HAMPTON, Va. — For Mayor Donnie Tuck's 2020 State of the City address, the city took its speech virtual. Tuck appeared in a YouTube video on November 19, alone in the Hampton Roads convention center.
The theme was "All for one, and one for all."
"This is my fifth state of the city address, but it's very different from the ones that came before," he began.
He went on to address the challenges COVID-19 had brought to Hampton since March of this year. The pandemic affected people's health, their employment, what "going to work" looked like, how children attended school and how businesses operated.
"There's been a direct human toll. In Hampton, as of this taping, 2,223 residents have had confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 99 cases have required hospitalization. We've lost 33 residents to this pandemic," he said.
"When reciting the statistics, it's important to remember that these numbers represent real people. Parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons - and we send our sympathies to these families."
He said even though it's been "an incredibly difficult year" for many - Hampton worked together to minimize the pandemic's reach.
"Over the last 7 and a half months, we've averaged less than 10 new cases per day in our city," Tuck said.
The mayor invited several members of the community to speak on efforts to slow the virus.
Chelsea Greenwood of CrossFit Buckroe discussed how she chose to shut her doors, rather than wait for a direct order, since that was the best way to protect her community.
Skip Ferebee, of the YMCA, talked about adjusting their safety protocols so they could keep providing childcare to working parents.
Charlene Clark, of Signature Canvas Makers, said her business pivoted from making sails to making face masks.
Tuck also spoke about "resiliency" - and said that doesn't just refer to recovery from storms or flooding.
"It's about a community's strength, and its ability to recover from any hardship," he said. "Hampton's resiliency dates back to our founding in 1610. Our toughness is why we are the oldest continuously occupied English settlement in the united states. We've weathered 410 years of wars, disease, fires and floods - as well as many, many good times."
Tuck said he saw people pull together as the city of Hampton to fight coronavirus this year.
He also pointed forward to several upcoming business investments for the area.
The mayor said residents would soon see movement on the Huntington Ingalls Unmanned Systems Center of Excellence (a $46 million investment, estimated to bring 269 new jobs to Hampton), the Virginia Tech Seafood Research Facility (a $94 million investment) and the Settlers Landing Road retail and townhome development (a $25 million project).
"Hampton is becoming a center of excellence and research in key areas," he said.
He ended the address by encouraging people to wear face masks and support local businesses.
"I expect that we will again gather in-person next year. I also expect that I will be highlighting many new developments, bringing tax revenues and jobs to Hampton."
You can watch the entire speech online.