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Coronavirus update: Beaufort mayor asks Gov. McMaster to mandate shelter-in-place

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By MIKE MCCOMBS

Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling has written to South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster to ask him to enact a shelter-in-place mandate in response to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus crisis.

The text of Keyserling’s email to the governor was included in his regular email newsletter on Tuesday, March 24.

“I did email him and I assume he got it,” Keyserling said Wednesday. “He did not respond, but I didn’t expect him to. I just wanted him to hear our voice.”

Keyserling says he has the authority to enact shelter-in-place, like Savannah, Ga., and Charleston have done in recent days. But he said the downside to Beaufort doing anything alone is simply it wouldn’t carry as much weight.

“There is a desire for the municipalities and Beaufort County to display a unified stance,” Keyserling said. “It would mean more if it were one voice.”

That goes for a shelter-in-place mandate or any sort of resolution asking the governor to issue such an executive order.

According to a Beaufort County source, there was to be an emergency county council meeting on Thursday to address such a resolution, but that meeting didn’t happen.

Keyserling’s newsletter popular

Preceding the text of Keyserling’s letter to McMaster in his emailed newsletter was a letter from Guglielmo and Raffaella Regine of Ischia, an Italian island in the Gulf of Naples. The couple had visited Beaufort in January to visit relatives and was relating the difficulties with the outbreak in their home country.

The Regines relayed the difficulties faced by Italians and lauded the mayor for telling “the truth about what is happening” and calling out behavior that will make it difficult to slow the spread of the virus in his Sunday newsletter.

(Italy has been ravaged by the virus, seeing nearly 70,000 cases and almost 7,000 deaths, both most in the world.)

Keyserling said his newsletter, published more often now during the coronavirus crisis, has increased in popularity in recent days. He says the number of recipients who receive the newsletter that open it has increased by about 33 percent.

The main content in Keyserling’s Sunday newsletter was published as a column by The Island News, both online (https://yourislandnews.com/coronavirus-update-beaufort-can-and-must-be-better-please/) and in this week’s print edition (March 26-April 1). It has been extremely popular online, possibly the most popular post ever on the newspaper’s website.

To subscribe to Mayor Keyserling’s newsletter, readers can visit www.mayorbilly.com or email billyk@islc.net.

Text of Mayor Keyserling’s letter

March 24, 2020

Dear Governor McMaster:

Please declare an appropriate a “shelter in place” mandate. I believe the majority of the people in our community agree we must starve the virus of oxygen and it will go away in 15 days or so.

Those on the front lines are fighting and all we need is to be charged with this lofty assignment.

Let’s work together and win this battle to protect the people and state we love and cherish.

With sincere appreciation and respect for your consideration.

Please Be Safe and Let’s Together Make SC Safer for ALL.

Billy K-

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