Wicker: Mississippi residents step up to help each other in time of need

Published 3:01 pm Monday, April 6, 2020

In the midst of an unprecedented global health and economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Mississippians from all walks of life have stepped up to meet the needs of our neighbors and communities. Each act, large and small, reminds us that we are all in this together.

I join all Mississippians in extending my heartfelt gratitude to the heroic first responders, health-care, and law enforcement professionals who have been on the front lines of this epidemic. Without their sacrifice, more people would be suffering.

We also owe a debt of gratitude to the grocery and retail workers who keep our store shelves stocked, the agricultural producers who provide a stable supply of food, and the truck drivers who transport vital goods where they are needed most.

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Businesses pivot to fight coronavirus

I have been pleased to see so many Mississippi businesses stepping up and serving our communities in new and creative ways.

For example, C Spire has partnered with the University of Mississippi Medical Center to provide free telehealth visits for Mississippians who have coronavirus symptoms. This service allows patients to consult with health-care providers online without leaving home.

With restaurants and cafes closing their dining rooms, many are now offering contact-free delivery and pick-up options to customers. And while schools remain shut down, some restaurants are stepping forward to ensure no child goes hungry. Establishments like Vowell’s Marketplace and The Village Kitchen 219 in Jackson are offering hundreds of students free meals for the duration of the crisis, even as many public schools continue providing meals to students who are learning from home.

Extra Table, a food charity in Hattiesburg, is distributing excess inventory from restaurants and casinos to food banks across Mississippi. Extra Table’s business partners are matching up to $20,000 in donations as part of their #NowMoreThanEver campaign to feed needy residents during this pandemic.

Local news organizations are also pitching in, offering free access to their coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.

Because supplies of hand sanitizer are running low, distillers and brewers across our state are retooling their production lines to make alcohol-based hand and surface sanitizers. Kudos to Rich Grain Distilling, Lazy Magnolia Brewery, and Criddenden Distillery, along with Cathead Distillery, which is providing free hand sanitizer refills.

Several Mississippi companies are now producing medical supplies. Blue Delta Jeans Company in Tupelo recently shifted its sewing operations to create medical facemasks and gowns, with the goal of creating 10,000 masks each day. With vehicle production on hold, Nissan’s Canton plant is manufacturing face shields and headbands for medical workers. And Toyota workers in Blue Springs are sewing masks for local hospitals.

High school students in Gulfport are also helping to supply medical needs. Gulfport High School’s award-winning engineering and robotics program is producing masks for Gulfport Memorial Hospital using their 3D printing technology.


Keep it up, Mississippi

These are just a few of the many examples of sacrifice and service we have witnessed over the past few weeks. Seeing these and other Mississippians take care of their neighbors should be a source of pride for us all. Let us all keep up the good work, and do our part to help stop the spread of this virus.


U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker is the senior senator representing Mississippi in the United States Senate.