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Posted on: April 4, 2020

Mayor Keyserling urges residents to stay at home, will ask for directive from City Council

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BEAUFORT, S.C. (April 4, 2020) – Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling is personally requesting residents of the City to stay home for the next 14 days. He made the request in a letter to City residents today (April 4).

“After consulting with mayors, municipal attorneys, physicians and listening carefully to Governor McMaster and Dr. Fauci in the White House, and watching numbers of cases rising faster than projected, I cannot let another day pass without urging you to stay at home, though I realize you may have essential doctors appointments, need to go to the pharmacy or grocery store or get some fresh air and exercise in your neighborhood for your physical and mental health,” Keyserling wrote.

As of today, there were 148 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Beaufort County (See ZIP code breakdown here). South Carolina has a total of 1,917 confirmed cases, and 40 deaths, three of those in Beaufort County. These numbers do not include cases at Parris Island or the Marine Corps Air Station.

Mayor Keyserling made the point that Beaufort County had the third highest number of confirmed cases, “led only by two cities within large metropolitan areas [Charleston and Columbia].”

He said he disagreed with Gov. Henry McMaster’s incremental approach. South Carolina is one of nine states that do not have a statewide shelter-at-home order, and the only one in the Southeast. “With all due respect for the Governor, who I know is working round the clock with proficient experts, for the health and safety of you, my fellow Beaufort citizens, I am concerned about the lack of clarity,” Keyserling said.

“As Mayor, I don’t have the ability under state law to unilaterally declare a stay at home order. This restriction, however, does not prevent me from speaking out strongly in urging you as I believe is my obligation.”

Keyserling said he will call an emergency meeting of City Council via teleconference for Monday to present a local stay-at-home directive “that does not expand on what the governor has already restricted but clearly and strongly urges Beaufort residents to shelter at home.”

“I have heard from hundreds of you, asking for stronger leadership from Beaufort, from South Carolina, and from Washington. Within the legal constraints, I believe our proposed emergency ordinance can provide that leadership directive,” he said.

Read letter here

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