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Governor issues shelter-in-place order for Lauderdale County

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On Tuesday, March 31, Gov. Tate Reeves signed a new executive order establishing a shelter-in-place order for Lauderdale County to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of all Mississippians.

As of Monday, March 30, at 6 p.m., the county reported 35 cases and no deaths from the virus, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health website. Lauderdale County is located in east Central Mississippi and its county seat is Meridian.

MSDH identified Lauderdale County as the first localized region for additional restrictions, and Reeves announced the shelter-in-place order for the county at a press conference this morning. This follows the “identify and isolate” strategy that the state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, laid out at a press conference last week.

Mississippi is rapidly increasing testing and strictly enforcing quarantines for anyone that investigators believe has been exposed to the virus. Two-week shelter-in-place orders are a tool to allow health officials to flex resources to areas that carry special risk. The shelter-in-place will begin at 10 p.m. and be in effect through April 14, 2020.

You can view the full press conference here.

“This is the first of many actions that will come as a result of our ‘identify and isolate’ strategy to protect Mississippi’s health-care system from being overwhelmed,” Reeves said. “Keeping Mississippians healthy and safe while working to slow the spread remains our top priority. This order builds on the state’s other social distancing requirements to protect public health. Please stay home so we can all stay healthy.”

In this latest executive order, the Governor lays out the guidelines of the shelter-in-place to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Lauderdale County, including:

  • Individuals are to stay at home except for the limited allowances in the executive order.
  • When outside of their homes, people must follow social distancing guidelines by maintaining a 6-foot distance from others and avoid groups of 10 or more.
  • Evictions are suspended, though people are still required to pay any rent or make any mortgage payments.
    All nonessential businesses are to stop all activities other than those necessary for minimum operations (e.g. payroll, health insurance, security) and enabling employees to work from home.
  • Social and other non-essential gatherings in groups of more than 10 people must be cancelled or rescheduled.
  • Restaurants and bars may only remain open for drive-thru, curbside, and/or delivery service.
  • People may leave their homes only to perform essential activities, such as caring for someone in the vulnerable population, getting food or necessary supplies, and working for an essential business.
  • Individual outdoor recreation is encouraged, but not group recreation or activities such as soccer or basketball games.

The executive order is below.

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Final day for comments on Corps’ Yazoo Backwater Pumps statement

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U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith spoke with flood victims at Valley Park, Miss., in 2019. (Photo by David Day)

Monday, Nov. 30 is the final day to submit comments on the the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Impact Statement in support of finishing the Yazoo Backwater Pumps. State officials are urging Mississippians to weigh in.

“We’ve seen the devastation that the backwater flooding has caused to Mississippi agriculture, farmers, ranchers and wildlife for years now, unnecessarily. The solution is simple, we need to finish the Yazoo Pump Project, which would prevent flood damage to urban and agricultural areas throughout the state for years to come,” said Andy Gipson, commissioner of agriculture and commerce, in a statement.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently accepting comments from citizens through Monday, Nov. 30, on the Yazoo Area Pump Project, and I encourage all Mississippians to take a moment and submit a comment of support. We need to stand up for our friends in the Mississippi South Delta and help them in their time of need. It’s time to finish the pumps.”

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann tweeted a brief video Monday in support of the finishing the pumps.

Comments must be submitted by Monday, Nov. 30. Submit comments using one of the following methods:

  • Text PUMPS to 50457.
  • Send a voicemail or text message to 601-392-2237.
  • Go to https://www.forgottenbackwaterflood.com/ or https://finishthepumps.com/ to fill out an online form to send to the Corps.
  • Fill out a postcard available at sites around the state including Valley Park Elevator in Valley Park, Lo-Sto and Yore Convenience Store in Eagle Lake, Mississippi Ag Company and Chuck’s Dairy Bar in Rolling Fork, Mississippi Levee Board and Sherman’s Restaurant in Greenville, Toney’s Grill in Vicksburg and the Mississippi Delta Council in Stoneville.
  • Send an email to [email protected]
  • Write to the Corps at the following address:
    District Engineer
    S. Army Corps of Engineers
    Vicksburg District
    4155 Clay Street
    Vicksburg, MS 39183-3435
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The old state flag with the Confederate battle emblem isn’t dead just yet

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The old flag of the State of Mississippi once flew along High Street between the Mississippi State Capitol, Supreme Court and Walter Sillers State Office Building in Jackson, Mississippi. (Photo by Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=68498465)

Despite a massive vote on Nov. 3 in favor of a new Mississippi state flag that proclaims “In God We Trust,” additional official actions are needed to ensure the death knell for the 126-year-old state flag that features the Confederate battle emblem as part of its design.

During the 2021 legislative session that begins in January, lawmakers must ratify the new state flag approved by voters on Nov. 3. The bill passed this summer — which retired the old flag and formed a commission to recommend a new design (the “In God We Trust” flag) to be approved or rejected by voters on Nov. 3 — included a little-noticed provision that requires legislators to ratify the action of the voters.

That means lawmakers must take at least one more vote on the flag in the rapidly approaching legislative session.

In 2001, during an earlier failed attempt to change the state flag, legislators voted to hold a referendum where the choice would be between the old flag and a new design recommended by a commission. The bill passed by the Legislature that year stated that whatever flag voters approved would be the official flag of the state without any additional action by the Legislature. In 2001, voters overwhelmingly voted to retain the old flag.

But the bill approved this year states that once voters approved the new design, “the Legislature shall enact into law the new design as the official Mississippi state flag.” Of course, the courts have ruled that the word “shall” does not force legislators to do anything they do not want to do.

The vote to change the flag this past summer was a difficult one for many legislators to take, and several lawmakers have taken heat for it in their home districts. That begs the question of why language was put into the bill essentially forcing legislators to take yet another vote on the contentious issue. It seems the easier option would have been to mandate that the vote of the people for a new flag would ratify that banner as official.

As the bill was being crafted in June, concerns were raised about an 1860 Supreme Court case, Alcorn v. Hamer. Some said the ruling in that case could be interpreted to say it was unconstitutional for the Legislature to leave it to a vote of the people to enact general law.

Despite the controversy surrounding replacing the old flag, there is good reason to believe the ratification of the new flag by the Legislature during the 2021 session will be nothing more than a formality and will perhaps happen early in the session.

After all, more Mississippians voted for the new state flag on Nov. 3 than voted for President Donald Trump or U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. Heck, more people voted for the new flag than voted for medical marijuana, which also got more votes than Trump and Hyde-Smith.

The only ballot item receiving more votes than the new flag this year was the proposal to change the Constitution to remove the language requiring candidates for statewide office to garner both a majority of the popular votes and to win the most votes in a majority of House districts in order to win the election.

That proposal received 957,420 votes, or 79.2%, in still unofficial returns, while the flag garnered 939,585 vote, or 73.3%. Trump received 756,731 votes, or 57.5%.

Both the electoral provision that was repealed by voters and the old state flag were remnants of the 1890s, when Mississippi’s white power structure took extraordinary steps to deny basic rights to African Americans. The electoral provision was enacted as a method of preventing Black Mississippians, then a majority in the state, from being elected to statewide office.

Placing the Confederate battle emblem on the state’s official flag during the same time period, no doubt, was a way for white lawmakers to pay homage to the Civil War in which Southerners fought to preserve slavery.

Even if the Legislature, as expected, does ratify the new flag in 2021, the controversy may not be quite over. The Let Mississippi Vote political committee plans to try to garner the roughly 100,000 signatures of registered voters needed to place a proposal back on the ballot to allow people to choose between four flags — one being that 126-year-old banner.

Most likely later this month or early next month, the clock will start ticking on the one-year time frame supporters of that ballot initiative will have to gather the signatures to place the flag proposal on the ballot.

Whether Mississippians, who voted overwhelmingly for a new flag on Nov. 3, will want to vote again on the contentious issue remains to be seen.


This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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Vehicle takes out hydrant and utility pole

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Photo by David Day

A single vehicle collision has taken out a fire hydrant and a utility pole on Cherry at Baum.

Photo by David Day

At 10:40 p.m. E-911 Dispatch received a call that a dark blue Kia SUV had impacted a utility pole on Cherry Street near East. The first officer on scene called in that a fire hydrant had also been impacted and that water was gushing into the roadway.

Photo by David Day

Neither the driver or the passenger of the Kia was injured however a man was taken into custody at the scene.

No disruption of utility services in the area was noted and that traffic was flowing smoothly.

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