A case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Yazoo County by the Mississippi State Department of Health Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 50 as of press time.
The first death from COVID-19 in Mississippi was also reported on Thursday. The victim was a man from Hancock County in his 60s.
Along with Yazoo County, the state also reported 15 new cases in 11 other counties Thursday morning. This is the first coronavirus case confirmed in Yazoo County.
“At this time, we ask that the public do not panic,” said Jack Willingham, director of the Yazoo County Emergency Management Agency. “We will get through this pandemic. Just bear with us at this time as we work through this.”
As news of the confirmed case circulated through the community, a number of announcements were released concerning school closures and other preventive methods being implemented throughout the area.
City Enacts Emergency Order
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved an emergency proclamation during a special meeting Thursday following the state’s announcement. The orders shall remain in effect through April 1.
The city council’s proclamation prohibits gatherings of more than ten people and limits the gathering of ten people of fewer. The proclamation also states that all bars, nightclubs and event centers located within the city of Yazoo City must close. City restaurants may only provide take-out, delivery or drive-thru services. There shall be no dining or available sitting areas within those restaurants.
Other public functions, including fundraisers, sporting events and other civic events, are also prohibited.
The city’s proclamation also states that “to the extent allowed by state and federal law and the United States Constitution, the proclamation prohibiting and limiting events is applicable to spiritual and faith-based gatherings.” Many churches within the community have already suspended their services in the midst of the pandemic, preferring to holding on-line services.
The city’s proclamation also states that violations of the emergency order are subject to misdemeanor prosecution.
Public Buildings Closing
The city has closed the Triangle Cultural Center, and Glenwood Cemetery for gatherings of over 10. All of the city’s parks remain closed. Fire marshal inspections and smoke alarm inspections have also been canceled.
Joffre Washington, president of the Yazoo Fair & Civic League, announced that the L.T. Miller Community Center is closed until further notice and all scheduled events have been canceled.
County Offices Closed Monday
Yazoo County government offices will be closed on Monday, but as of press time were scheduled to reopen on Tuesday.
Cobie Collins, president of the Yazoo County Board of Supervisors said the county is working on plans to respond to the pandemic. He said the county is working to establish the drive through window at the former BankPlus building across from the Courthouse as a location where residents can pay for car tags and taxes without leaving their vehicles.
“We’re also open to any suggestions if anyone has any good ideas about how we can improve our response,” Collins said. “This is something new for us, and we want to do everything we can to protect our people.”
Public schools within the state will be closed until April 17, said Gov. Tate Reeves.
“That will give us a four-week period to evaluate the further effects of this particular virus,” Reeves said. “This is not a decision that I take lightly. In fact, in my nearly 17 years of serving the public, it is perhaps the hardest decision I have ever had to make.”
Reeves said he would relax end-of-the-year testing and accountability measures. He also added school districts will still get paid formula money to ensure no disruption of cash flow, and teachers will still receive get paid their annual salaries on time.
“This is not a time to take a vacation,” Reeves continued. “This is not a time to spend eight to ten hours a day outside shooting basketball; although a couple of hours will be just fine. This is a time to continue learning.”
Reeves said officials are currently researching ways to implement online and distance learning and supply deliveries within public schools.
“This is not a time for us to panic,” Reeves said. “We are in unprecedented, uncharted waters. But we will get through it because we are Mississippians. We are resilient. We are dedicated to get through it.”
Within Yazoo City schools, according to the Mississippi Achievement School District, “district officials will be communicating our plan for continuing support for student learning and student well being by Friday, March 20.” That announcement was not available by press time.
The same announcement for Friday, March 20, was also unavailable from the Yazoo County School District as of press time. The district said it was continuing to work on plans to “provide online/distance learning options for students.”
Local private schools were taking their studies on a week-by-week basis, including assignment pick-up, as future plans were being discussed with the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools as of press time.