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Supervisors extend Adams County mask mandate

NATCHEZ — On Monday, Adams County officials extended the local mask mandate until April 30 or until 15,000 or more Adams County residents have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Adams County Emergency management director Brad Bradford said the mandate was set to expire March 31 and needed to be renewed until the end of April or until at least 15,000 residents in Adams County have been vaccinated.

Bradford said approximately 10,000 residents have already received the COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday.

Bradford said the county Emergency Operations Center is currently tracking 14 known cases of the virus while the county has a 10 percent positivity rate.

“We’re looking at reaching a goal of 15,000 (vaccinated) before we lift the mask mandate,” he said.

Adams County Supervisor Ricky Gray made the motion to extend the mask mandate, which was seconded by board president Angela Hutchins.

Supervisors Wes Middleton and Kevin Wilson were opposed to extending the mandate and the motion passed 3-2 with supervisors Hutchins, Gray and Warren Gaines voting for it.

Middleton said he would like the county to instead “strongly urge” mask-wearing. Middleton also said law enforcement was not enforcing mask-wearing and “hasn’t from the beginning.”

Wilson said “people are ready to get back to their lives again” and those who do not want to wear masks are not doing so.

“What is the difference between ‘strongly urge’ and a mandate if it’s not being enforced?” Gaines said.

Bradford said a mandate does allow law enforcement to step in and break up large gatherings where masks are not being worn.

“With a recommendation, they can’t do that,” Bradford said.

Hutchins said even if individuals are not willing to wear masks, having a mandate helps.

“We just need to give it a little more time,” Hutchins said of the mandate. “Everyone that doesn’t want to wear the masks is not wearing them anyway but the mandate will help.”

Gov. Tate Reeves recently lifted the mandate from the State of Mississippi as a whole, however individual counties are able to set their own mandates as a precaution against the coronavirus.

Gray said Adams County needed to keep the mandate in place because of the large population of elderly in the community.

“Adams County is special because we’re a certified retirement town,” he said. “We’ve got to do what is best for the entire community. If we do anything differently, then we are going to have a lot of problems. (The mask mandate) shouldn’t be put on the businesspeople of the community. It should be on us.”

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