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Adams County officials to lift mask mandate on May 1

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors on Monday voted to rescind the county’s mask mandate but continue holding gathering restrictions at county owned facilities effective May 1.

The mandate was set to expire on April 30. After May 1, county-owned facilities such as community centers and parks will be back open and restricted to 50 percent capacity indoors and 500 or fewer people outdoors.

During Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford said Mississippi State Department of Health data shows fewer residents of Adams County have been vaccinated than the desired goal 15,000 residents discussed in previous meetings.

Last month, Bradford said approximately 11,000 people had been vaccinated for COVID-19 in Adams County. However, Bradford said he could not identify whether or not the people that were vaccinated are Adams County residents.

“They did go ahead and shore up the list and now it is 9,139 residents currently vaccinated,” Bradford said Monday. “Some are waiting on the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine but due to ongoing investigation the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is currently on hold.”

Bradford guessed there are approximately 30 active COVID-19 cases in the county, however, exact numbers are no longer being provided by MSDH, he said.

One county resident has tested positive of the United Kingdom COVID-19 variant strand, Bradford said.

“Data is the most important thing we can go by right now,” he said. “We have to be able to project ourselves and everyone else around us. With something like this, you have to ease into lifting restrictions. You don’t want to lift the mask mandate and not give law enforcement the authority to break up large gatherings.”

Bradford gave the Board of Supervisors two recommendations: one to retire the mask mandate after May 1 and still hold gathering restrictions and one to extend the county’s current mandate until June 1.

“The reason we are where we are now is because of the mask mandate,” Bradford said. “I think it has been working and we’re only asking for 45 more days and that will be the end of it.”

Supervisor Wes Middleton offered a motion to revert back to following Gov. Tate Reeve’s executive orders pertaining to COVID-19.

“We’re never going to reach the 15,000 vaccinated, unfortunately. Everyone in here has been vaccinated and the line is getting shorter and shorter,” Middleton said.

Warren Gaines seconded Middleton’s motion but after Board President Angela Hutchins suggested following Bradford’s recommendation to hold the mandate until May 1, he moved to amend the motion to do just that. Middleton accepted it as a friendly amendment and the motion passed 4-1 with Supervisor Ricky Gray voting “nay.”

“Most who don’t want to wear masks don’t wear them anyway,” Gaines said. “The ones who want to wear them are going to put them on regardless of what we do.”

Gray said lifting the mask mandate is “a big mistake.”

“Mutations are on the rise. Our kids are not vaccinated and we’ve got people coming here from all over the world,” Gray said. “The worst mistake we can make is not protect the people of Adams County. … We need to follow what the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says and what Dr. (Thomas) Dobbs says, not what the governor of Mississippi says because he is not a doctor.”

Adams County Correctional Facility Warden Shawn Gillis told supervisors that 52 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement inmates housed at the Adams County were COVID-19 positive as of Monday.

Gillis said all positive inmates are being isolated from other inmates and new inmates are kept isolated for 14 days upon their arrival.

“We have a large facility and we’re able to keep them separated,” Gillis said. “Right now we only have one staff case and they actually got it from a family member. … We’re doing everything we can to keep everyone as safe as possible.”

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