Board of Supervisors declare a local emergency; limit mass gatherings

Published 1:33 pm Monday, March 16, 2020

On Sunday, the Center for Disease Control issued new guidelines to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which discouraged any mass gatherings of more than 50 people. The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors agreed.

During their regular meeting on Monday, the Board adopted a proclamation which declared a local emergency in Lafayette County due to the statewide COVID-19 outbreak. As of Monday morning, 12 presumptive cases had been confirmed in Mississippi by the State Health Department.

Adopting the declaration allows the County to have access to resources that will help combat the spread of COVID-19. During an executive session the Board also approved an additional proclamation limiting mass gatherings of 50 people or more throughout the County through March 31.

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Board President Mike Roberts also encouraged residents to use the County’s online resources to help with the social distancing mandate from the U.S. Government.

“The best way to slow this down is personal contact,” Roberts said. “Quarantine issues and all that stuff you hear about, we can slow all this down by using the mail online services, drive through and all that…”

The Board also adopted a personnel policy and will go by a “case by case” basis when it comes to re-evaluating personal leave time with County employees who might be experiencing illness or dependent childcare needs.

A no travel policy for County employees was also adopted by the Board. All proclamations adopted during Monday’s meeting are enacted through March 31.

Until the COVID-19 threat has passed, the Board is also meeting once a week to discuss the current status of the County and its needs.

The Lafayette County Detention Center has also altered its visitors policy and changed how they are handling the processing of inmates.

The Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department announced on Monday that visitors to the LCDC will not be allowed until further notice. They have also shut down outside entities bringing in people for arrests, according to Sheriff Joey East.

Entities who normally bring people in for arrests are being asked to look for other alternatives or methods, such as a post-arrest. Anyone who comes into the detention center will have their temperature checked upon arrival.

“Right now, we’re good,” East said. “We’ve stopped all training, all travel right now. We’re just trying to hunker down and take care of the county. Trying to stay away from big gatherings. … People are going to call and we’re going to go. We’re going to check on them.”

Employees at the LCDC are also getting checked, due to East’s worry of getting shorthanded at the jail. Staff has not been trimmed down to essential personnel, yet, but East said he knows those decisions could be coming if closures continue for a long period of time.

“What I’m afraid of with the schools shutting down is, we’re going to have to work with our employees,” East said. “We may have to let one or two off or work lighter to make sure they are home with their children and get a (pay)check. That’s the big thing.”