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City, county take proactive stance on COVID-19

City and county officials are working together to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic health scare.

A steering committee has been formed consisting as city and county officials as well as the Brookhaven Police Department, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Mississippi State Department of Health, King’s Daughters Medical Center and Lincoln County Emergency Management.

“The Brookhaven Board of Aldermen is monitoring the situation. They will address the situation at the regular board meeting Tuesday night,” Mayor Joe Cox said Monday.

The committee meets again Wednesday and will release a joint unified statement.

Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Clifford Galey said information has changed quickly and the group hopes to follow the guidance from the Mississippi State Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as Gov. Tate Reeves to create a plan of action.

“It’s a kind of group that I would normally call upon when we have some sort of event that encompasses both the city and the county. It’s a steering committee. We sit down and talk about where we’re at, what we see and what we think might happen,” he said.

Galey said it’s difficult to keep up with the information as it is released.

“It’s not only changing rapidly, it’s changing every few minutes lately,” he said.

As emergency manager of the county and city, Galey is emphasizing good hygiene and common sense at all times.

“It’s just a recommendation for good hygiene, as you would for the cold and flu. I don’t think we can say it enough. Hand washing. Hand washing. Hand washing. Try to social distance. Six feet is the recommended space right now. We need to use good common sense,” he said. “We just need to do our day-to-day things but just be vigilant about health care. Wash your hands. If you’re sick, try not to be out in public. That’s how we’re going to stop the spread of it. Stay home, stay away from people if necessary. Don’t go to emergency room, call your doctor and get that set up. We don’t want to overwhelm our emergency room.”

The governor signed executive orders Monday.

One activates the Mississippi National Guard to support mobile testing units.

“We will be working to stand these up quickly,” he wrote on his social media pages.

He is requiring state agencies to determine which workers are essential and sending everyone else home and asking private companies to do the same.

Reeves wants schools to work with the Mississippi Department of Education to develop distance learning protocols “as we determine how long schools should stay closed.”

The order also asks that free and reduced lunches still be available.

“We must look after one another in this trying time,” he said.

One order also provides paid leave for any state and local worker who misses work due to this outbreak.

“We are working with the Legislature to make sure it applies to everyone who could qualify. We hope private companies will also follow our example here if they can,” he said. “The president told us today that workers, businesses and families affected by the country’s efforts to contain the spread will be taken care of to the best of our ability. I believe he means it, and look forward to working with them to make sure it gets in the right hands. We will come through this together — stronger.”