• 70°

Adams County mask mandate extended through October

NATCHEZ — Officials have extended the Adams County mask mandate through Oct. 31 while a statewide mandate is still in effect.

Adams County Coroner James Lee said an 80-year-old woman from Natchez died with COVID-19 on Tuesday at Merit Health Natchez.

Adams County had 83 active COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford said in a Tuesday meeting of the Adams County Board of Supervisors.

Bradford said 55 of those cases were among members of the general public while the remaining known cases are isolated in the Adams County Correctional Facility or in Merit Health Natchez hospital.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement website reported 32 active cases among detainees at the Adams County Correctional Facility on Tuesday with a total of 74 cases reported in the facility since the pandemic began in March.

“Our numbers are still high so we want to continue mask-wearing and social distancing,” Bradford said.

District 1 Supervisor Wes Middleton asked why Adams County continues to extend its mask mandate beyond Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves’ executive orders.

A statewide mask mandate issued Aug. 31 is still in effect at least for another week unless it is extended further.

“If the governor is doing it every two weeks, why are we doing it every seven or six weeks?” Middleton said. “It seems a bit long.”

Bradford said it’s important for the county to stay ahead of the state mandate so as not to confuse the public.

“We’re being proactive instead of reactive,” said Ricky Gray, district 4 supervisor.

The motion to extend the mandate passed unanimously.

In other matters during Tuesday’s meeting of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, the board:

* Heard a presentation from Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ seeking the county’s support of a remote worker incentive program that would award up to $6,000 to employees who are not tied to a specific location.

“Our strategy is to go after some of those employees and convince them to work remotely from Adams County rather than some other metropolitan area,” Russ said.

The incentive program will help set Adams County apart from the 20 or so other communities scattered across the U.S. with similar incentive programs in place, he said. Russ asked supervisors to take time to consider the program and perhaps adopt it at a later board meeting.

* Heard a request for a $1.25 per hour pay raise for 11 jail employees of Adams County Sheriff’s Office from Sheriff Travis Patten.

Patten said the jail workers are some of the lowest-paid employees but have an increased workload due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Supervisor Ricky Gray said the board would consider giving the raises and no actions were taken to that effect.

* Approved the signing of a Brownfield grant application offered through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The grant is cosigned by the City of Natchez and FOR Natchez for developing the Natchez downtown area.

James Johnston, the City of Natchez community development director, said officials could apply for no more than $600,000 with the grant with no local match required from the city or the county.