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City, county leaders urge residents to not let up as mask orders extended

The requirement to wear a mask or other face covering in public buildings and areas where social distancing is not possible has been extended until after the first of the year in Warren County.

Monday, supervisors voted to extend the county’s mask mandate and existing social distancing measures to at least Jan. 4, 2021. The move comes just days after Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. announced the city’s mask mandate, social distancing measures and other existing civil emergency orders were being extended through at least Dec. 2.

The mask mandates, along with social distancing measures, have been credited so far with being the most effective tools in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“I think the need for masks is something that we will see for a long time. And it works if people will use the advice from the Centers for Disease Control and good common sense,” Warren County Emergency Management Agency Director John Elfer said after the decision by the supervisors. “It’s no different than stopping any other disease. You have to be careful, you have to take precautions. And I think this community understands that. We have done a lot better than some.”

Monday, the Mississippi State Department of Health announced no new COVID-19 cases in Warren County. Overall, the county has reported 1,583 cases and 56 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began. The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Warren County on March 29. The first virus-related death in Warren County was reported on April 6.

Elfer and his team at the EMA have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic from day one, leading the efforts to provide masks and other personal protective equipment to residents, organizations and healthcare facilities.

He estimates that since the outbreak began in late March, his office has coordinated the delivery of more than 75,000 masks and additional PPE. The local emergency management office has also facilitated the delivery of materials from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to local outlets, as well as local schools.

“We have provided the local schools a lot of the PPE they have needed and are using,” Elfer said.

And with the pandemic in Mississippi approaching eight months in duration, Elfer said he has started to see the need for masks and PPE leveling off.

“When it started no one had anything. We were the only shop in town. Once the supply has started catching up, it has started to level off,” he said. “Don’t think it’s over. People do not need to get complacent.”

That sentiment was backed up by the city of Vicksburg’s compliance officer Tabitha Martin-Crawford.

“I know that people are getting tired of COVID,” she said. “But COVID is not getting tired of us. We cannot let up now.”

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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