As 2,457 new cases of COVID-19 with 15 deaths were reported in Mississippi Wednesday, Mayor Tim Kent has issued a statement reminding the public of Gov. Tate Reeves’ executive order mandating the wearing of masks in public buildings. Later, state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs essentially recommended avoiding any and all social gathering outside the family unit.
Wednesday, Union County had a reported 1,729 COVID-19 cases with 26 deaths. For now, six out of every 100 Union County residents is infected. There were eight confirmed COVID patients at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County but only one of them was in the ICU. That means the hospital was in better shape than some because it had six ICU beds available.
Still, the trend in cases is particularly disturbing to city officials because of the number of local people who do not appear to take the situation and danger to health seriously.
The mayor’s statement on behalf of city officials:
As leaders for the city of New Albany, Mississippi, we have watched as COVID-19 is presently surging to alarming levels in our state and region, negatively and irrevocably impacting our constituents, families, and friends. As a result of this current surge, Governor Tate Reeves on November 24, 2020 issued Executive Order 1532, which imposed a mask mandate on Union County. Therefore, the City of New Albany desires to give notice that this mask mandate applies to all businesses, customers and citizens within the city until rescinded by the Governor.
This mandate specifically requires every person in Union County:
1) To wear face covering, covering the nose and mouth, when inside businesses, schools or other indoor spaces;
2) To maintain six (6) feet of social distance between other persons not of the same household when possible; and
3) Authorizes local governmental authorities to enforce the mandate pursuant to Miss Code. 33-15-11(b)(5) and 33-15-11(b)(6).
This mandate is based on the scientific evidence that mask mandates are associated with “significantly lower” rates of COVID-I9 case spread. Personal accountability measures such as requiring and encouraging people to wear masks are crucial to the health and welfare of our citizens. We are mindful that the burden of enforcement of this mandate is largely on our businesses. The city respectfully requests diligent assistance by all its resident businesses in order to avoid more restrictive and burdensome mandates for the welfare of our citizens and visitors.
In this most important of seasons, let us all take time to give thanks for friends, family and all of our blessings. Let us all show our care and compassion by taking the appropriate measures like wearing a face covering when in public and in your business. Let’s keep each other safe and healthy. Let’s work together, as annoying as it is, to at least make an effort to stop this pandemic in our community.
Dr. Dobbs’ statement:
Due to the rapidly rising burden of COVID-19 cases, excessive hospitalizations and the high risk of COVID-19 infection in the community, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is issuing the following Public Health Guidance.
All residents of Mississippi should avoid any social gathering that includes individuals outside of the nuclear family or household. MSDH recommends that Mississippians only participate in work, school or other absolutely essential activities.
MSDH recommends that all Mississippians protect themselves and their families by avoiding public or social gatherings such as the following:
- Social events or parties
• Family gatherings outside of the household or nuclear family
• Funerals (other than close family and preferably outdoors)
• Sporting events
• In-person church services
The failure of many Union Countians to wear masks and avoid crowding was a topic at Tuesday’s meeting of the New Albany Board of Aldermen.
City officials were frustrated by the comparatively low level of mask compliance even as the number of coronavirus cases climbs.
Although the governor has included Union County as high risk, he has provided little guidance in how this mandate would be enforced.
For now, the mayor is asking the business owners to help enforce the mandate, in part because there are not enough law enforcement officers to adequately do so, even if officials wanted to go to that extreme.
He said store staff might ask people to wear masks or ask them to leave if they refuse, but did not recommend confronting anyone.
A business owner can simply refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask, of course, if the owner is willing to do so.
Ultimately, state law does provide penalties for anyone who defies a governor’s executive order. Although it has rarely been resorted to, a person may be fined up to $500, sentenced to up to six months in jail, or both.
The mayor said he does not want it to come to that, but may consider issuing courtesy tickets to offenders as a compromise if people do not cooperate willingly and continue to flout the governor’s order.
The current governor’s executive order expires Dec. 11 but the mayor said he thinks it likely Reeves will have to extend it.
Governor Reeves’ indecision frustrating medical experts: https://www.nemiss.news/frustration-grows-lack-decisive-action-from-reeves/compliance, enforcement, executive order, mask, New Albany, Northeast Mississippi, social gathering, Union County