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Supervisors to purchase thousands of masks for public use

Warren County is moving ahead with a plan to purchase as many as 10,000 masks in the coming weeks to make sure anyone in the county who needs a mask, can have a mask.

During a work session Monday, the Warren County Board of Supervisors gave the authority to county purchasing agent Tonga Vinson to purchase disposable masks that would be made available at public county buildings and through the Warren County Emergency Management Agency.

Vinson said the masks would be purchased for a price estimated at $0.85 per mask; 10,000 masks would cost $8,500.

While the county would be spending the money to purchase the masks, it is expected the money could be reimbursed by federal or state agencies since it is part of the county’s response to the COVID-19 virus.

Warren County Emergency Management Agency Director John Elfer said he has seen the demand for masks over recent weeks level off, but thanks to a network of public and private sources and non-profit organizations, “anyone who has needed a mask, has received mask.”

District 3 Supervisor Shawn Jackson, who has asked for an allotment of the masks for her to distribute to some of her constituents, suggested the idea during last week’s called emergency meeting where the county extended the civil emergency orders through June 1.

Originally, there was an idea to purchase 50,000 masks, but that was scaled down after Elfer detailed the network of resources his office had been able to coordinate since the start of the pandemic, including bandanas made available through the United Way of West Central Mississippi and a network of volunteers in the state, called Masks for Mississippi, that is providing hand-sewn masks to individuals, first responders and frontline medical personnel throughout the state.

While Jackson was the lone supervisor to plan to use some of the masks purchased to give to her constituents, the majority of the board felt it was important to provide masks to those visiting county facilities, such as the courthouse, given the county’s current policy of urging residents to wear face coverings in public buildings.

The masks are not yet available, but Elfer said his office would work to notify the public of when they are available and the best route to get those masks. Elfer said he already has a distribution system in place when the masks are made available.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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