or about one for each of the city’s estimated 2,500 residents.
Floyd, who shares the slogan, “Stay safe, stay calm and complete the 2020 census,” said he’s “very proud of the way,” residents are handling recent measures implemented by Pembroke in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus, such as a nightly 9 p.m. curfew, “We are constantly amazed by the involvement and generosity of our citizens,” he said. “We have folks making masks, we have folks feeding first responders, we have folks shopping for the elderly and medically fragile, we have folks leaving encouraging messages on social media.”
While Floyd, who is 29, is no stranger to social media, he said the city council is having to learn some new tricks in order to stay connected.
“Of the six members of our governing body, four are over 60,” he said. “We agreed early on that this is no time to compromise their health. We would run the city by phone and email as much as possible for as long as necessary and City Hall would continue to operate.”
Floyd said the city’s elected officials remain in contact without violating state sunshine laws.
“Mayor, Council and staff communicate regularly, we address concerns as a body and while we have not held a public meeting yet and are unsure what that will look like, we are following the guidelines of the Georgia Municipal Association and will keep the people’s government open and transparent to them,” he said.