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City stay-at-home order extended amid COVID-19 outbreak

NATCHEZ — City of Natchez officials voted unanimously to extend the local stay-at-home order until April 30 as they wait for Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves to readdress his executive order to “shelter in place,” which expires April 20.

The City of Natchez order restricts local gatherings of people by closing some public spaces and requires businesses to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines pertaining to COVID-19.

A motion to extend the stay-at-home order through the rest of the month passed unanimously during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen, which was hosted via teleconference.

During the meeting, officials invited Dr. Blane Mire of Internal Medicine Associates to give his professional guidance on whether extending the order is necessary.

Mire said the number of COVID-19 cases in Adams County continues to rise at an alarming rate.

Out of his clinic, Mire said more than 170 people were tested for the COVID-19 virus with more than 20 people testing positive and several tests still pending results.

“We’re averaging about one or two positives a day over the last week and a half,” Mire said, adding from a national perspective the death toll continues to rise.

“As a county, interesting enough, we are doubling our daily numbers on average every four or five days. … We’ve had a total of five (COVID-19) deaths here at our hospital. We also tend to the surrounding areas.”

Mire said the hospital has approximately six people on ventilators, 10 to 15 people being treated who are presumably positive and continues to prepare for an uptick in patients.

“We may be over prepared, but that is OK. That is always a good thing,” he said. “… We’re dealing with a lot here in Natchez and I want to make sure everyone understands that we have not reached a plateau yet … The numbers are still going up and have not plateaued and even at a plateau the storm is not over. That just means that we see a slow, gradual decline in cases.”

In other matters during Tuesday’s meeting of the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen, the board:

  • Discussed providing hazardous duty pay increases to Natchez Police Department officers, firemen, public works and other employees who continue to provide necessary work in public and risk being exposed to the virus.
    Officials tasked city department heads with visiting their budgets and deciding whether there is room for additional payment to their employees and took no action to that effect.
  • Authorized Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong to purchase a second K-9 using approximately $5,500 funds raised by the community and $11,000 out of the departments’ budget. Armstrong said the department has one K-9, named Toon, who graduated from training last month. Toon was fully funded by a donation from a couple in Arkansas, Armstrong said and added that the department needs a second K-9 to work alternate shifts.
  • Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell advised the public that all of the city’s meetings that are hosted via teleconference during the pandemic remain open to the public and are recorded and posted on the city’s website. Instructions on how to attend meetings and recorded meetings can be found at www.natchez.ms.us.