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Flaggs: COVID-19 orders are working, virus numbers declining

For the first time since Dec. 13, Warren County is below the threshold to be considered a COVID-19 hot spot in Mississippi, Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said.

During a press conference Friday updating the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Flaggs said the county’s new COVID-19 numbers from the Mississippi State Department of Health indicate the success of the measures taken through the emergency order, which was extended Wednesday through April 1.

“It’s working,” he said of the order. When compliance officer Tabitha Martin-Crawford goes into a business, he said, “They are compliant. We have a rate of 94 percent compliance. We are compliant in Vicksburg and the evidence is in the lower numbers.”

The Mississippi State Department of Health and Gov. Tate Reeves have said that any county that records 200 or more new cases, or a ratio of 500 new cases per 100,000 residents, could be considered a virus hot spot. Warren County has been above both thresholds since Dec. 3.

“As of today, we saw an average of 13.93 new cases per day for the past 14 days and 11.86 per day for the last seven days,” he said. “I call on the governor of the state to remove us from the list if we can go through the weekend lowering these numbers.”

Flaggs urged people to continue wearing masks if they cannot practice social distancing, adding, “It’s working. I applaud the people of Vicksburg.”

He said the city’s employees have followed COVID-19 precautions, calling their work “absolutely phenomenal.” Flaggs reported that out of the city’s 417 employees, only 53 cases have been confirmed.

Flaggs said, however, the employees will have to go through a temperature screening when they return from the Valentine’s Day weekend. “These are precautions to protect our employees,” he said.

The mayor also said residents’ response to getting vaccinated for COVID-19 has been very good. Even with Friday’s scheduled vaccination appointments rescheduled to Feb. 19 due to inclement weather, the drive-thru site at Uptown Vicksburg, which is managed by the Mississippi State Department of Health, but staffed primarily with local healthcare volunteers, has administered approximately 2,000 doses. 

“I’ve never been so proud of Warren County and Vicksburg, I’ve never been so proud of my understanding of being able to understand and collaborate with the state as it relates to the distribution of the vaccine,” Flaggs said. “Let’s keep taking the vaccine and by all means let’s take it so our community will be reflected in these (state) numbers.”

The city’s COVID-19 civil emergency orders are set to expire April 1, while the orders put in place by the Warren County Board of Supervisors are set to expire March 1. Both the city’s and the county’s orders include a mask mandate.

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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