The following is a letter to the editor from Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. Opinions and views expressed in letters to the editor are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the Vicksburg Daily News.
Dr. Dwayne Freeman wrote a book called “Leaders Listen, Learn and Lead.” It’s been those three words that have helped me navigate a monthslong fight against the spread of COVID-19; a virus that has impacted countless lives and families within the City of Vicksburg like we never thought possible.
As mayor of the City of Vicksburg, there are fundamental parts of my job, none more important than protecting the lives and livelihoods of those who join me in calling Vicksburg home. In fulfilling my role, it’s crucial that I listen to others, especially the advice of experts in their field before I make any decision.
That’s what I did at the start of this fight against COVID-19: remained proactive, ahead of the curve and listened to experts. And that’s what I’m continuing to do today.
In that listening, I learned from others as one technique after another, one step after another was taken to slow the spread of this virus and save lives. From that first day, from that first moment of listening, we have learned so much about this virus and learned new ways that are proven in slowing its spread.
Today we know that masks work in slowing the spread of COVID-19. It’s been proven by doctors, scientists and so many others. Masks work in saving lives and saving livelihoods as they allow us to keep people employed and businesses open. We can now take smart, data-driven steps that protect ourselves, our friends and our neighbors, as well as the jobs that support their families.
Despite partially shutting down our local economy early on, it has rebounded, at times even surpassing levels not seen in years. And, as we continue to understand and appreciate the value of supporting one another and shopping locally that growth will continue. And it must continue.
It’s been those hours upon hours of listening and those vital moments of learning from others that have helped lead to my decision-making process for our city through this monthslong pandemic.
There is no doubt in my mind that those early, thoughtful steps, and the many steps since that time, saved lives, our economy and jobs. While one life lost is one too many, had we not taken — and continue to take — the steps we have, our numbers would be worse, and the level of restrictions ordered by the state would be far more severe.
I know that many are tired. I know that many are wanting to return to normal. There are times when I am tired and long for a sense of normalcy, but we must stay the course.
However, today I find myself inspired, not tired; driven, not defeated.
In the many months of this pandemic, I have seen our community stand tall, stand strong and stand for one another. And it is that example that gives me hope that will we come through this pandemic stronger than we ever imagined.
This is not a popularity contest for me. It’s my job — a job that I’m passionate about. It’s also my only job because Vicksburg and its future are my priorities 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
I humbly ask for your prayers and that you continue to take all the possible precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Vicksburg as I continue to “listen, learn and lead” for all of our city.
Mayor George Flaggs Jr.