City Expands Emergency Virus Orders To Require Temperature Checks

The city of Vicksburg is trying something new in the face of growing COVID-19 cases.

Instead of restricting the size of groups or hours of operations for businesses, the city is asking event organizers and businesses to do one thing — check the temperature.

Friday, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. announced a change to the city’s civil emergency order aimed at curtailing the spread of the virus in the community. The press conference, originally planned for Monday, was moved to Friday after the county reported a significant spike in new COVID-19 cases.

In the new order, anyone organizing a group or social gathering — inside or outside — of more than 20 people “must check the temperature of all persons requesting entrance. If a person’s temperature is higher than 100.4 degrees, the person must not be allowed to enter the group/social gathering.”

The city gives examples of the gatherings as a private party, house party, wedding, wedding reception, wedding or baby shower, sporting event, funeral, worship service or another social event.

The host of the event must now also “keep a list of persons attending the gathering and contact information for contact tracing if needed.”

Also, beginning Saturday, businesses within the city limits that sell alcohol for consumption or allow for consumption of alcohol on its premises “must check the temperature of every employee and patron prior to entrance. If a person’s temperature is above 100.4 degrees, the person must not be allowed to enter the premises.”

The new order also calls for an expansion of the city’s ongoing mask mandate. Effective Saturday, “all persons are required to wear a face covering, both indoors and outdoors, at group/social gatherings if social distancing (6 feet apart from persons who are not household members) is not or cannot be practiced.”

Flaggs also announced earlier in the day Friday that the city-sponsored First Friday Block Party, scheduled for Friday evening in downtown, had been canceled. He added that all future Block Parties are “canceled until further notice.”

The report issued Friday by the Mississippi State Department of Public Health showed Warren County had reported 46 new COVID-19 cases overnight. The sudden spike pushed the county closer to being declared a virus hot spot by state health officials, given the level of new cases reported in the county over the past two weeks.

The number of average new cases per day has reached a level in Warren County not seen since early August.