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Mayor addresses fire chief’s comments and COVID-19 in Facebook live event



mayor flaggs
Mayor George Flaggs Jr. during his July 7 Facebook live update. (Photo via video scree grab)

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. addressed Vicksburg Fire Chief Craig Danczyk’s recent comments on social media and the COVID-19 pandemic during his Facebook Q&A Tuesday evening.

The city did not take any action over Danczyk’s comments, which offended many people.

“We looked at that,” Flaggs said, “and his statement did not violate the policy of the city,”

The city consulting with outside counsel on the issue, who determined the comments did not warrant action. Flaggs did mention, though, that the city’s social media policy doesn’t reflect the way people are using it today, and it is in need of an update.

“We’re going to have to modify the policy,” he said.

Danczyk assured the mayor that he was not targeting any specific group or race of people, although Flaggs said it showed “bad judgement and bad timing.”

The chief apologized profusely during Monday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.

“It was not my intent to be insensitive during a difficult time for our community. I am deeply sorry if it may have caused offense. In the future, I will be more sensitive to other people’s viewpoints,” Danczyk said.

“He’s still the chief and will stay the chief as long as he can govern himself according to the policy of the City of Vicksburg,” Flaggs said.

The mayor then moved on to address COVID-19 in the city.

“This virus is not going anywhere,” Flaggs said, and he said six city employees have tested positive for COVID-19 out of 450 people. Two have been cleared and have returned to work. Another nine are being tested because of exposure to the virus.

Since the beginning of July, Warren County has added 107 new cases and one death to the cumulative tallies. Mississippi has added nearly 5,000 cases, which is a serious concern for state health officials as hospitalizations are in record territory. In Warren County, however, “We have not overwhelmed our health care providers,” Flaggs said.

While Flaggs advocated wearing masks and using social distancing, he said mandating masks isn’t on his agenda.

“It’s kind of hard to enforce those,” he said.

He said the problem in Vicksburg is that restaurants and other businesses are not adhering to the city’s guidelines to operate safely.

As of next week, the city will have a special officer to patrol businesses and ensure the guidelines are being followed. The officer, who will be working part time, will begin by educating businesses and issuing warnings.

“I think this is far better than issuing citations” to people for not wearing masks, Flaggs said.

He didn’t entirely rule out the possibility, however. Flaggs later said that if his research justifies a mask mandate, he will not hesitate to issue one.

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