In an effort to curb the further spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and in adherence to the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and the Mississippi State Department of Health, Hancock County -- along with the cities of Bay St. Louis, Diamondhead, and Waveland -- on Saturday signed a joint resolution to temporarily close entrances to public buildings and facilities; prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people; and require all restaurants in Hancock County and the cities to only provide take-out, pick-up, delivery or drive-through services effective 8 p.m., Sat. March 21.
According to the joint resolution, “there shall be no in-house dining, on-site or available sitting areas for the public. Any onsite dining is prohibited. There shall be no formation of lines of 10 or more people congregating to pick up food.”
The resolution also states that all bars, nightclubs, taverns, and private clubs in Hancock County shall close, but may provide take-out, pick-up, delivery or drive-through food services for food.
In addition to the joint resolution, each city also laid out other specifics.
In Bay St. Louis, the Jimmy Rutherford Fishing Pier is now closed. A citywide burn ban is also in effect. All city offices are closed to the public. City personnel will be available by phone, email, and U.S. mail for anyone that needs to conduct city business. For more information, visit https://www.baystlouis-ms.gov/.
Diamondhead’s city offices are also closed to the public in an effort to limit face-to-face contact. City employees are still available by phone, email and U.S.mail. For more information, visit http://diamondhead.ms.gov/.
In the city of Waveland, the Garfield Ladner Pier is closed to the public, as well as the Lighthouse restrooms. The city’s offices are also closed to the public and business can be conducted via telephone and email and U.S. mail. The guidelines for Waveland’s restaurants, bars, taverns, and lounges will take effect Sat. March 21 at 11:59 p.m. Mayor Mike Smith said Saturday that Buccaneer Park, which is state-owned, is still open, but only allowing self-contained campers. All the facilities as well as the office are closed, but available by telephone. Sites are also limited to eight people per site. For more information, visit https://waveland.ms.gov/.
The county’s offices are also closed to the public at this time. Business can still be conducted via phone, email, and U.S. Mail. For more information, visit https://www.hancockcounty.ms.gov/.
The county also voted to close McLeod Park, effective Sunday, March 22 at 3 p.m.
The beaches are still open as of now, but the county is taking that on a day-by-day basis.
The county and cities also limited events to ten or fewer people. An event is defined as a “gathering for business, social, or recreational activity, including, but not limited to, community, civic, public leisure, or sporting event; parades; conventions; fundraisers, large private parties, celebrations or banquets; and artistic performances and spiritual and faith-based gatherings.”
An event for the purposes of Saturday’s proclamation is not a “public location where people pass through, such as transportation centers, airports, public squares, and shopping areas." Retail establishments such as grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and banks are not events. Medical facilities, office environments, factories, schools, universities, and city-owned or leased buildings where essential functions and services are being carried out are not events.
In the event of gatherings of 10 or less, people must ensure they are following health and safety guidelines recommended by the CDC and MSDH, which can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/ and https://msdh.ms.gov/.
Hancock County Board President Scotty Adam on Saturday said that “we’ve just got to all be in this together.”
The mayors from Bay St. Louis, Waveland, and Diamondhead all attended the county’s emergency meeting.
“Whatever we do, make sure we spread the same message,” Scotty Adam said.
He also encouraged city leaders to spread the message to small business owners about the options available to them through the Small Business Administration.
Supervisor Kodie Koenenn said that he would rather “the question be asked did we do too much than somebody ask should we have done more.”
Scotty Adam also stressed to the public that they keep their health and safety in mind and maintain social distancing and other guidelines issued by the CDC and MSDH.
“Hopefully, everybody listens and heeds all the warnings,” he said. “The warnings have been incoming steadily every day. There’s tons of information about how this virus is transmitted and spread. Read it. If you’re going to put something on Facebook, put the facts on there from the CDC. Don’t put something on there that you heard.”
Hancock County Emergency Agency Director Brian Adam said that his agency is only putting out the facts they receive.
Brian Adam also addressed some of the rumors circulating, one being that President Donald Trump is shutting the country down.
Brian Adam said he has spoken to Gov. Tate Reeves and MEMA’s Executive Greg Michel about the matter.
“That’s one of the things they were saying is that they were federalizing the National Guard,” he said. “That’s not true. If he does that, then everything is pretty much shut down.”
Brian Adam went on to say that many of the decisions are being left up to the governors.
“Now the governors are leaving it up to the local jurisdictions to do a lot of the protocols,” he said.
Brian Adam also said that the rumor circulating that the government is shutting down the gasoline and fuel is also false.
“We’ve been trying to address it quite often,” he said. “Everything we put out is either from MEMA, the MSDH or the CDC.”
Supervisor Theresa Ryan added that MEMA also provides a link on its website, https://www.msema.org/, to address rumors.
“I can assure you, if it’s not facts, we’re not putting it out,” Brian Adam said.
As of Saturday, March 21, according to the MSDH’s website, the total number of cases in Mississippi is now 140, with four in Hancock County. The total deaths reported is one in Hancock County.
Saturday’s proclamation will be available for viewing the county’s website.