Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba is expressing frustration at people not following social-distancing guidelines to counter the spread of COVID-19, saying he may need to tighten restrictions he earlier loosened if the rate of infection and hospitalization spikes.
Speaking to the press on June 22, the mayor said that with the number of confirmed Hinds County cases nearing 1,600 and 33 deaths, the virus is "a looming threat to our communities nationwide."
The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Hinds County, as reported on the Mississippi Department of Health website as of June 25 is 1,646 and 34 total deaths.
"I have witnessed in recent days some outdoor events or seen photographs from outdoor events where people have not been taking the necessary precaution of wearing facial masks," Lumumba said. "They have not been utilizing the social-distancing regulations and requirements, and I just want people to know that they are putting themselves and family members in harm."
The mayor said retail and restaurant businesses need to ensure that customers wear facial masks because of the public-health risk of not doing so, urging them to remember the strain of having businesses shut down.
"We are doing all that we can to operate an economy in the presence of COVID-19, but we will not hesitate to reimpose the regulations in the interest of public health and safety," he warned. "This is still a very critical time. We want to do everything that we can for people to enjoy life, not to have 'stay at home' orders, but when faced with the alternative of more people dying, more people getting sick, we will do what we have to do."
Lumumba mentioned the rate of hospitalization, the use of ventilators and the rate of infection as factors that would inform whether he will put restrictions back in place.