With confirmed coronavirus cases mounting in Georgia, local officials in Savannah have announced plans to use drones to enforce social distancing among residents. 

Local outlet WSAV reports that the Savannah Police Department drones will issue the pre-recorded message “Due to the current health emergency, members of the public are reminded to keep a safe distance of six feet from others.” Out of five drones, only two of them will have the capability to issue the message. 

“We are in the middle of a crisis. We’re on our peak time frame and we’re serious about social distancing. The reason why we have so many cases we have is because, two weeks ago people felt that life was normal. It is not normal,” Van Johnson, mayor of Savannah, said. 

Savannah Police Sergeant Jason Pagliaro said that the drones will abide by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and only monitor select locations “where the need is present.”

New Jersey city Elizabeth is adopting similar initiatives with authorities using drones to emphasize social distancing and stay-at-home orders. 

Elizabeth residents were quick to voice privacy concerns. The Elizabeth Police Department responded in an additional Facebook post, saying that the department is “just trying to save lives, not trying to be Big Brother.”

The department also confirmed that the drones will not be recording footage or taking pictures. 

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, there are currently 13,315 COVID-19 cases across the state. Chatham County, in which Savannah is located, has 152 active cases and five fatalities. 

Published on Apr 13, 2020