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Natchez mayor declares state of emergency in city

NATCHEZ — Mayor Darryl Grennell on Sunday afternoon signed a proclamation declaring a local State of Emergency for the City of Natchez in response to the new coronavirus pandemic, which officially reached the State of Mississippi last week.

Grennell announced his intention to declare the state of emergency at a city department head meeting held by teleconference Sunday afternoon, after which he signed the proclamation, a press release states.

As a result of the Mayor’s proclamation, city buildings and city services will be affected as follows:

Effective noon Monday, March 16, the following city-owned buildings will be closed to the public until further notice:

  • The Natchez Visitors Center
  • The Natchez City Auditorium
  • The Natchez Community Center
  • Auburn Museum and Historic Home at Duncan Park
  • The Natchez Museum of African-American History and Culture

City Hall will not be closed to the public. The City will be operating with a reduced on-site staff. Some employees will be working remotely.

  • Absentee voting will continue in the City Clerk’s Office in City Hall. Contact 601-446-2425 if you have questions.
  • Permits for electrical inspections and other permits will continue to be issued as usual in the Office of City Planning on the second floor; however, these matters can also be handled efficiently online (please visit https://www.natchez.ms.us/143/Office-of-Inspections ) or by phone or email. Contact the City Planning Office at 601-445-7518.

Grennell’s actions follow Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves’s State of Emergency proclamation on Saturday and President Donald Trump’s declaration of a National State of Emergency on Friday.

“I reiterate my previous message to all citizens of Natchez and especially to all community leaders: I strongly urge everyone — individuals, schools, churches, civic and social organizations, businesses, and others — to forego group activities,” Grennell said in signing the proclamation. “I urge everyone to be mindful of the fact that this virus is spread through person-to-person contact. The only way we can reduce and slow the spread of this virus and flatten the curve of the infection rate and the resulting impact on our health care system is by limiting our exposure to one another.”

The following public facilities will remain open:

  • Duncan Park Golf and Pro Shop
  • Duncan Park Tennis Courts
  • Public parks and playgrounds

Regarding the Natchez Transit System and the Senior Citizens Multipurpose Center, Executive Director Sabrina Bartley will be announcing changes to those services in the coming week.

The following changes affect City meetings:

  • All City meetings will be conducted virtually and not in-person to the extent possible.
  • The regular Monday City Department Head Meeting (9 a.m.) is canceled in light of the fact that the Department Head Meeting was conducted by teleconference on Sunday.
  • The Coronavirus Preparedness Task Force will conduct its regular Monday 10 meeting via teleconference to continue coordination between leaders from state and local health departments, public school system, Natchez police, fire, senior care, local businesses and tourism.
  • The Natchez-Adams Economic Development Council will conduct its regular Monday 11 a.m. meeting via teleconference.

In a video PSA released by the City on Friday, Dr. Lee England, chairman of the local Coronavirus Preparedness Task Force, said the world is facing a pandemic disease that is unstoppable.

“We don’t have the vaccines and antivirals that we would like [but] we do know what to do to slow the spread of coronavirus and that is to not congregate in groups,” England said.

Robert Bradford, Natchez-Adams County Emergency Management Director, urges citizens to work together as a community to prevent the spread of the virus in Natchez Adams County.

“People should continue to monitor their surroundings, follow CDC guidelines, and stand by for further changes,” Bradford said.

As of the time of Sunday afternoon, there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Adams County. For more information on COVID-19, please visit CDC.gov/COVID19 or msdh.ms.gov/coronavirus or call the Mississippi Department of Health Coronavirus Hotline: 877-978-6453 (open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday)