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Brookhaven, Lincoln County declare emergency, activate comprehensive plan

Officials Wednesday jointly declared a local emergency for Brookhaven and Lincoln County as the number of Mississippians testing positive for COVID-19 continues to increase.

A steering committee that formed last week met Wednesday and appointed Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Clifford Galey as the spokesman for the group, which includes his office as well as representatives from the City of Brookhaven, Lincoln County Board of Supervisors, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Brookhaven Police Department, Mississippi Highway Patrol, King’s Daughter Medical Center, Brookhaven School District, Lincoln County School District, Brookhaven Academy and Mississippi School of the Arts.

By declaring an emergency, officials can activate a comprehensive emergency plan that was put in place years ago, but recently updated, Galey said.

The declaration allows the city and county to seek state and federal assistance for medical supplies and other needed supplies.

“In general, it gives everyone a little bit more authority than they would normally have if we were not under this COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Galey said he is working with all emergency services to fill any unmet needs that may arise due to the statewide outbreak.

No positive cases have been reported in Lincoln County as of Wednesday afternoon, he said.

Galey urged residents to install the free app MS Ready on mobile devices through either the Apple Store or Google Play Store. The app, created for use by the Mississippi State Department of Health, is available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

The app provides up-to-date and accurate disaster information including disease outbreaks such as COVID-19.

“If they see it on that site, it is true information,” he said.

Galey said the county’s upcoming Keep Lincoln County Beautiful Spring Cleanup has been postponed until a later date. The drop-off locations in the five districts throughout the month of April will not be available. Galey urged residents who planned to drop off debris and white goods at one of the locations to keep it on their own property until a new date has been determined.

The Brookhaven Recreation Department and all public parks are closed and all city-sponsored recreational activities have been temporarily canceled.

The upcoming Spring Fling and Fair at the Lincoln Civic Center and all civic center and arena activities have been canceled, he said.

He urged residents to stay at home if possible, but if going out, do so responsibly. He said stores and restaurants are making phone, social media and app ordering more user-friendly and offering drive-thru, curbside and delivery service.

“If you don’t need to go out, don’t go out, but if you go out, support the local businesses that are offering safe ways to shop and dine,” he said.

The Lincoln County-Brookhaven Government Complex will remain open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, visitors will notice that area are being cleaned and sanitized more often and workers in some offices will be wearing gloves when handling money and interacting with the public.

Those who exhibit any of the symptoms of a coronavirus — fever, dry cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing — should not call for an ambulance or go to the KDMC emergency room.

“If for some reason you think you need to be tested, please call your doctor and set it up through your doctor,” he said. “Do not go through the hospital. They will not accept you there.”

He said individuals should call their primary physician and they will advise the person on the proper procedure that needs to be followed.

“Above all, try to stay calm, practice good hand washing and take regular precautions you would take in flu and cold season,” he said. “The health department’s recommendation of hand washing for 20 seconds with soap and warm water is your best option.”