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Rethinking Our Lives Post Coronavirus

May 2020

Mayor David McCann as seen in Celebrate Hilton Head Magazine

The coronavirus pandemic has given me multiple reasons to pause and think about how we live and work, how we conduct business and how we govern. Over the last two months, our lives have changed dramatically and I wonder what our new normal will look like once we get through this crisis and return to our prior existence.

As we continue adapting, what best practices will we use to guide our response, reactions and behaviors during crisis situations including hurricane preparedness and possible evacuations? What lessons have we learned as leaders, business owners, neighbors, workers, parents and first responders?
Town Council found itself conducting meetings electronically. We gathered individually in our homes and connected through a virtual meeting platform on our iPads. We had to rethink how to gather public comments and how to present the meeting so the public could see us in action. As we move forward, will this method of meeting become one we occasionally employ when necessary?

Our Town Hall was closed to the public, and a large majority of our employees found themselves in a work-from-home situation. With this experience, our leadership is rethinking how a lot of business processes are handled, from collecting business licenses fees and approving building permits to answering telephone calls and conducting committee and staff meetings electronically.

Most businesses voluntarily closed in March while others were under Governor’s orders to shutter. Those that remained open took steps to protect their employees and other individuals that entered their offices or establishment. People were advised to stand six feet apart in line, wear masks, pick up take-out orders at the door of most restaurants, and wash hands repeatedly. The question is will they need to maintain these steps and continue making adjustments to their new normal for everyone’s safety?

The PGA cancelled the annual RBC Heritage that was scheduled for April. As a result, the Island took a huge economic hit. The PGA has since announced it will reschedule the event for June, but with no public physically present. As we prepare for this event, just what will our local involvement be? Should we begin looking at how the public interacts at all of the other popular events and fundraisers that take place on the Island?

With homeschooling now under their belts, many parents probably have a greater appreciation for their children’s teachers. But the question we have to ask ourselves is how will learning and school be different in the future? On behalf of the Town, I extend congratulations to graduates at every level of schooling. But I’m sure schools will have to look at how they host events to honor graduates.

Front-line first responders, from doctors and nurses to fire and rescue personnel, are always on alert and trained on using personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as PPE. During this pandemic, they have shown bravery and dedication to caring for patients. How will their roles and training change, and how will their treatment protocols change?

As people begin to recover from being out of work, what can we do to continue supporting them and assure them that, in time, they will be okay?

There are a lot of questions to be answered. As we think about best practices and about the way we conduct business, we welcome positive thoughts and ideas. You can share them with me at johnm@hiltonheadislandsc.gov and with your individual Town Council representative.

As always in our new normal lives, wash your hands and practice social distancing.