Palatka Mayor Terrill Hill continues to think the future is bright for the city.
For now, though, he wants residents to take precautions and follow guidelines and orders related to COVID-19.
“Right now, we’re in unknown territory,” Hill said Wednesday. “We don’t need to be deceived or have false confidence that this thing isn’t real.
“Until it hits home, people may not understand what’s going on. We shouldn’t have to deal with murders and tragic deaths. We shouldn’t be having celebrations or partying. We should be doing everything we can to protect ourselves and everyone around us.”
Hill said he has several friends across the country who have had family members test positive for the virus, with some dying. He said he also knows a former college football teammate who has the virus.
He urged everyone to follow guidelines of hand washing and social distancing, as well as stay-at-home orders issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday.
“My message to everyone is not to panic but to program yourself to come out only when it’s essential,” Hill said. “Limit your time out in the air. We can all do our part. I’m grateful for the Department of Health for taking the lead, along with others.
“We want to take the same message and make sure Putnam is unified. We can stop the spread (of the virus) in Putnam if we stay inside and heed warnings from the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).”
Hill said he’s talked with small business owners to let them know help is available through the economic recovery package signed into law last week.
Sba.gov has loan guidelines and resources available for businesses.
“There’s a coronavirus loan program and payroll forgiveness programs set aside for small business owners who keep their employees,” Hill said.
He said he continues to have interest from those looking to do business or other ventures in the city.
“I’m encouraged people believe we will still see growth here,” Hill said. “We’re adjusting and it’s made a lot of folks step back and look at the way we do business.
“My biggest concern is the safety for the community as a whole, for our children to be in a positive environment and for local business owners to be in a position where they can prosper once this thing runs its course.”
Hill said the city is looking at ways to set up a virtual town hall meeting where residents can participate online. He said he also plans to do a weekly update to keep residents informed.
He said the city was testing streaming processes Wednesday and virtual town hall meetings could begin next week.