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The National Guard is not shutting Mississippi down

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Mississippi isn’t being shut down, and the National Guard has not been deployed to put Mississippians under military control.

The social media rumor mill has been working overtime about why the National Guard has been deployed.

Gov. Tate Reeves signed Executive Order 1459 on Monday, March 16, to assist in the state’s defense against the COVID-19 coronavirus. At this time, the guard is setting up testing stations around the state including in Warren, Coahoma, LeFlore, Adams, Pearl River​ and Harrison counties, according to Mississippi Rep. Kevin Ford.

“First, let me address the rumor that the government is going to order a complete shut down of our state. I am not aware of any such plan,” Ford wrote in a Facebook post Saturday. “Yesterday, I was in a meeting with representatives of the Governor’s office, the Lt. Gov., the head of the Department of Health, the head of MEMA, and the General of the National Guard. At no time during that meeting was any mention made of any sort of shut down. Furthermore, I had a conversation this morning with Brad White, the Governor’s Chief of Staff, and I asked him directly if there was a plan to order any sort of shut down. He said no.

“All that has been done is a request to stay home as much as you can. Restaurants have been asked to consider going to take out only. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations are all open, and I am not aware of any plan to order them closed.”

The Mississippi National Guard responded to the rumors with the following statement:

The MSNG Soldiers and Airmen are ready to respond in defense of COVID-19 to promote safety and wellness throughout our state.

Governor Tate Reeves signed Executive Order No. 1459 on March 16, 2020, that activates the MSNG in further support, response and prevention of COVID-19.

This Executive Order allows Maj. Gen. Janson D. Boyles, the adjutant general of Mississippi, to utilize our force in such a way as he deems necessary to support state and local civil authorities.  The MSNG leadership is working in coordination with state agencies such as the COVID-19 State Task Force including Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the Mississippi State Department of Health to clearly define the MSNG’s mission and implement resources as a supporting agency.

Once activated, the missions of the MSNG will primarily consist of humanitarian support efforts.  Examples of these missions could include logistical support, supply distribution, site set-up and support at drive-thru screening facilities in addition to supporting local and state civil authorities.

We are committed to keeping the public informed every step of the way during our efforts to diminish the spread of the Coronavirus in Mississippi. To alleviate any concerns stemming from various social media posts being shared from unofficial and/or false sources, we are encouraging the citizens of Mississippi to only receive information regarding the MSNG, its mission and coordinated support through official sources. The official social media sources of the MSNG:

In response to some of the negative or indifferent posts we’ve read on various social media accounts, the MSNG wants to reassure the citizens of Mississippi that Martial Law, or any other form of military control is not an option and is not being enacted.

The Stafford Act of 1988, which a lot of these posts are confusing with Martial Law, does not have a provision that would allow the federal government to declare such a military based mission.

In fact, the Stafford Act of 1988 is a federal law designed to bring orderly and systematic means of disaster relief and assistance to state and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities to aid citizens. It is a way of providing for, not controlling, U.S. citizens

As the MSNG prepares to support and assist our state, local and federal partners, we cannot stress enough, the importance of maintaining good order and a safe environment for all first responders, medical personnel and any and all support elements during these trying times.

This is a dynamic situation and the MSNG will adapt to any changes in the situation to ensure we accomplish our assigned missions working alongside our agency partners, such as the MDHS, MEMA, state agencies and the CDC.  The MSNG remains committed to the health and safety of our men and women in uniform, their families, and the communities in which we serve.

COVID-19

Half of Mississippi’s counties are now under governor’s mask mandates

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Gov. Tate Reeves during a news conference Oct. 19, 2020. (photo via video screen grab)

Tuesday, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced a continuation of his county-level attempt to lower the number of COVID-19 cases in Mississippi by adding 19 counties to the list of those under expanded restrictions.

Half of Mississippi’s counties — 41 of 82 — are now under mask mandates. The counties added Tuesday are Alcorn, Attala, Bolivar, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lincoln, Lowndes, Neshoba, Panola, Perry, Prentiss, Stone, Tippah, Tishomingo and Union. Click here to see a map showing the rest of the counties under the expanded restrictions and self-imposed mask mandates.

“This is a critical time,” Reeves said of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, asking Mississippians to please be extra cautious and look out for loved ones.

“There is much more COVID-19 around us,” he added, emphasizing that there is a greater risk to unknowingly pass the virus to loved ones as the state experiences a surge in new cases.

“The risk is greater,” he said.

Numerous health officials have called on the governor to issue a statewide mask mandate, but so far, he has resisted taking that action.

“If you issue the mask mandates on a county-by-county basis, based on where the number of cases is the largest, then that is the best strategy to convince the most number of our fellow Mississippians to wear a mask,” Reeves said.

To prove the point, the governor compared other states where mask mandates have been in place for months that now have much higher rates of infection than Mississippi.

He also said that he believes wearing a mask is helpful in slowing the spread of the virus and urged all Mississippi residents to wear masks in public.

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Officials urging comments to support Corps’ Yazoo Backwater 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)

State officials are urging Mississippians to weigh in on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Impact Statement in support of finishing the Yazoo Backwater Pumps by the Monday deadline.

“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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Cars line up on Starbucks’ opening day

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Cars lined up down the block on Starbucks' opening day Tuesday. (photo by Thomas Parker)

Cars lined up Tuesday at the new Vicksburg Starbucks drive-thru window to get a first taste of the chain’s coffee beverages and food offerings.

Starbucks, based in Seattle, Washington, announced last year that it was adding a location in Vicksburg at 3405 Halls Ferry Road, and many in the community were eagerly awaiting the chance visit the well-known coffee shop. Before, if a Vicksburg resident wanted Starbucks, they would have to drive about 30 minutes to Clinton for the nearest location.

It remains to be seen how business will hold up after the initial rush subsides. Some are curious how the opening will impact Vicksburg’s coffee shop Cafe Paradiso, a local favorite, which is just a stone’s throw away in an adjacent strip center.

The opening and public opinion on Starbuck’s corporate policies have been hot topics on social media in recent weeks. Tuesday, many locals posted photos of their purchased Starbucks items.

The Vicksburg location will be open six days a week from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is closed Sundays.

Thomas Parker contributed to this story.

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