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Remain strong and committed to one another
Russ Carpenter
Russ Carpenter

From the beginning, COVID-19 has been uncharted waters for the entire world. As you know, Governor Brian Kemp outlined his timeline to begin reopening commerce in the state of Georgia with a new executive order. When this message is published, Phase I will be underway with restaurants reopening their dining areas and other businesses reopening their doors too.

To our business community, I want to thank you sincerely for your cooperation. We know this has been a time of worry and struggle for many of you and your employees while you have taken measures to protect staff and customers. To our residents, please support our local businesses by eating and shopping local when they can reopen, but let’s be safe about it. If you do not feel comfortable getting a haircut or dining-in quite yet, certainly that’s your prerogative. Each of us wants to be personally safe and we want our businesses to survive. We can do both, as we have been. To the City of Richmond Hill staff, my deepest appreciation for your dedication and for providing uninterrupted City services during this unprecedented time. I am hopeful that our workforce will stay as healthy as possible and continue to ensure high quality of service for all our residents.

On behalf of the City, I would like to offer a word of encouragement to local healthcare providers and first responders. You have been, and continue to be, lifesavers in our community. You are appreciated, and you are valued. What you do matters, and that you are willing to do it, matters even more. Thank you.

I want to express my gratitude to the residents and businesses of Richmond Hill and all of Bryan County for taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously. From the start, we understood that we were all in this together. The sacrifices you and your family have made and continue to make during this time – closing businesses, social distancing from those you love and canceling gatherings such as weddings, funerals, and graduation ceremonies – are not in vain. These sacrifices are bringing us closer to the ultimate goal of slowing the spread of coronavirus and flattening the curve of this pandemic. While the number of cases will probably rise, the actions we have taken are, in the end, working.

With every step that we make towards getting back to normal, there comes the responsibility to maintain measures and behaviors that got us to this point. Everyone is urged to continue following CDC and health department guidance by sheltering in place as much as possible. Please wear face masks or cloth coverings when you are in public.

I urge all of us to not let our guard down yet and stay the course. We cannot relent, become lax, or think we are okay and decide not to follow social distancing. We must remain strong and committed for the health and safety of our families, friends, and neighbors. The long-term health of this community is dependent on every resident remembering that their actions today impact the health of a neighbor’s child, a friend’s grandmother, or someone in their household.

Stay positive and kind to each other. Social distancing can be challenging to everyone’s mental health and mood. Whenever possible, offer an emotional boost however you can – a wave or an inspiring chalk message on a sidewalk. In what has become our tagline, we’re all in this together. Richmond Hill is resilient, as proven through numerous hurricane evacuations over the past few years. With the Coronavirus, we will be no different. May God continue to lead us.

Carpenter is mayor of Richmond Hill.

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