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EMA director: County, city need to get on same page

NATCHEZ — Natchez-Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford Sr. urged Adams County supervisors Friday morning to get city officials on the same page with the county when it comes to information about COVID-19.

Bradford heads up a combined city and county COVID-19 task force made up of city and county officials and community leaders while the city of Natchez has its own COVID-19 task force made up of community leaders from the medical and business sectors.

“I received a call from the (Mississippi Emergency Management Agency) director this morning,” Bradford told supervisors during the special-called supervisors meeting with only District 2 Supervisor Kevin Wilson, County Attorney Scott Slover and County Administrator Joe Murray attending in person and other supervisors, Bradford and others attending via teleconference. “I’m going to need some help from my supervisors, because when they put anything in The Democrat (newspaper) negative toward anything, that goes to the governor’s office.”

Bradford made reference to a story in Friday’s edition that quoted local Dr. Blane Mire telling Natchez aldermen in a Thursday meeting that with the number of suspected COVID-19 cases out he anticipates the hospital could become overwhelmed with patients. Mire also mentioned he believed supplies were limited, including ventilators, gloves and masks, etc.

Bradford said that information reached Gov. Tate Reeve’s office, which in turned reached out to MEMA director Gregory S. Michel.

Bradford said a MEMA director, whom he did not name, contacted him on Friday morning before the supervisors’ meeting.

“I have a great relationship with him,” Bradford said, adding the MEMA official told Bradford he knows the hospital is not short on supplies. “But he has to do his follow up, so if there is any way I can get the supervisors to talk to the aldermen there. We don’t need to be putting out anything negative about that because, keep in mind, this is a countrywide emergency. It is not just Adams County or Mississippi, it is across the country and supplies will be limited.”

Bradford said he believes negative information coming out of Adams County could affect emergency supplies coming to Adams County.

“They (supplies) will not always go to the most populated or heavy hit areas,” Bradford said, “but if we get on news outlets and start blasting that we are not getting supplies and stuff like that, that puts a bad taste in the upper echelon like we are not doing our jobs.”

Bradford asked supervisors to contact the board of aldermen and ask members not to discuss negative issues.

“If you start getting disdain with MEMA and stuff like that there you’ll start getting put toward the backburner,” Bradford said. “We’ve just got to have knowledge and understand how everything works. That is why everything should come from the EOC before anything gets put out because once you put it out there, you got to go on damage control and there is a lot of destruction . . . you just got to make sure everything is OK.”

District 4 Supervisor Ricky Gray, president of the board of supervisors, said he would work with aldermen to get everyone on the same messaging. Gray also said he would reach out to Natchez-Adams School District Superintendent to get someone from the school board to work with Bradford’s group.

Meanwhile, Merit Health Natchez officials said they are not low on supplies.

“We actively maintain our PPE inventory based on the number of patients in our care and we have sufficient inventory to tend to our patients,” Lance Boyd, Merit Health Natchez CEO wrote in a letter to the editor of The Natchez Democrat in Friday’s edition. “Our resources are being increased so we are prepared for the event of a surge in patients. We are preserving and conserving our PPE inventory in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.”