Board of Alderman vote to require masks in all city buildings

Published 9:33 am Wednesday, January 5, 2022

The Oxford Board of Alderman are requiring masks to be worn in all city buildings when social distancing is not possible.

With game season in mind, this motion does not include while you are exercising, so that masks can be enforced on spectators.

The board approved the regulation after discussions on COVID-19 numbers in Lafayette County and the affects of the variant on local services.

As of Tuesday morning, Baptist Memorial Hospital North Mississippi had hospitalized 42 COVID-19 patients and four of the patients were in the intensive care unit. Of those patients, 73% were not from Lafayette County.

“Know that when we put things in place, we’re trying to affect the number of folks in the hospital, which is very difficult task when only [27%] are actually from Lafayette County,” she said.

From Nov. 1, 2021 to Jan. 2, 2022, 86% of COVID positive patients in Baptist were unvaccinated. Although, fully vaccinated people are contracting COVID, a large majority are not being hospitalized or dying as a result of infection.

The week of Jan. 1, Delta was 4.6% of the cases sampled and Omicron made up 95.4%. In the southeast region of the U.S., which includes Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, Omicron accounts for 97.5% of all cases. Research shows that Omicron is at most 1.6 times as transmissible as the Delta variant.

Lafayette County gained 155 cases as of Tuesday, Jan. 4 which puts the county at a total of 10,028 cases.

“On the positive side, 58% of Lafayette County citizens have received one vaccination and 53% are totally vaccinated,” said Jimmy Allgood, Director of Emergency Management.

Allgood said Omicron is more contagious but it is less likely to lead to hospitalization and death as with the other variants.

The board announced that Baptist is not turning away any patients, but the hospital recommends the public to visit their local clinic for COVID testing. The drive-thru testing facility at the Oxford Conference Center is open to the public as well and has increased their daily appointments from 75 to 250.

Tannehill reported that the city has a number of employees out due to COVID. In the Environmental Services department, nine employees have called out which will impact trash, litter and recycling pickup and half of the Building department is out with COVID, which means permits cannot be issued as quickly.

“We’re not going to get it done in a timely manner right now,”  she said. “We just ask you to be patient with us. We’re going to work as hard as we can go and as fast as we can go, but just know we’re going to be behind in some areas.”