DeSoto County mayors have been apprehensive to create more policies to prevent the future spread of COVID-19 as the rate of positive tests in the county continue to rise. The towns are looking to the state and Gov. Tate Reeves for guidance.
Although Reeves announced a statewide mask mandate Tuesday, DeSoto County was one of 37 Mississippi counties with a mask mandate already in place.
Walls, which has a population of 1,181, had a mask mandate in place prior to the executive order, according to Mayor Keidron Henderson.
The mayors of the major towns in the county, including Southaven, Olive Branch, Hernando and Walls, came up with the same sentiment: at this time, they’re waiting for Reeves to provide any direction.
“If there needs to be some immediate action taken, we’ll certainly have those conversations,” Henderson said. Until then, he said, they are trying to herald the messages about preventing the spread of the virus. “Wear your mask.”
Scott Phillps, mayor of Olive Branch, said that constant changes in the state of the county has made it difficult to make long term plans.
“There have been a million different orders between (the beginning) and today,” Phillips said. “Since then, we’ve been going along with the governor’s orders for what needed to be done.”
Phillips said his office is frequently in contact with local healthcare providers discussing the strain on their resources.
“We talk everyday with (local hospitals) about, ‘Are we overwhelmed?’ And that’s been my biggest concern, overwhelming healthcare facilities. We have not gotten to that point, but we’ve gotten close,” Phillips said.
Southaven mayor Darren Musselwhite said his office has been tracking the virus since March 11 and focusing on fatality rates and hospital numbers.
“Fatalities have not changed much," Musselwhite said. “We’re looking at trends."
Though he said he does not believe the data indicates the need for a shutdown, he said he still urges the community to protect themselves and others from the virus.
In 30 days, the number of cases in the county doubled. According to the MSDH website, cases in DeSoto county have skyrocketed from around 1,700 total cases recorded on July 7 to over total 3,400 cases on Aug. 4.
Tom Ferguson, mayor of Hernando, said that his office has been waiting for Reeves to make any decisions regarding executive orders or mandates.
“We don’t have plans right now,” Ferguson said. “We’re waiting on the governor to make plans. This is a moving target until we get some guidance from our superiors.”