When I was elected Mayor of Southaven in 2013, and again in 2017, I swore to faithfully support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Mississippi and obey the laws thereof. I have upheld this oath everyday I’ve been in office and will continue to until my last day. When this crisis began in mid-March, no one knew the degree of risk that we faced which made it constitutionally-sound to implement temporary restrictions on personal liberties. As upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court multiple times, government has the Constitutional right to restrain personal liberties temporarily during emergencies “under the pressure of great dangers” to protect “the safety of the general public”. However, I must be straightforward in saying that I have serious concerns with liberties being restrained for this length of time, considering the real data we have now.* This virus is dangerous to some, but does not threaten “the safety of the general public”. 99.98% of Mississippians have survived this pandemic to date. I also have concerns about the discriminatory nature of government allowing some businesses and organizations to assemble and do business, but not others. Again, as Mayor, I swore to support the laws of the State of Mississippi and support the Constitution of the United States. When these two conflict, I’m in a situation that I never thought would become reality and must support the Constitution of the United States. As the Chief Executive of the City of Southaven, I will enforce all state laws until they conflict with the Constitution of the United States. Executive Orders #1487 and #1488 were issued today by Governor Reeves which extend the “Safer-at-Home” Order until Monday, June 1, 2020 at 8:00 AM. Both Orders may be read in their entirety for all details, but the most notable changes are as follows: SCHOOLS MAY OPEN WEIGHT ROOMS AND TRAINING FACILITIES may re-open with detailed hygiene, social distancing, and health-screening requirements. OUTDOOR PLACES OF AMUSEMENT AND RECREATION may re-open with detailed hygiene, social distancing, and health-screening requirements with the number of customers being limited to 50% of the park’s maximum occupancy. It remains extremely important that our citizens with underlying health conditions that place them at a higher risk use all precautions and safeguarding measures to protect themselves. All citizens should continue to respect the dangers of COVID-19 as they resume their lives in a smart and safe way. Most sincerely and respectfully, Mayor Darren Musselwhite *The Statistics… Desoto County Fatalities per Capita = .003 of 1% (6/185,000) Shelby County, TN Fatalities per Capita = .009 of 1% (88/937,000) State of Mississippi Fatalities per Capita = .02 of 1% (596/2,976,000)
Today, Governor Reeves announced that he is extending his “Safer-at-Home” Order until Monday, May 25, 2020 at 8:00 AM with Executive Order 1480 which will be the official source of all details. He asked all Mississippians to continue to take this virus seriously as we still face health risks. He acknowledged that we are now facing serious economic damages and must continue with a phased re-opening. ALL FROM HIS LAST ORDER REMAINS UNCHANGED except the following changes that will be effective immediately, today, May 8, 2020: SALONS and BARBER SHOPS (which interpreted by Southaven will also include tattoo parlors) may open with strict hygiene, health screening, and social distancing measures, including requiring only one patron per employee/server at a time; all patrons 6-feet apart; no indoor waiting area; mandatory facial coverings of the mouth and nose by both server and patron as well as gloves by server. GYMS (which interpreted by Southaven will also include dance/gymnastics/martial arts studios and all other indoor athletic training facilities) may open with an occupancy limitation of 30% capacity and strict hygiene, health screening, and social distancing measures. TO BE NOTED: As stated previously, all other remains unchanged which limits all other indoor gatherings to 10 persons or less and outdoor gatherings to 20 persons or less. I have requested clarification from the Governor’s Office regarding physical, “in-person” church services, but have not received any update and this new order has not changed anything. His initial order, which is still in effect, says: “Religious entities, including religious and faith-based facilities, entities and groups, and religious gatherings are essential provided that they adhere to the CDC and the Mississippi Department of Health recommendations and guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” The Mississippi Department of Health continues to state that “in-person” church services are not safe and that social distancing and limiting gatherings to 10 people or less is critical. It’s my goal to give clarity to our churches and all citizens, but I’ve not been provided with any other details other than this information. I will continue to reach out to the Governor’s Office and provide updates as they are given to me. As I’ve stated repetitively, our data does not warrant continuing to restrain our economy and lives and I will continue pressing for a broader re-opening and return to full recovery. You have made tremendous sacrifices and showed your toughness and resilience. We are on the brink of a great recovery! Let’s continue to be smart while we claim our lives back! It’s time! With the most concern and respect, Mayor Darren Musselwhite
Yesterday, Governor Reeves issued Executive Order 1478 which amended his “Safer-in-Place” Order effective Thursday, May 7 at 8:00 AM. The Order may be read in its entirety for all details, but basically changed the following: Restaurant dining rooms may open with a 50% seating capacity limit for customers; 6-person maximum at tables; 6-feet social distancing between all persons when practical; bar areas prohibited unless serving food; no live music; mandatory facial coverages for servers; and other detailed hygiene and health-evaluation measures. Outdoor recreational gatherings, including team sports, may occur with a maximum of 20 participants. Obviously, these limitations regarding sports create challenges for a Parks & Recreation operation like we have in Southaven. Our plan is as follows: Recreational baseball and softball will begin practice on Monday, May 18 at Snowden Grove and Greenbrook Parks. We will have a full season with games beginning on Monday, June 1 and the season concluding by July 31. There will be no state tournaments or Dizzy Dean World Series. Competitive baseball and softball tournaments will begin on Friday, May 29. Indoor training at the BankPlus Sports Center and our new, beautiful Greenbrook facility will begin on Monday, May 18. Soccer practice begins on Saturday, May 16 with the first games on Saturday, May 30. Volleyball will not occur until after June 1. Tennis and golf are now open, but no tournaments or group activities until Friday, May 29. Playgrounds and Forever Young Senior activities will remain suspended until Monday, June 1. Strict social distancing requirements will continue to be required. Obviously, a degree of common sense must be used as it is impossible for players to distance at all times during sporting competitions. I commend Governor Reeves for his tireless efforts during this crisis and for proving that he is truly listening to Mayors in our state. His latest action is a big step in the right direction, but we need more. I will continue to plead with him to have a broader re-opening and communicated long-term plan or either allow us to implement our own plan. We have a detailed plan for recovery in Southaven that I am very confident will bring us back gradually, very cautiously, and effectively. Now, let’s talk facts about where we are right now. Our people have made tremendous sacrifices! We have truly flattened the curve and controlled the spread of this virus. We were all terrified in mid-March and didn’t know how severely we would be affected here. It has been 55 days since President Trump declared a national emergency and 49 days since our first positive case in Desoto County. We now have our own experience and data. Listen to these facts: As of today, May 5 we have had 308 COVID-19 positive cases, which equates to .17 of 1% of our population in Desoto County (305/185,000). Our fatality rate is .002 of 1% of our population (4/185,000). Shelby County, Tennessee’s numbers are very similar. Our spread rate for 49 days since our first positive case has averaged 6.29 daily and has remained very consistent, not typical of an exponential epidemic spread rate. Our COVID-19 hospitalization rate in Southaven has decreased 83% since April 1 and capacity has never been challenged at any time throughout this crisis. Listen to me, this virus is very serious and we must remain very cautious and continue to evaluate data daily. Losing one life is too many and this risk must continue to get our utmost attention. However, our real experience and data with this has proven that much of what we were warned about has not been a real threat here. We are not Italy, Spain, or New York because of the major difference in population densities. We did what we had to do and it was the right call, but now other health risks caused by the drastic measures we implemented outweigh the risk of the virus itself. We cannot be paralyzed by fear and bankrupt our country, state, and local economies. It’s time that we come out of our bunker and fight for our way of life again! ALL of our businesses, churches, other organizations, and individual citizens need their government to get out of their way now and deserve a chance to prosper again in the face of new challenges! Furthermore, with all due respect, we are blessed with some of the most talented physicians and scientists in the world and we would not have achieved the success we have in this fight without them, but it’s time to return them to their proper roles as advisors and let our elected officials make policy decisions. Leadership is about considering all facts, developing a strategic plan, and communicating it clearly and boldly to the people depending on you. To all elected officials: Now is not the time for political games, finger pointing, and fighting. Never is it acceptable to circulate misinformation for political purposes. It is time to come together and solve problems for the people who entrusted us to do so. To the people of Southaven: You have made tremendous sacrifices and showed your toughness and resilience. We are on the brink of a great recovery! Let’s continue to be smart while we claim our lives back! It’s time! With the most concern and respect, Mayor Darren Musselwhite
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