City and county leaders have built a strong partnership in their fight against COVID-19

Published 2:37 pm Wednesday, December 9, 2020

From day one, local leaders — those on the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Warren County Board of Supervisors — have been unified in their approach to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

From day one, leaders at the city and county level have communicated and worked in concert with one another to give a single message to avoid confusion and frustration among residents.

Even when the message and decision have been met with contempt and strong disagreement by the public, local leaders have stood strong in the belief that the measures they are taking are done with the public’s health in mind and made with the best advice and information available.

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From day one, local leaders have consulted local medical officials, gotten their advice, took their recommendations and put their suggestions into action. Almost weekly, leaders have taken part in conference calls where the number of new cases, the surge in testing, the number of virus-related deaths, and more, are taken into strong consideration before action is taken.

In the first few press conferences, held in mid-March as the local pandemic was in its infancy, local leaders stood side-by-side with health experts as information was passed on, questions were asked and initial actions announced. Even though those press conferences have grown more scarce, and the number of those participating has grown fewer, the cooperation between government officials and medical experts has only grown stronger.

Long before the city and county issued mask mandates days apart from one another, local medical officials were calling for such action. Warren County was among the first in the state to have municipal and county leaders join together in issuing such mandates. And, more important, those leaders have continued the mandates long after state lawmakers allowed a crucial statewide order to expire.

Earlier this week, the Board of Supervisors were asked if they wanted to expand their current and long-standing COVID-19 emergency orders to require masks to be worn outside when social distancing was not an option. They declined to do so not because they did not feel residents should wear masks when they are in close proximity to others outdoors, but they felt their current orders covered such.

Even though one supervisor felt the city was overreaching in its new orders, it does not mean the board as a whole does, nor did it mean the board’s leadership did. It was one person’s opinion, said in public and reported as such.

The city and county have not always worked well together. That has been well-documented and part of the reason why so many members of the former Board of Supervisors are now former supervisors.

For anything to get done in Warren County, especially a successful fight against this virus, city and county leaders must work together, communicate and take actions that benefit all involved. Warren County does not succeed if Vicksburg does not, and the opposite is also true.

Yes, there are differences between the civil emergency orders put in place by the city and the county. But what they share is a common mission, built on strong science, strong data and a goal of protecting the lives of those who call Vicksburg and Warren County home.

One voice of dissent is just that — one. It is not nearly enough to unravel what has been a successful partnership thus far.