Adams County Supervisor’s motion for mask mandate fails a second time

Published 5:47 pm Monday, August 9, 2021

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NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors would still not vote on a mask mandate for the inside of county buildings on Monday, even after urging from county department heads for them to do so.

Just as he did last Monday, Supervisor Ricky Gray made the motion once again to implement a mask mandate and his motion failed after no other supervisors would second it.

Gray’s motion on Monday came after Raven Campbell Smith, a county-employed nurse practitioner, urged supervisors to reconsider their decision from last week.

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Smith said she was in a meeting Thursday with the head of each department and each of them expressed that their employees felt unsafe working because anyone could walk in unmasked and cause them to get COVID-19.

“I’m here representing everyone,” she said. “After speaking with the department heads, we ask that you reconsider. Across the board, we had only one department who did not show up (to the meeting).”

When no one would second Gray’s motion, Smith asked the board, “Why are you so against it?”

Supervisor Kevin Wilson said masks do not work and that everyone should get vaccinated.

“We know this stuff is spreading like chicken pox and basically the masks aren’t going to help,” he said. “You (Smith) have pretty much admitted that and I’ve talked to several doctors and ER nurses who say they’re very ineffective at this point.”

On the contrary, Smith said masks work in concert with other prevention methods, including getting vaccinated and social distancing.

“With the mask, it does give you some protection. If I cough without a mask (there would be) more droplets than (if I were wearing) a mask,” she said.

Gray questioned why other members of the board would not follow CDC guidelines, which say that everyone should wear masks while indoors in high-risk areas whether they are vaccinated or not.

“Everybody has their own reason for doing things but we had two employees die from COVID,” he said. “If any county in Mississippi needs to follow the guidelines, we need to follow the guidelines.”

Other supervisors said the reason they would not vote for a mask mandate is because they last time there was a mandate in place the employees themselves weren’t wearing them.

“Back when we had the mandate, I walked to every department and they were not wearing masks,” Board President Angela Hutchins said.

Supervisor Wes Middleton agreed.

“I got phone calls daily from residents who were using services at our courthouse who either were not let in or they were hounded until they put a mask on and they would come in and our employees were not wearing masks. I don’t want to go through those phone calls again,” he said.

Supervisor Warren Gaines said everyone has a “personal responsibility” to wear a mask. He asked repeatedly, “If we mandate it, what are the consequences going to be for people who break it?” to which he never got an answer.

Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford said the proposed mask mandate wouldn’t be for the entire county as the first one was but would only exist to protect people and employees at county facilities.

“The mandate isn’t there to scare people or anything like that,” he said. “You want to protect your government facilities, the employees and the people. We have the vaccine, but this is a different strain that is more contagious than the first. … We’ve got to be proactive to help our employees stay working.”