Supervisors vote again not to extend Adams County mask ordinance

Published 12:18 pm Monday, May 3, 2021

NATCHEZ — Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford recommended the Board of Supervisors extend Adams County’s mask mandate through May 31 during their regular meeting Monday. However, the motion to do so failed by a vote of 2-3.

The board’s previous resolution that requires masks to be worn in public expired on May 1.

Supervisor Ricky Gray made a motion to extend the mask mandate through May 31 in light of a high number of new COVID-19 cases being reported in Adams County in recent days.

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His motion was seconded by the board president Angela Hutchins and supervisors Warren Gaines, Kevin Wilson and Wes Middleton each voted no.

On Monday, the Mississippi State Department of Health had reported a total of 2,571 cases in the county since the start of the pandemic last year. Approximately 98 new cases have been reported since Wednesday last week, including 32, new cases reported Wednesday, 31 new cases Thursday, and 31 new cases Friday.

Officials said Monday at least 58 of those cases reported are part of an outbreak at the Adams County Correctional Facility.

Bradford said the emergency management office no longer receives contact tracing statistics from the state to help determine where the cases are located to control outbreaks apart from the information that is publicly posted on the health department’s website.

“Our office has no visibility or assurance that we know where these cases are,” he said. “Meanwhile, our vaccinations are going down.”

Gray, who initially voted to keep the mandate in place until June during a meeting last month, said doing away with the mask mandate was a mistake.

“As an elected official, it is my job to do what is best to protect the people of Adams County,” he said. “We’ve got so many people walking around with COVID not getting tested. I’d rather be cautious than sorry. If we don’t do something now, we’re going to be sorry.”

Hutchins said agrees with the recommendation of emergency management and Natchez physician Dr. Lee England, who told The Natchez Democrat last week that he supported extending the mask mandate until June.

Hutchins also said that prison employees and people traveling who have not been vaccinated could continue to spread COVID-19 in the county.

“I was talking with a nurse Saturday and she begged to let (the mask mandate) stay on another month,” Hutchins said.

Gaines said a mask mandate was not enough to make people wear masks and said “the people who are responsible” will either get vaccinated or continue wearing masks.

“I strongly recommend that people wear masks in public,” he said. “Just because you have a mask mandate, that doesn’t mean people are going to wear them. Us putting a mask mandate in place is not going to make people wear them.”

Before voting against the extension of the mask mandate, Wilson encouraged more people to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

“I don’t know why there is such a large group of people not getting vaccinated,” he said. “If you want to not get the vaccine and keep wearing a mask, that is up to you. The rest of us want to live our lives again.”