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City’s mask mandate to be extended through at least Dec. 2

Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. made official what he had alluded to for weeks Friday when he said the city’s mask mandate will continue through at least Dec. 2.

Flaggs said the mandate has been the most effective tool thus far in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“According to all the medical experts I have talked with, and all that I have read, wearing masks is making a difference,” Flaggs said. “It makes no sense to stop utilizing the masks when we know for a fact that it is working in Vicksburg. Look at our numbers.”

At a time when new COVID-19 cases have been on the rise in Mississippi, forcing Gov. Tate Reeves and state medical officials to impose more restrictions on a number of targeted counties, Warren County has stood out. Numbers over the past two weeks have remained low, and as of Friday the county has reported an average of just 4.2 cases per day in that span.

The two-week totals and averages are the key factors state health officials have used in targeting counties as potential hot spots. Reeves recently said those counties that have reported 200 new cases over a two-week period or have a new case rate of more than 500 per 100,000 residents could be considered hot spots.

Warren County over the past two weeks has reported 60 cases and has a ratio of 123 cases per 100,000 residents.

Flaggs gave credit to Vicksburg’s residents, as well as the mask mandate and other measures included in the city’s civil emergency order, as working in conjunction to curtail the spread of the virus.

“The participation of our people in the community has been fantastic. They are doing what they are supposed to be doing,” he said. “I could not have asked for a better city, better cooperation, and that is why I believe we are a model for the rest of the state.”

In addition to extending the mask mandate through at least Dec. 2, Flaggs also said many of the existing orders will also continue.

The mask mandate will continue to require anyone entering a business or public building, or where social distancing is not possible, to wear a mask.

Retail businesses and restaurants can continue to operate at 100 percent of capacity if social distancing can be maintained. Bars, too, can operate at 100 percent of capacity but must stop serving alcohol by 11 p.m. and close by midnight. They also must continue to serve only those who are seated and tables are limited to 10 people.

Gyms and fitness centers must still require face coverings and operate at no more than 75 percent of capacity. Movie theaters are allowed — and encouraged — to operate with no more than 75 percent capacity.

In those cases, hand sanitizer must be available at entrances and exits.

Dance studios, libraries, museums, indoor and outdoor recreation facilities and places of amusement must require masks and can operate at 100 percent of capacity if social distancing can be maintained.

Reception halls and convention centers can return to 100 percent capacity as long as social distancing can be maintained. For seated meals, there should be at least six feet between tables and a maximum of 10 people per table.

The city is encouraging funerals to be held graveside, but they may be held at a church or funeral home at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. The City Auditorium is also available to accommodate funeral services.

If those services are for someone who died as a result of COVID-19, the auditorium can be used for “one-half of the regular auditorium fee.”

The juvenile curfew will remain in place. That curfew begins each evening at 7:30 p.m. and continues through 7:30 a.m.

The special law enforcement task force, which increases the number of department personnel beginning each Thursday at 7 p.m. and continuing through Monday at 7 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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