Mask requirement starts Wednesday morning

Staff Writer

Following a public plea from some of the city’s top leading medical officials, the Grenada City Council passed a resolution requiring masks be worn in businesses.

The mask requirement will take effect Wednesday at 8 a.m. Customers and employees will be required to wear facial protection before entering and while inside business.

According to City Attorney Mary Brown, the city council will follow up with an ordinance at Monday night’s city council meeting to enforce a penalty for those cited for violating the resolution. The city council discussed a fine up to $1,000 for violators.

Ward Three City Council Lewis Johnson made the motion to have the mask resolution put in place and Ward Two Councilman Pete Wilson seconded it.  The vote passed unanimously 6-0, and Ward Seven Councilman Ronnie Merriman was absent.

According to the resolution:

All businesses open to the public shall require all employees and customers to wear a mask or face covering inside the building.
All businesses shall post signage notifying customers to wear a mask before entering
Management of each business must provide adequate supervision to ensure compliance of face covering requirements

The plea for a community-wide effort to slow the spread of Coronavirus in Grenada came from  University of Mississippi Medical Center CEO Dodie McElmurray, Dr. Joseph Messina, chief of staff, and Dr. Daneca DiPaolo.

The UMMC officials expressed concerns and asked the city council for their support in getting awareness in the community over the seriousness of the virus.

“We were at capacity last week, and our testing has tripled over the past few weeks,” McElmurray said. “We’re vastly seeing much younger patients being hospitalized with COVID -19.  Prior to that those hospitalized were the high-risk elderly.”

Messina said being a native of Grenada, the Coronavirus has become a major concern for him and he asked the city council to take some action.

“The number of people that I’m seeing without masks is staggering,” Messina said. “We need to bring this community together on this thing. By all means, for the safety of this community let’s do it. If everyone is wearing a mask, the spread of the virus will be slow.”

Last week, the highest number of COVID-19 positive patients hospitalized at UMMC Grenada was 19. At 490 positive cases, Grenada is among the highest of all Mississippi counties for the week of June 29 – July 5.

Data compiled by the New York Times captured June 30 shows that Grenada County ranks 12th in the nation in recent COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. Based on its most recent 197 cases, Grenada County statistically averages 949 positive cases per 100,000 population, the report says.

“The hospital can’t be overwhelmed,” DiPaolo said. “When we were home locked down, we didn’t have the numbers that we have today.”

In addition to UMMC Grenada operating at capacity,  McElmurray said they have significant numbers of hospital staff who are out due to COVID-19. That further impairs their ability to respond.

As of Monday four of the hospital’s ICU beds were occupied and medical officials say people needing special attention have to been sent to other hospitals because Grenada is full.

“Even if you feel OK, there could be someone in your family that needs to go to the hospital, but there will be no where for them to go. We’re not trying to spread fear, but these are truths,” DiPaolo said.

Messina even painted a clearer picture of what he’s has experienced over the past few weeks.

“We’re seeing young people that are now getting out to socialize, but this virus is affecting them now and it’s a fast moving one,” Messina said. “It causes a number of problems.  There’s a problem when people go get tested, and before the results are back they  are shopping in stores and eating at restaurants.  We need to wear masks.  So mask up! It’s not a statement of any type, but it’s about safety in our community. Mask up!”