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Vicksburg, Warren County expected to extend mask mandates at least another month

A day after Gov. Tate Reeves announced the state’s mask mandate was allowed to expire, Vicksburg and Warren County officials said local mask mandates are still in effect and likely to be extended.

Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr., who has planned a Friday press conference to announce a number of changes to the city’s COVID-19 restrictions — likely easing many of them — said Thursday that the mask mandate will remain.

“I respect the governor’s decision, but it is incumbent on me to manage the city, not the state,” Flaggs said. “The mask mandate will continue, likely for at least another month.”

Dr. Jeff Holland, president of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, said the board is set to decide Monday on the county’s restrictions and orders, but said the county extending its mask order another month is “the likely scenario.”

“The city and county are trying to stay in lockstep in that regard,” Holland said. “Our county attorney (Blake Teller) is going through the remainder of our existing resolution to see how it connects to the governor’s most recent executive order, but that analysis is incomplete at this point. But, the continuation of the mask mandate is by far the most important part.”

Both the city and county’s mask mandate requires anyone in a public building or business to wear a mask, and it also requires masks be worn when social distancing measures are not possible.

The city’s mask mandate went into effect initially on July 18, with the county’s mask mandate going into effect on July 20. At the time, the county was close to being declared a virus hot spot by state health officials, with daily new cases averaging between 12 and 15 per day. 

Since then, both the city and the county have extended their mask mandates through Oct. 5. Also since then, the number of new cases in Warren County has plummeted to just three per day over the last seven days.

“You can infer that wearing masks has helped the process given that our numbers have gone down significantly from just a couple of months ago,” Holland said. 

Flaggs said mask mandates have been a successful component to driving down local case numbers and allowing for additional easing and elimination of other restrictions.

“I have not seen anything yet that suggests to me that wearing masks and practicing social distancing has not helped mitigate the spread of the virus. In fact, I think, they are reducing the number of cases per day,” Flaggs said.

Flaggs also said the approaching cold and flu season is another reason why he is a strong proponent of continuing the mask mandates.

Flaggs is set to announce the extension of the mask mandate, as well as other changes to the city’s COVID-19 orders, during a press conference Friday at 2:30 p.m. That press conference can be seen live at The Vicksburg Post’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thevicksburgpost.

The county’s emergency orders will be a topic discussed during the board’s regular meeting scheduled for Monday at 9 a.m.

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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