Myrtle Beach mayor explains holiday weekend preparations

Mayor Brenda Bethune talks to “GMA” about the expectations for the beach community including the mandatory mask order to mitigate risks of spreading coronavirus.
4:13 | 07/03/20

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Transcript for Myrtle Beach mayor explains holiday weekend preparations
Joining us is the mayor of one of the top beach destinations in the country, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Mayor Brenda Bethune is joining us right now. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Happy fourth of July. I want to jump to the holiday weekend. You are expecting thousands of visitors but your beach community is currently experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases right now. How worried are you about this outbreak getting worse? Well, it's a major concern here in Myrtle Beach. As you mentioned we will expect thousands of tourists, approximately over 100,000 this weekend. So it's a concern especially for our residents and our community as a whole. So we've seen other cities doing this as well. In one way you're hoping to curb the surge with a mandatory mask order that goes into effect today requiring people to wear masks in public places. But do you think -- we're now in July. This is months after the peak of the pandemic. Do you think you waited too long to take this action? Well, in hindsight, we probably did and we should have enacted a mask order when the hotels opened back up, however, we did not have that authority locally at that time. Just last week our state attorney general gave that power to the local municipalities to be able to enact a mask order and other things, so I wish that we could have done it sooner. We acted on it as quickly as possible and we just hope that now we can get everyone to comply with it and keep everyone safe while they're here. Governor Mcmaster has refused to give a statewide mask order. How much does that create a problem for your community when you have different rules just around your city? Well, Myrtle Beach is much different than a small city in the upstate. So I can't say that I disagree with not having a statewide mandate, because the rest of the state doesn't deal with the type of influx of visitors that we do. What I think is important to focus on is the fact that the governor and the attorney general gave that power to the local cities to their municipalities. And we're all doing the best that we can. We want people to stay safe and the main point is we've got to protect the people that are here as well as our own residents and we believe that the masks will help do that. Speaking of protecting the people who are there, there are reports of hundreds of new covid cases in D.C., Virginia and other areas linked to trips to your city, Myrtle Beach. Do you accept responsibility for some of that? Well, I don't think the responsibility is all on us. People spread this virus, not places. And there is no way to determine if the people who are coming here have already been exposed to it or if they got it here. So I think that's a very unfair analogy just for the very sense that if I get the virus I don't know where I get it from. So I don't like to place blame. I think that that does not help solve the issues that we are all facing. I hear what you're saying about placing blame, but isn't that part of the issue here, that's why there was supposed to be testing, contact tracing so you actually can keep track of where the outbreaks are happening and where people are coming from but I do want to ask you something else because Victor mentioned this, Charleston reported the severe impact of the virus and health officials saying a nearby city, Charleston, described it as a category 6 hurricane of illness. Do you have similar fears about the strain on your hospital systems there? That's always a concern and our emergency management team is in constant communication with our hospitals throughout the area daily. That is something that is very, very closely monitored and that is one reason why the mask order was so important. We actually heard from a lot of those hospitals that this is what they wanted and needed. Mayor Bethune of Myrtle Beach, thank you for your time. Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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