Yazoo City extended its emergency orders related to COVID-19 this week as Yazoo County recorded its seventh death reported to be related to the virus.
Masks will continue to be required inside all businesses and public buildings in the city, and the city’s 9 p.m. curfew remains in effect. All other restrictions enacted by the city remain in effect.
At press time, Yazoo County had 566 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and seven death reported to be related to COVID-19. Three of those deaths were inmates at the federal prison, and two were residents of a long term care facility. Over 100 of the cases reported by the state for Yazoo County involve inmates or staff members at the federal correctional complex. Twenty of those cases involve residents of long term care facilities.
Mayor Diane Delaware said that overall the city’s residents are doing a good job of taking precautions, but it’s important to remain cautious as cases continue to rise statewide.
“I see a lot of people wearing their masks and taking reasonable precautions,” Delaware said. “I’m very proud of that.”
Ward 3 Alderman Sir Johnathan Rucker said he doesn't support extending the city’s emergency orders and restrictions because he doesn't believe they are being enforced for everyone.
"That's where the confusion came in because at one time I talked about the country club, and they did go up there and tell them they couldn't open," Rucker said. "The only reason I'm bringing that up is because these orders have been on the books since March, but some people are getting away with avoiding them and some people are not. If we're not going to shut all of them down, we need shouldn't have these rules. I have said from the beginning that some people weren’t going to get treated fairly."
Delaware said that many drivers get away with speeding, but that doesn't mean speed limits should be abolished.
"There is no law that I'm aware of that is enforced 100 percent all of the time because our police can't be everywhere all of the time," Delaware said. "But we do ask our citizens to do their part and obey the law."
One Yazoo City business owner complained that she wasn’t aware of the city’s restrictions until her business was affected.
Rayna Clifton, owner of the C-squared Event Center in Yazoo City, said one of her employees was charged with disorderly conduct Saturday while the business was hosting an event.
“I wasn’t there so I don’t know everything that took place, but I do know that she was given a citation for violating the city ordinance,” Clifton said.
Clifton said she was unsure what the city ordinances are related to COVID-19.
“How do we know,” she asked. “I have not received anything in writing, by mail, email text or anything. I don’t know what the ordinances are. I have no problem following the rules, but I have to know what they are. I was told we were not supposed to be open, but I had no way of knowing that.”
Clifton said she kept her business closed during the statewide shelter-in-place order and reopened once it was lifted.
“I had a conversation with the police chief about it Saturday, and I was told to go to social media and look,” Clifton said. “All business owners are not on social media. I don’t live in Yazoo City so I don’t really read the newspaper from here. I need to have a way of knowing what’s going on in the city so I can operate my business.”
“We as citizens have a responsibility to know the law,” Delaware later said.
Delaware said that business owners should take the initiative to stay informed by reading the local newspaper or visiting the city’s website, where all of the city’s ordinances are listed and updated regularly.
Rucker said he wants the city to do a better job of enforcing the ordinances everywhere if the rules are going to continue to exist.
“I am sending a stern message out to our police department and everybody else,” Rucker said. “If we are not going to shut all of them down – parties, events or whatever – then we don’t need to have these rules on the books. We need to have some things in place for safety, but we need to make it fair. When people in this city see some people get away with things, they want to do it too. I’ve even seen an officer issue a citation, and later the same day that same officer was at a gathering. Things like that are going on, and we all need to be held to the same standard. We’re turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to some of these things.”