Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Tuesday offered more details on the city’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Striking a note of gravity, Curry alluded to the Great Depression, World War II and 9/11 as comparable crises, saying history would judge leaders on their response to the coronavirus.
“Our kids and our grandkids will look back on this moment and time and judge us,” Curry said.
“Our kids are watching,” Curry said, describing a “critical moment” in which people “must stand united to answer this call … and come out of this crisis.”
Curry, who found out about the city’s first case of the current coronavirus from “the news,” has been better positioned in recent days to lead in efforts.
Currently, six cases are in the city, with one cluster of cases at a “facility,” said a city official Tuesday.
However, more may be found, as mobile testing is coming, Curry tweeted Tuesday night.
“The President and Governor are setting up mobile testing in our city this week. We are also setting up an additional mobile testing site and local hospitals are setting up mobile and rapid testing sites,” Curry asserted. “Health experts and leaders tell me we will be testing over 1,000 people per day by the end of the week.”
That comes as Jacksonville, and the state, are both finding that recommendations of social distancing are difficult to enforce.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday “suspended” bars for 30 days, irking people dependent on that industry, many of whom will be stripped of livelihoods and possibly more.
Much of the media conference dealt with questions about the imminent destruction of the city’s event and bar industry.
“This will be awful,” Curry said, “for the bottom line … economic disaster for many.”
Curry urged takeout orders from restaurants, and said he believed alcohol sales in restaurants were now banned also.
“I understand the economic hardship, the fear,” Curry said, before describing how the virus can spread and potentially cause a “rush on hospitals.”
“The entire system begins to fall apart,” Curry said, noting that has happened elsewhere.
Beyond self-isolation, Curry noted that testing sites, both at TIAA Bank and a drive-thru, will be available for county residents by appointment only.
“Long waits,” Curry said, are frequent when people call the Health Department.
Additionally, Curry urged the halting of evictions.
Elections continued Tuesday, with “sanitized and safe” polling places.
“We’re not aware of any issues,” Curry said, noting he voted in person.
The crisis came at a pivotal time politically for the Mayor and the city.
For Curry, who has been battered by blowback from the prolonged exploration of selling the city’s municipal owned utility, this crisis has offered an opportunity to reinvent himself.
For the city of Jacksonville, there is little to do but trust the Mayor and hope for the best.
Curry’s historical references also included Fred Rogers.
“Look for the helpers. Jacksonville, it’s time to be helpers,” Curry said.
That world seems light years away from the bare-knuckled brawler who exulted in 19-0 or 18-1 votes for bills months, years ago.