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Warren County adopts measures to close bars and limit people in stores and on store property

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(Photo by Billy Hathorn - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41035029)

In a specially called Warren County Board of Supervisors meeting this morning, the board passed an emergency order mandating closure of bars and eliminating loitering on convenience store lots or other retail properties among other measures to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Following a discussion with Board Attorney Blake Teller as to whether the additional language in the resolution was applicable, the measure passed 4-0. District 4 Supervisor Shawn Jackson was unable to attend this morning’s hastily called session.

The resolution adds provisions in addition to the governor’s executive order yesterday.

District 1 Supervisor Edward Herring said the board conferred with Warren County Emergency Management Director John Elfer and Sheriff Martin Pace regarding certain aspects of the language and scope of the resolution.

Sheriff Pace reported to the Board that the Arby’s located inside the Love’s Truck Stop at Flowers has been in compliance for almost a week. They have closed their dining area and drive through is closed from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. The remainder of the truck stop continues to operate 24/7.

“I commend the Warren County Board of Supervisors for the decisions they’ve made related to COVID-19,” Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said in a statement following the meeting. “The collaboration we’re seeing between the two boards is monumental. Vicksburg and Warren County taxpayers are the real winners when our two boards work together.”

Read the full text of the resolution below:

EMERGENCY ORDER TO CONTROL OR RESTRICT EGRESS, INGRESS, AND MOVEMENT WITHIN THE COUNTY DUE TO THE SPREAD OF THE CORONA VIRUS (COVID -19) AND IN THE INTEREST OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND WELFARE

WHEREAS, pursuant to§ 33-15-17 of the Mississippi Code of 1972, as amended, entitled Emergency Management Local Organization, authorizes the Board of Supervisors of the County to enter such resolutions and orders as may be reasonable and necessary to control or restrict egress, ingress and movement within Warren County during an emergency to the degree necessary to facilitate the protection of life and property; and

WHEREAS, the President of the United States and the Governor of Mississippi have declared a state of emergency because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; and

WHEREAS, the City of Vicksburg and Warren County passed a Joint Declaration of State of Emergency in Vicksburg Warren County on March 16, 2020; and

WHEREAS, COVID-19 has spread across this nation and is a worldwide pandemic resulting in 320 positive confirmed cases and 1 death in Mississippi as reported by the Mississippi Department of Health as of March 24, 2020; and

WHEREAS, the Mississippi Department of Health and the CDC have advised all citizens to practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet apart from one another; and

WHEREAS, the President of the United States, the CDC, the Governor of Mississippi and the Mississippi Health Department have recommended that gatherings of more than 10 people be avoided; and

WHEREAS, extraordinary measures related to the spread of the COVID-19 are necessary for the health, safety, welfare and good order to protect the public.

NOW, THEREFORE, WE, THE WARREN COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY VESTED IN THIS BOARD PURSUANT TO §33-15-17 OF THE MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, AS AMENDED, ENTITLED EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT LOCAL ORGANIZATION, HEREBY ISSUES THIS RESOLUTION AND ORDER THAT AN EMERGENCY EXISTS IN WARREN COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI DUE TO THE SPREAD OF THE CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19) AND IN THE INTEREST OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND WELFARE, DO HEREBY ORDER THAT UNTIL NOON ON APRIL 6, 2020, UNLESS FURTHER EXTENDED, AS FOLLOWS:

1. Most places that have public assembly such as theaters, churches, places of entertainment, and other places where the public gathers from time to time have already adopted policies of closing, or are already limiting the number of persons allowed inside at the same time. Regardless, there should not be gatherings of more than 10 people at an event. None of the abovementioned places shall allow gatherings of more than 10 people for as long as this resolution and order is in effect.

2. Bars, nightclubs, lounges, and taverns shall close for the duration of this resolution and order.

3. Restaurants shall close dine-in services, but may provide food for pick-up, curbside service, delivery, or drive-through services to the extent allowed by law. There shall not be more than 10 employees and customers on the premises of the abovementioned businesses at any one time. These establishments must close all pick-up, curbside service, delivery, or drive-through services by 11 :00 p.m. and remain closed until 5:00 a.m.

4. Retail and convenience stores shall allow no more than 10 persons inside the store and no more than 10 persons on the parking lot/gas service areas of the premises at any one time.

5. The measures detailed in this Resolution and Order of Warren County (other than those referring to places that are venues of public assembly) apply only to the specific businesses listed herein which are outside the Vicksburg City limits, and are applicable so long as this resolution and order is in effect.

THIS PROCLAMATION SHALL BE IN EFFECT BEGINNING WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 2020 AT 12:00 NOON AND CONTINUE TO NOON APRIL 6, 2020, UNLESS EXTENDED BY FURTHER ORDER OF THIS BOARD.

Ronni Mott contributed to this story.

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Doctor says Merit Health River Region is ready for COVID-19

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Dr. Carlos Latorre, far right, waits for his turn at the mic on Sunday, March 29. Vicksburg Fire Chief Craig Danczyk and Police Chief Milton Moore are on the left behind Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. at the podium. (Photo by Thomas Parker)

Mississippi Medicaid Director and Vicksburg family practitioner Dr. Carlos Latorre believes Merit Health is ready for COVID-19.

“Our hospitals are doing well,” Latorre said Sunday during a press conference with Vicksburg and Warren County officials. “We have enough beds, enough staff and enough ventilators.”

Latorre, who also serves on Mississippi’s COVID-19 task force, said about 20 percent of COVID-19 patients will be hospitalized, and 3 to 5 percent will not recover from the virus. Out of the 847 cases reported to date in Mississippi, 195 have required hospitalization, or 23 percent, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health website.

Normally, when health professionals place a patient on a ventilator, they stay on the breathing device for two to four days, the doctor said. For severe cases of COVID-19, which frequently presents as pneumonia in both lungs, patients are staying on ventilators for two weeks straight and some even longer.

“I think Merit Health is ready,” Latorre said. “Vicksburg is a hub for our area. Port Gibson, Issaquena County, Rolling Fork—if people get sick, and they need a higher level of care their facilities can’t provide, they come to Merit Health, and we don’t see that changing.”

With four testing sites in Vicksburg, Latorre said health-care professionals have tested over 100 individuals and two have come back positive.

The first known case in Warren County was an inmate who tested positive for COVID-19 last Thursday. Latorre said that the county where a person is tested is not necessarily where the case is counted. That particular case was added to Rankin County’s total as that is the inmate’s permanent address.

Warren County does, however, have a a confirmed case: A 45-year-old woman who likely contracted the virus when she recently visited New Orleans.

Vicksburg Fire/EMS transported the woman to the hospital.

“Once we got confirmation the 45-year-old female did test positive, we monitored our staff closely for symptoms,” Fire Chief Craig Danczyk said, “and that worked and was very positive. And most of that is because of the precautions we are taking to keep our equipment and workstations sanitized.”

Danczyk said he has canceled vacations for Vicksburg’s first responders to ensure the community is well served during the pandemic.

John Elfer, Warren County Emergency Management director, said he has worked closely with the Mississippi State Department of Health and other state officials to bring drive-through free testing to Vicksburg. As a result, the University of Mississippi Medical Center and MSDH is hosting a one-day testing clinic on Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Latorre believes Warren County will see an increase in COVID-19 numbers due the availability of free testing, but getting quick results could be an issue.

“We are having tests that are not coming back as quickly as we would like,” Latorre said. “Some are taking seven to nine days for us to get the results.”

Waiting that long can be challenging and stressful for health professionals and for patients waiting to learn the results.

Above all else, Latorre, Danczyk and Elfer urge people to stay indoors if they have the ability to do so.

“The majority of the population has complied” with social-distancing recommendations, Danzyck said. “I see a limited number of cars on the road. I think the public has responded positively to the measures taken.”

Danczyk reminded the public to only call 911 if it is an emergency. Warren County E-911 has had an increased number of callers during the pandemic. He also asked callers to be be patient with the dispatcher, as they are instructed to ask questions regarding COVID-19 symptoms before dispatching emergency personnel.

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Steele Bayou gates closed again; Highway 465 closure imminent

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The Steele Bayou Control Structure (photo from USACE)

The gates on the Steele Bayou Control Structure were closed at around 2:30 p.m. Monday, Drew Smith, chief of Water Management for the Vicksburg District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed to Vicksburg Daily News.

“River conditions are such that the gates needed to close,” Smith said.

The Mississippi River was at 46.69 feet as of 2 p.m. and is projected to crest at 49 feet on April 9.

In a related development, Bob Broadwater with the Mississippi Department of Transportation said MDOT will probably close State Highway 465 once again from Highway 61 to the intersection with the backwater levee within the next 48 hours. Water was already near the edge of the roadway, he said, adding that there is some undermining of the roadway just south of the old gin that will have to be addressed once the water recedes.

Currently, the Backwater is at 94.7 feet, and there are 427,000 total acres flooded including 154,000 acres of crop land, said Levee Board Chief Engineer Peter Nimrod in an email update this afternoon. The Backwater is predicted to crest between 95 feet and 95.5 feet by mid-April. At 95.5 feet there will be 454,000 total acres flooded including 172,000 acres of crop land.

Mississippi River predictions:

Flood Gage Current Stage Predicted Stage Crest & Date
Cairo (Ohio River) 40’ 52.6 Cresting near 52.6’
Memphis 34 35.3 36.5’ on 4/3/20
Helena 44’ 43.2’ 44.5 on 4/5/20
Arkansas City 37’ 39.5’ 42.0’ on 4/6/20
Greenville 48 50.6’ 53.5’ on 4/7/20
Vicksburg 43’ 46.7’ 49.0’ on 4/8/20
Natchez 48’ 53.9’ 56.0’ on 4/9/20

The National Weather Service unofficial forecast for the next 16 days matches up with the official forecast shown above, Nimrod said.

  • Arkansas City is slowly rising and could crest near 42’ in 7 days.
  • Greenville is slowly rising and could crest near 53.5’ in 9 days.
  • Vicksburg is slowly rising and could crest near 49.5’ in 10 days.

Nimrod also provided the following Backwater facts in his update:

  • The Backwater went 33 years (from 1984 until 2017) without ever being above 94 feet (over 400,000 acres flooded).
  • In the past three years, the Backwater has eclipsed 94 feet every year.
  • In 2018, it was above 94 feet for 14 days.
  • In 2019, it was above 94 feet for 147 days.
  • So far in 2020, it has been above 94 feet for 40 days and counting.

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Crime

Vicksburg PD busts a man after he calls to say someone shot into his house; incident report

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Darren Mazie (Photo courtesy VPD)

Vicksburg Police officers arrested a man Saturday for possession of drugs and a gun after he called to say someone had shot into his house.

Officers arrested Darren Mazie, 34, of 3062 Wisconsin Ave., who had reported that his residence had been shot into around 3:30 a.m. March 28. While looking for bullets inside the house, officers saw bags containing over 100 grams of marijuana. He was also in possession of a loaded handgun.

Mazie has been charged with felony possession of marijuana and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Other reported incidents for Friday March 27 through Sunday, March 29:

Officers responded to a residence in the 200 block of Hillside Drive in for an auto burglary on Sunday, March 29, at 3:53 p.m. The victim stated that someone went into her glove box and stole her 9mm Taurus handgun. The vehicle had been left unlocked the previous night.

Vicksburg Police officers responded to three shots fired calls. They found no evidence of shots fired at any of the scenes.

  • Friday at 11:27 p.m., officers responded to the area of Second and National streets.
  • Sunday, at 1:48 a.m., officers responded to the 2000 block of Martin Luther King Boulevard.
  • Sunday at 9:12 p.m., officers responded to the area of Cherry Street at East Avenue.

If you have information on any of these incidents, please call the Vicksburg Police Department at 601-636-2511.

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