Daily ‘Mayor TV’ report is a must-see during health crisis

Salisbury Mayor Jake Day’s daily Coronavirus updates on Facebook Live have developed a loyal following as citizens navigate the current pandemic restrictions.

It’s 5 p.m. in Salisbury and on any given day, a couple thousand or so people are tuning into what has become a valuable link to information, social interaction and even humor in a world turned upside down by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nicknamed “Mayor TV” or “The Jake Show” by regular viewers, the daily coronavirus briefing by Mayor Jake Day is live-streamed on both the city of Salisbury and Day’s personal Facebook pages, attracting locals and even officials from other jurisdictions in Maryland.

Each evening, Day responds to comments and questions about all things coronavirus as he jumps back and forth from one Facebook page to the other.

“It’s amazing to watch him multi-task,” said Mike Dunn, President and CEO of the Greater Salisbury Committee, who jokingly compared it to “walking, talking and chewing gum” at the same time.

Day starts off with that day’s Covid-19 numbers for Wicomico County and the entire region, and gives updates on state orders and testing efforts. The briefings also provide real-time information to questions posed by viewers such as what city and county facilities are open, and others issues not in his immediate purview such as how to apply for unemployment and whether stimulus money will be withheld for anyone owing child support.

If he doesn’t have the answer, Day frequently will do a Google search in the midst of the briefings and provide the information. Sometimes viewers also will respond with helpful tips.

The mayor’s dedication and military leadership are on display in every one of the briefings, Dunn said. His efforts to keep the public informed are often compared to those of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“He’s up there with the best who are responding,” Dunn said.

Day is one of several mayors in the state who have started providing regular Covid-19 information to constituents, and are “stepping up in big ways,” said Scott Hancock, executive director of the Maryland Municipal League. Some of the mayors post recorded messages, while others follow the same live format as Day.

“I think Mayor Day is doing a great job,” Hancock said. “He’s a master at getting answers to people even if it’s not always what they want to hear.”

Elizabeth Graisbery Parker of Delmar who watches nearly every day and frequently leaves comments said she had been watching a lot of state and national news since Hogan issued a stay-home order, but Day offers information that is more useful.

“It’s the localness of his updates,” she said. “And I really appreciate being able to chat with people I know.”

The briefings also are good for crowdsourcing information. Parker said she was able to find hand sanitizer after another of Day’s followers mentioned that Ollie’s had just received a large shipment.

“It’s really helping me way more than national news,” she said.

Day began holding virtual briefings and news conferences on March 12 — shortly after Hogan issued his first executive order — to announce the cancellation of the Salisbury Marathon and other city actions.

The mayor also convened a city coronavirus task force that now meets every Tuesday via video conferencing and he hosts a weekly virtual meeting with other city and county leaders from all over the Eastern Shore.

By late March, he was holding daily 5 p.m. briefings for the public even if there wasn’t a lot to report. They usually last between 40 minutes to an hour.

This week, he also debuted a new podcast “Six Feet Apart” that is available on the city website and Spotify. His first guest Dr. Samantha Scott of The Child & Family Center discussed changes in family dynamics due to Covid-19, the importance of family meetings and setting weekly and thinking outside the box and working with your employer.

“People just wanted to know what’s going on,” Day said. “I try to reach as broad an audience as possible.”

But for all of the mayor’s fans who tune in every day, there are also a few trolls who try to provoke him with negative comments or sarcastic remarks. Day generally replies to their comments, sometimes with humor.

They are allowed to disagree, he said, but “some of those opinions are ill-informed.”

Others like to joke or engage in good-natured teasing of the mayor, and he is quick with a reply that is often humorous. Dunn said Day has the rare ability to engage with people when it gets off-topic or funny. More importantly, he is helping provide information to an audience that is searching for reliable answers.

“People are impressed by it,” Dunn said. “It’s not about him – he has information and he has the pulpit to share it.”

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