Effects of COVID felt in a variety of ways here

Published 3:30 pm Monday, January 10, 2022

NATCHEZ — The effects of the current COVID surge in Natchez is being felt in a number of different ways.

The dining room at Dairy Queen is back open now, but owner Tate Hobdy had to close it and offer service only through the Dairy Queen drive through for about three and a half days recently because a number of his staffers were out sick with COVID.

“We are still a little short staffed, but we are getting back to normal,” he said. “We are fortunate that no one got very sick.”

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Other fast food restaurants in Natchez have also been forced to operate with drive through service only, as well, because of staffing issues related to COVID.

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten reported Monday eight of his employees, including officers and administrators, as well as one inmate, have tested positive for COVID-19.

“The inmate has been isolated in a cell on a floor by himself and the employees are at home,” Patten said. “We do have a mask mandate in place at the Sheriff’s Office. Anyone who comes in is required to wear one.”

The sheriff said he is monitoring the situation closely and has told all employees, if they start to feel sick, they are to go home and arrange to be tested.

“The governor has moved to give state officers $1,000 in hazard pay because of COVID. I would like to see the same thing for local and municipal officers, who are on the front line of COVID every day,” Patten said.

Larry McManus, pharmacist at Ernst Pharmacy in Natchez, said he has seen an uptick in COVID testing and positive results from those tests.

“Since most people are vaccinated now, they are just not having quite as bad a time of it when they get COVID, it doesn’t seem,” McManus said. “I think sooner or later, everyone is going to come in contact with it. Regardless of what the rumors are or what you think about the vaccine, getting vaccinated does help prevent COVID and does lessen the effects of COVID if you get it.”

He said there is still time to get vaccinated for those who have not gotten the vaccine.

“We are giving lots of boosters now and a few are getting their first shots. It has slowed down some this week because so many people have been vaccinated already. Most of those who are going to get the vaccine have already done so. Others, they have decided they will just ride it out,” McManus said.

Dr. Christopher Martin, who along with Dr. Geoffrey Flattmann are credited with leading the COVID charge from its beginning through the Delta variant surge at Merit Health Natchez, said omicron seems to be much more contagious but symptoms less severe than variants that came before it.

“The virus is learning to spread easier, but is not as severe,” Martin said. “We all are hopeful that this is our last run. The Flu of 1918 had four big spikes, and this would be our fourth spike. We will never get rid of it, but as long as it’s not lethal, it’s something we are going to have to live with.”

Kay Ketchings, director of marketing at Merit Health Natchez, said as of Monday afternoon the hospital was treating five in-patients with COVID-19, none of whom have required care in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

“We are closely monitoring current and projected COVID-19 cases in our community and region and are prepared to respond if COVID-19 cases increase,” Ketchings said.

“We encourage community members to remain diligent in hand washing, social distancing, masking in congested areas, and to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccination remains the best strategy for reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

“It’s important for members of our community to put their health first and anyone needing medical care should make an appointment with their primary care provider or if it is an emergency, go to the hospital.”