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Flaggs answers questions about the city’s COVID-19 response in Facebook live event



Mayor George Flaggs Jr. during his April 6 Facebook live Q&A. (Screen grab from video by Thomas Parker)
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Mayor George Flaggs hosted a live stream question and answer session to address the growing concerns over the COVID-19 spread in Vicksburg and Warren County.

Regardless of the number of times people are being told to seek information from credible sources rumors and misinformation are still being spread, Flaggs said.

As of Sunday, there are 1,738 confirmed cases in Mississippi with 51 deaths. Flaggs said that five cases have been reported in Warren County, “but that number will grow.”

“The next two weeks are critical,” Flaggs said.

Community transmission is becoming a problem in Warren County because people are not practicing the social distancing protocols strictly enough. “The virus is being transmitted from person to person in Warren County,” he said.

“Cover your face. Face protection will stop the transmission of this virus. A mask will work,” he added.

Flaggs addressed some confusion over what constituted an essential business.

“Essential businesses as defined by the governor are allowed to stay open” explained Flaggs. (See the list here.)

“I have the authority, but I don’t want to close the grocery stores,” he added. “I don’t want to close a pharmacy down, but if it becomes an issue where this transmitted disease is starting and escalating in those areas, we will have to look into it.”

Earlier Monday, Flaggs outlined what groceries and pharmacies should be doing to comply with social distancing guidelines, including limiting shoppers in stores and enforcing 6 foot distances between individuals.

He stressed to viewers to not over-buy grocery items and said that an entire family should not visit the grocery store or pharmacy together. He recommended one person per family run the errands for the household.

The Mayor is pleased with how the curfew is being obeyed by most. He clarified the curfew is in effect every night from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. and anyone 17 and under has a 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. curfew. Mayor Flaggs also believes this curfew is helping our crime statistics.

A concern of one viewer was the anticipated increase of COVID-19 patients at Merit Health River Region.

“In talking with River Region, Vicksburg and Warren County are ready. The issue is: are we ready for surrounding areas like Rolling Fork and Port Gibson coming in? But the hospital is using staff and supplies wisely,” Flaggs said.

It has been a concern of Mayor Flaggs that churches need some type of financial relief during this pandemic. On Friday, he wrote a letter to President Donald Trump requesting assistance for them. Flaggs announced during the forum that churches and other faith-based organizations can fill out and submit SBA loans through the federal government as any other non-profit organization can.

“I’m absolutely confident our city and nation will bounce back from this,” Flaggs said.

Flaggs said in order for things to go back to normal he is looking for one thing.

“Data, I need data,” he said, “and I need the experts to tell me that we’ve peaked and it’s best for us to restore and take off some of these restrictions.”

“9/11 changed our lives,” Flaggs added. “Pearl harbor changed our lives, and this (COVID-19) will change our lives.”

On Wednesday, viewers can tune in at 6 p.m. to hear from Vicksburg Fire Chief Craig Danzyck and Vicksburg Police Chief Milton Moore. Flaggs said it is his hope to have an ongoing forum that may include Warren County Supervisors and Warren County Emergency Director John Elfer

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