Mayor Chuck Espy and Board of Supervisors President Johnny Newson have ordered a city-wide shutdown in the wake of the coronavirus being reported in Coahoma County.
In a sweeping move, Espy said there will be no gatherings of more than 10 people in the city, his statement was echoed by Newson for the county.
“As of noon Thursday we are going to implement social distancing, the washing of hands and not allow gatherings of more than 10 people in one location,” said Espy. “That includes all spectrums, we’re talking about weddings, we’re talking about funerals and church gatherings."
Espy went on to say he was not asking any business to close, but they should start some kind of delivery service or curbside service that prevents more than 10 people in any one spot.
A proclamation issued by the city said this decision will be reviewed every 30 days. Espy said at the meeting the city and county would be updating it every two weeks and the emergency proclamation would last 45 days unless amended.
Espy said the city and county’s decision was based on guidelines from state and federal authorities.
Espy was vague when questioned about who would enforce this ban and what the penalty might be for failure to comply.
“We are asking the citizens to do their part,” said Espy. “Like the President of the United States said, we must do our part, and (Clarksdale) must do our part to keep everyone else safe.”
With Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center Administrator Joel Southern in the room, Espy said those who think they may have the virus are being asked to contact their healthcare provider or doctor and not show up at the hospital. Espy said the hospital did have kits to test patients for the virus.
“Call your doctor first, we are not suggesting you rush to the hospital,” said Espy. “Call your doctor first and they will tell you how to proceed.”
Johnny Tarzi, Coahoma County Emergency Management director, said there had been two confirmed cased of coronavirus reported in Coahoma County.
“At this time we have two confirmed cases in Coahoma County,” said Tarzi. “One has been transported out and the other is self contained.”
As of noon Thursday, there have been no new cases of coronavirus confirmed in Coahoma County by the state.
The Coahoma County Health Department said Thursday they are not testing the public for the disease. The office is only open on Monday, Tuesday and Friday by appointment only.
Tarzi said the public can visit the Mississippi State Health Department website at msdh.ms.gov for information on the disease from the state and the U.S. Center for Disease Control at cdc.gov.
Tarzi said CCEM was getting regular updates from both the state and federal authorities and he urged people to remain calm and use good personal hygiene.
Newson said MSHD will update the coronavirus count in Coahoma County at 11 a.m. each day. He urged people to stay informed using reliable news and government information sources and that local hospitals, ambulance and healthcare providers stand ready to help those who are truly sick.
“We don’t want people to panic and there is no panic,” said Newson. “We do want people to wash their hands, stay home and keep social distance.”
Wednesday’s announcement was delivered in the main courtroom at the Coahoma County Courthouse with the following 19 department heads and agencies in attendance: Mayor Espy, Supervisor Newson, Commissioner Ken Murphey, Commissioner Willie Turner, Supervisor Pat Davis, Supervisor Roosevelt Lee, Supervisor Derrell Washington, Sheriff Charles Jones, Police Chief Sandra Williams, Fire Chief Rocky Nabors, County Fire Chief Randy Murray, EMA director Tarzi, Chancery Clerk Carolyn Parham, Circuit Clerk Demetria Jackson, Tax Collector Ann Williams, Road Manager Otis Griffin, Sheriff’s Information officer Will Rooker, City Personnel Director Tara Slack, City Executive Assistant Stephanie Davis and NMRMC administrator Joel Southern.
Persons with questions for the city can call 662-621-8164. Persons with questions for the county can call 662-624-3028.