CORRECTION: In a previous edition of this story, it was stated that Mayor Murray Weems was hospitalized due to COVID-19. The cause of his illness was not disclosed during the meeting, but Weems said the illness was not COVID-19. The Appeal regrets the error and is happy to set the record straight.
The Newton Board of Aldermen were deciding Tuesday night whether they would enforce a mask mandate due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases.
At the Nov. 17 meeting, Alderman Eric McCalphia brought up the idea of the mask mandate as other areas such as Meridian has already enacted. He has see
“We had a person who was supposed to be in quarantine show up at church,” McCalphia said at the meeting. “You were supposed to be in quarantine, and then you show up without a mask. I think we may need something to help us protect the community.”
Mayor Murray Weems was not present at the Nov. 17 meeting, as he had recently returned from a hospital stay. The cause of the illness was not disclosed, but it was not related to COVID-19.
The board’s decision had not been made as of press time Tuesday.
Check www.newtoncountyappeal.com for the latest on this decision.
While the board may take action on the mask mandate, the Mississippi State Health Department and Gov. Tate Reeves could include the county in a mask mandate based on the latest COVID-19 data.
On Nov. 24, Neshoba County met the criteria once again to have a mask mandate reinstated. Newton County does not qualify at this time for the mask mandate set forth by the Safe Recovery executive order.
Gov. Tate Reeves announced at a press conference additional counties that have qualified and met certain requirements to be placed under mask mandates with the Safe Recovery executive order that is in effect until Dec. 11.
Those additional counties are: Alcorn, Attala, Bolivar, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lincoln, Lowndes, Neshoba, Panola, Perry, Prentiss, Stone, Tippah, Tishomingo, and Union. Now, 41 of Mississippi’s 82 counties are included within this order.
“As we go into Thanksgiving, please be extra cautious and look out for your loved ones. These are critical times,” Reeves said. “There is much more COVID-19 around us, and therefore a greater risk that you pass the virus to someone that you love dearly.”
Counties previously added include: Benton, Carroll, Covington, DeSoto, Forrest, Harrison, Humphreys, Jackson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Leflore, Lee, Marshall, Rankin and Yalobusha counties, which were added on Nov. 10, and Hinds, Itawamba, Madison, Montgomery, Pontotoc, Tate and Winston counties, which were added on Nov. 17.
If Newton County meets the threshold, the added restrictions include face coverings worn by every person covering the nose and mouth, when inside a business, school, building or other indoor space open to the public whenever it is not possible to maintain a minimum of six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household.
Exceptions to the rules include:
• Persons who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical or behavioral condition, who have trouble breathing or are incapacitated, or whose healthcare professional has recommended that a face covering not be worn;
• Persons seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired in a way that requires the mouth to be visible;
• Persons while eating or drinking;
• Persons in a building or engaged in an activity that utilize or requires security surveillance or screening (e.g., banking or financial institutions), and only during such times when these persons are under security surveillance or screening;
• Persons engaged in swimming activities or other activities while in a swimming pool;
• Persons engaged in exercising in fitness and exercise gyms or other sports activity;
• Persons engaged in organized school athletic practices, including weight training;
• Persons, including teachers, while giving a speech, presentation or performance for a broadcast or to an audience, including students;
• Persons actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship (NOTE wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged);
• Persons who are voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election (NOTE wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged);
• Children under the age of 6 (Note: Parents and guardians shall be responsible for ensuring proper use of face coverings by children 6 and older and must ensure that face coverings do not pose a choking hazard and can be safely worn without obstructing a child’s ability to breathe.); and
• Other settings where it is not practical or feasible to wear a face covering, including, but not limited to, when obtaining or rendering goods or services (such as receipt of dental services) or would otherwise impede visibility to operate equipment.
Other restrictions include limits on public and private social. Gatherings and recreational activities shall be limited to groups of no more than 10 people in a single indoor space or groups of no more than 50 people in an outdoor space where individuals not in the same household are in close proximity (less than 6 feet) to each other. This limitation does not apply to religious entities, voting precincts, students in classrooms or gatherings governed by other capacity limitations contained in Executive Order 1525.