Gazebo Gazette

Since Saturday when Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency, most of the Gulf Coast communities have made preparation to follow.  Last night, Mayor of Gulfport Billy Hewes made the public statement:

With the Coronavirus being one of the more serious threats our society has faced in generations, out of an abundance of caution, our National, State and Local leaders have taken unprecedented steps to stem the spread of the disease.  Covid-19 is an equal opportunity infector.  The fact is, while the rate of transmission is alarming, there are still many unknowns as to the lifespan of this disease, the classes of susceptibility, and the length of time one is contagious.  Our Coastal community is no stranger in responding to crisis and recovering from calamity, and with our experience from storm preparations, we know the importance of a measured, planned response.  There is no need for panic.  There never is. 

The reality is, over the next few weeks, statistics are likely to get worse as the virus runs its course.  As more people are tested, the true picture of the reach of this illness will become more clear.  In making plans to stock up, do not fret about an inability to get supplies to weather this challenge.  As we have seen from storm threats, help and supplies are always on the way.  Not only will the market respond to our needs, but it is in these instances that churches and individuals demonstrate the ability to minister and provide much needed physical and spiritual support, where possible.
As this situation presents a temptation to retreat into the hole of social media, we should, instead, treat this as an opportunity to re-engage with those closest to us, check on our neighbors – even if at arm’s length, break bread and play board games with families, and patronize local establishments that don’t have big crowds, where prudent.  While large gatherings are to be avoided, total isolation is not required, and we don’t have to stop enjoying the natural gifts we are blessed with.  Our beaches are not crowded, our parks provide plenty of open space to get out for some fresh air, and as our mothers taught us, sunshine is a great antiseptic!  As we are urged to limit socialization, let’s make sure this does not diminish opportunities to be sociable.
Your City understands the need to ensure the delivery of basic services to our citizens.  We are blessed with an abundance of dedicated employees, as well as good relationships with utility companies, providing critical resources.  While we will minimize access to activities and functions (abbreviated court cycles, live streaming of Council meetings, etc.), we will continue to keep personnel on hand to assist those in need of city services.  We are here for you.

Our hospitals have been making preparations, for weeks, in anticipation of the spread of the virus.  Local officials and first responders are briefed on a regular basis.    Schools are closed and festivals cancelled, for the time being.  Residents are showing good discretion in taking measures to limit exposure and stay in place, where necessary.  This is a fluid situation, and new measures will be put in place, if and when required, in order to protect the public.  The best thing any of us can do is track and follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and make practical decisions as to what we do, and how we go about our business.  Regular hand washing, and avoiding the touching of your face are basics.   The CDC website has specific, up-to-date information including symptoms, testing, and how to protect yourself:

 In addition, the Mississippi Department of Health has created a Coronavirus Hotline: 1-877-978-6453 (8:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday-Friday). 

As we cycle out of this period, be sure to make extra effort to shop local.  The global economic impact of this calamity will be substantial, and the domino effect could easily be felt here.  Many restaurants and businesses – and workers dependent upon those jobs to make ends meet, will find it difficult without our patronage.  Given the wonderful nature of our drive-to market, let’s also encourage Staycations in the region to shore up our critical tourism market. 
This is a serious matter, but we will get through this, and will be ok – if not better and wiser for it.  As veterans in dealing with calamity, response, and recovery, let our Coastal community set an example of calm in the face of uncertainty, and consideration during this period of concern.  In keeping with the cautions raised at the Federal and State levels, I am declaring a State of Emergency in the City of Gulfport, effective at 12:00 pm, March 15, 2020.
Additionally, the city of Long Beach issued a closing notice:  Based on a recommendation by the Mississippi Department of Health, Long Beach Senior Citizen Activity Center will be closed until further notice. We will update with more information when it becomes available. 2020 Spring Pilgrimage will be canceled until further notice. Update at of 5:25 PM Friday March 13th Long Beach Mississippi Youth Baseball games and practices have been canceled for this weekend and the following two weeks.
The City of Pass Christian Mayor Leo “Chipper” McDermott announced the following:  the Fleitas Sportsplex (tennis courts, basketball court, football field and baseball fields will be closed until March 23rd. Church Street Basketball Courts to be closed as well  Mayor McDermott stated, “We will declare an emergency tomorrow night, however, simple prudence of personal sanitary responsibility should be the only true guideline for the public and the private sector at this time.”
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Sunday night,Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities. Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals. Therefore, CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.

Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populationshand hygiene, and social distancing.  When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.

This recommendation does not apply to the day to day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses. This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus.  This recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials.

Finally, an emergency meeting of the Board of Supervisors of Harrison County, Mississippi was called Monday morning.

The notice is hereby given by the President of the Board of Supervisors of Harrison County, Mississippi of an Emergency Meeting of the Board of Supervisors of Harrison County, Mississippi at 11:30 am on March 16, 2020 discuss the following items:

All county operations in light of the emergency proclamation of the Governor of the State of Mississippi and/or Corvid19 virus or Corona virus; Emergency proclamation regarding the Corvid19 virus or Corona virus; Approve first reading of Pandemic plan; Resolution to the Governor regarding pandemic and emergency declaration for Harrison County; Any other issue related to pandemic or Corvid19 virus or Corona virus as it affects Harrison County and its citizens.

Any emergency updates will be posted at the earliest possible.

(The Gazebo Gazette Associate Publisher Calvin Ishee assisted with updating the news)