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Getting back into a new normal under COVID-19

The Turning Angel statue is back on its pedestal in the Natchez City Cemetery and its wings are mostly reattached.

The iconic statue was knocked off its pedestal in an act of vandalism in June, a suspect was arrested shortly thereafter and restoration work finally began on the statue last weekend.

City leaders have announced that a new business expected to employ 200 people is planning to move into downtown Natchez.

A project to transform the old train depot on the Natchez bluff into a restaurant is back on track and the plan includes several improvements to the Broadway Street area along the bluff.

Football season is underway, at least for the private schools in Adams County, and Natchez High School football kicks off this Friday.

As the public schools’ Sept. 9  opening date looms, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has loosened restrictions on stadium capacities from two spectators per participant in high school sporting events to a simple 25% of stadiums’ capacities.

Natchez Adams School District schools begin fall sessions next Wednesday after Labor Day, which is Monday.

Life is somewhat returning to normal, albeit a new normal, in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in which we are learning to live with the restrictions in place ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March.

Many NASD students will attend classes virtually this fall and other students will attend in-person classes two days per week on alternating schedules to limit class sizes and help reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19.

For the most part large group gatherings such as in theaters and other venues are still limited, and many people are social distancing and limiting their outings to cut their risks of spreading or contracting COVID-19.

Mask wearing is waning, however, according to Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson, who is in the middle of a 14-day quarantine after being exposed to someone who later tested positive for COVID-19.

Gibson said he is getting reports from people saying many stores and businesses are not requiring customers to wear facial coverings and some businesses’ employees are not wearing facial coverings when they are not more than six feet away from customers.

Therefore, the city has launched a public service campaign to emphasize the importance of wearing masks.

We have made a lot of progress since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Our numbers went down for a while but as restrictions relaxed, numbers went back up culminating in a spike that included our county’s highest-ever one-day new infection rate of 25 new cases on Aug. 22.

Since then the numbers have been dropping. We should be careful as we go about relaxing restrictions this time.

It is up to each of us individually to practice social distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing facial coverings when in groups of people where social distancing is not possible.

Those rules are just a fact of our new normal lives, if we are ever going to shake this virus once and for all.

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 601-445-3540 or scott.hawkins@natchezdemocrat.com.