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City’s COVID-19 emergency orders, mask mandate extended to April

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said Friday he is extending the city’s COVID-19 emergency order to April 1.

Flaggs announced the extension at his third annual Economic Development Update Friday at St. Aloysius High School. The emergency order includes a mask mandate and outlines procedures for restaurants and businesses to follow.

“I think wearing the masks, practicing social distancing, sanitizing, everything we’ve got in place is working,” he said. “The numbers are coming down, and what better time to continue doing what we’re doing. I think folks are comfortable with what we’re doing now; we’ve got 94 percent compliance and so we want to keep it going.”

The extension comes at a time when Vicksburg and Warren County are starting to see the surge in cases brought about by the holidays finally weaken. Over the past week, the number of daily average cases has fallen by nearly a third.

As of Saturday, Warren County was averaging 21.2 cases per day for the last two weeks. That is a vast improvement over last week when the two-week average was more than 30 new cases per day.

In its report Saturday, the Mississippi State Department of Health announced 21 new cases in Warren County, pushing the number of cases reported in the first week of February to 84. By comparison, the first six days of January saw 254 cases.

The announcement also comes after the first week of operations at the COVID-19 drive-thru vaccination site, where nearly 1,200 doses were administered. The site will continue for at least two more weeks, where a reported 2,400 appointments have already been booked up.

Since the first case was reported on March 29, Warren County has now reported 3,972 cases and 110 virus-related deaths.

“I want to save lives first, I want to mitigate the spread of the disease and if takes another year wearing masks or practicing social distancing, we’ll do it,” Flaggs said. “What I want to do is keep what’s working.”

COVID-19 had a serious effect on Vicksburg and local businesses, forcing them to reduce hours or close down for several months. The effect on business was felt by the city budget, which saw sales tax revenue decline during the early months of the virus.

Flaggs said the city’s economy is beginning to improve, citing higher sales tax revenue caused by more residents buying locally.

“People are staying at home, they’re buying locally and doing everything we’re asking them to do and that’s why it’s working,” he said. “The numbers are in and I see people supporting Vicksburg first and that’s good. So let’s keep on what we’re doing and if I had to do it all over again I’d do it the same way.”

During their regular meeting on Feb. 1, the Warren County Board of Supervisors voted to extend the county’s COVID-19 emergency orders and mask mandate through March 1.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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