• 79°

Mask requirement extended as COVID-19 cases rise in Lafayette County

Masks will continue to be required within the city limits of Oxford as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Lafayette County.

The Board of Aldermen agreed to extend the requirement, which states masks must be worn by employees and customers inside businesses. Masks must also be worn by customers at restaurants when not seated at their table.

Masks will be required for the remainder of June. The Board will revisit the issue during a budget meeting on June 29.

Lafayette County reported its highest single-day total of 14 new cases on Tuesday, bringing its total to 195 cases since March 19. During Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, emergency management director Jimmy Allgood said there are currently between 50 and 54 active cases in Lafayette County.

“We’ve got great, stringent requirements in place, but it’s just dependent on people taking personal responsibility for them to be effective,” Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill said. “I think that we’re seeing our community is taking it that way. Unfortunately, there are a lot of students who believe that they are invincible and they’ll be fine if they get it and they probably will be, but it’s unfortunate for the person who checks them out at Larson’s (CashSaver).”

Tannehill also stated during the mask discussion that since June 1, four different urgent care clinics in Oxford had reported a total of 162 positive COVID-19 cases from University of Mississippi students who do not live in Lafayette County.

The Mississippi State Department of Health does not currently include those positive cases in Lafayette County’s total. Those cases are instead counted in the student’s home state or home county.

A large portion of those cases have been traced back to Rush parties, according to Tannehill. The University sent a letter out to fraternities stating if any more Greek life recruitment-related parties are held in Lafayette County, the offending organization(s) will be placed on social probation.

“Again, I think we have the proper regulations in place. We just have to have enough people care enough to follow them,” Tannehill said. “Having large student parties is not following the rules that are in place.”

The numbers did not include any potential positive cases from Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi. Tannehill said that 16 percent of the beds in the Intensive Care Unit are being occupied by COVID-19 patients and six percent of the regular hospital beds are occupied.